Azita Ghanizada (pronounced "Ghani-za-da"; born November 17 1979) is an Afghan American actress in the United States who has appeared in a number of television series. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, her family fled her native country when she was still a baby in the wake of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. They travelled to the United States and were granted asylum as political refugees. Raised by a conservative family, she has two sisters; her parents separated when she was in middle school. Ghanizada is a graduate of James Madison High School in Vienna, Virginia and has a degree in English and Communications from Virginia Tech.
Ghanizada learned to speak English from watching television; that combined with the family's regular trips to a local cinema that showed Bollywood movies inspired her to become an actress. She relocated to Los Angeles and began her on-air camera career by getting work in television commercials due to her non-descript ethnicity which enabled her to play Mediterranean, Indian, and Arabic roles. In the Laura Neri film A Kiss on the Nose, Ghanizada played the lead role of Chiara, a performance for which she received a film festival best actress nomination. Her television guest-starring roles include How I Met Your Mother, Entourage, Veronica Mars, The Wedding Bells, NUMB3RS, Bones, Psych and Castle. She had a supporting role in the 2009 science fiction action film Blood Shot, and the independent comedies, "You, Only Better" (2009).
In 2008, Ghanizada joined the cast of the General Hospital prime-time spin-off General Hospital: Night Shift for season 2 as Dr. Saira Batra, a specialist in holistic medicine. In 2009, Ghanizada played Kelly, a Prada sales girl on HBO's Entourage (season 6, episode 2) and joined the cast of the television pilot Tough Trade from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan, and executive producer T Bone Burnett.
She is currently a primary cast member of the American Syfy Channel series Alphas where she plays Rachel Pirzad, a woman with enhanced sensory abilities.