In an exclusive essay in this week’s issue of PEOPLE, the actress, who is best known for her roles in television shows like The L Word, Fairly Legal and most recently her role on Showtime’s City on a Hill, opens up about her childhood growing up in Texas as the daughter of immigrants from Iran, and her exposure to addiction from a young age.
“One night, when I was about 5, my father was drunk and passed out, and I remember my mom dragging me out of bed in the middle of the night,” she writes. “‘We have to leave. We have to leave now,’ she whispered. She was scared. I didn’t pack anything; I just had my pajamas. It was January, and it was cold as we headed to a women’s shelter in nearby Arlington, Texas. That shelter helped keep my mother and me safe and alive—and I now feel a sense of responsibility to share my story and highlight the necessity of such places.”