The scoop on ‘The Girls on the Bus’ star Natasha Behnam

· Updated on May 6, 2024

*Photo credit: Timothy Fernandez

Journalists have the ability to influence behaviors, change minds, and inspire the masses in just 1000 words. And in many cases, they can shape the way we view politics (and politicians). Journalists following the campaign trail is nothing new, but Max’s The Girls on the Bus is giving an inside scoop into how it unfolds from the comfort of our living rooms.

Based on the New York Times bestseller Chasing Hilary by Amy Chozick, The Girls on the Bus (created by Chozick and Julie Plec) chronicles the lives of Sadie McCarthy (Melissa Benoit), Grace Gordon Greene (Carla Gugino), Kimberlyn Anaya Kendrick (Christina Elmore), and Lola Rahaii (Natasha Behnam), four women journalists who embark on the campaign trail via bus, following presidential candidates and their every move. While their views are different, together, the four journalists discover friendship, love, and drama on the campaign trail. Lola, a Gen Z reporter, influencer, and activist, is a spirited voice of her generation and Behnam is just as dynamic as her character.

The Orange County native is a first-generation Iranian American who honed her filmmaking skills at Loyola Marymount University. Behnam then trained at UCB and The Groundlings Theatre & School to refine her comedic and improvisational skills, which shine in The Girls on Bus. Aside from acting, comedy, and screenwriting, the multi-hyphenate creative is an avid traveler, linguist, and an instructor in meditation and yoga, influencing her creative approach to storytelling.

With roles in Mayans M.C. and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Behnam is stepping deeper into the spotlight with her starring role as Lola. INTO spoke with The Girls on the Bus star about her relationship to social media, the sisterhood she formed with her fellow co-stars, and how John Tucker Must Die created the queer pop culture moment that defined her childhood.

Which three words would you use to describe your The Girls on the Bus character, Lola Rahaii, and why?

Passionate, because she cares so much about changing the world. Sharp, because she’s hypervigilant and always does her research. Sensitive, because she’s been through so much, but still has a lot to learn and she’s making a lot of mistakes as she figures it all out.

Lola is a social media star. So, we have to ask, are you chronically online like your character or would you prefer being off the grid?

Oh boy, it depends on the day, but mostly I’d say I am chronically online. And other days, I really prefer to throw my phone into the ocean.

Which queer celeb would you want to make a TikTok with and why?

Kehlani, although that sounds scary because I feel like we’d have to do her “After Hours” dance challenge…but also….I’m down…

What was your favorite part of filming The Girls on the Bus

That’s such a hard question because I loved so much of it. I think the genuine friendships and sisterhood I formed with Carla, Melissa, and Christina were probably the best part. I love them dearly and spending day-in and day-out with them was such a joy. 

If we gave you a budget to produce a biopic about your favorite queer icon, who would it be, and what would be the Oscar-winning scene?

Am I allowed to say two of my friends? Is that crazy? I would do a dual biopic about my best friends Terry Hu & Damian Joseph Quinn. The Oscar-winning scene would be where they both turn into magical goddess beings in front of our eyes and through tear-stricken humor (deeply touching, yet somehow you’re also laughing), save the world from itself. In a way, I think they do that every day anyway. 

Which queer pop culture moment defined your childhood?

When Sophia Bush kissed Brittany Snow in the Oscar-winning hit film John Tucker Must Die. I was like…..what was that……I liked that…… 

As an avid traveler, what was the last place you visited that inspired your artistry? 

I went to Morocco a few years ago and really immersed myself in the city. I became conversational in Moroccan French, which is what a lot of people were speaking in Rabat, where I was. Everyone I met there was so kind and beautiful, and the culture was so rich. It was a very touching trip and I think it made me more whole, in a way. 

Finally, what do you hope viewers take away from watching Lola’s story on The Girls on the Bus?

I hope people walk away with a bit more empathy. She has such a vibrant outer shell, but as we get to know her, we see so much depth in her story and what she’s been through. Along with the other three nuanced, complex women, Lola can serve as an example of not judging a book by its cover, and uncovering friendship and camaraderie in places you didn’t think you would find it. 

The Girls on the Bus is streaming now on Max.

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