February 11, 2022
AGBU Western Region Volunteer
Shahan Minassian is an impressive force in the world of entertainment, but as Chairman of the AGBU Western Region Asbeds, he finds a different kind of fulfillment and meaning. Passionate about and dedicated to helping future generations succeed, this UCLA Art School graduate works tirelessly to make a difference in other’s lives.
When it comes to his professional life, the desire to help those coming up in the industry is equally strong. From starting out at the bottom of the Hollywood film industry to owning his own company for 35 years as a producer and cinematographer—working with some of the biggest names in Hollywood—Minassian epitomizes the American Dream come true.
Q & A
Q. How have you made a positive impact on others through AGBU?
A. AGBU has been a part of my family for many years. My uncle Aram Minassian was the AGBU Chairman in Aleppo and his grandson, my cousin Yervant Zorian, is the founder of the AGBU Armenian Virtual College and a long-time member of the organization’s Central Board. My maternal cousin is the celebrated author Leon Surmelian, who believed so deeply in the AGBU mission that he gifted his wealth and all rights to his books to the organization.
I joined the Asbeds in 2013 and was honored to become chapter chair 2020 because of the numerous ways we mobilize for causes large and small. We are formidable fundraisers and even during the pandemic we didn’t miss a beat keeping our commitments to the American University of Armenia (AUA). We also raised funds to Lebanon relief after the devastating explosion and the ongoing financial crisis. Our matching fund campaign during the Artsakh War was also a success. At the height of the pandemic, we organized an essay competition for high school students to write about their experiences during the crisis. Each submission was so moving and well written; it was difficult to award one winner.
Q. What’s on the Asbed’s agenda for 2022?
A. Our goal has always been to create a platform to discuss current issues and take on philanthropic pursuits that help the Armenian community at large. We want to have banquet style events to help raise awareness and money to help our communities. We would also like to highlight the work of different artists to raise public awareness of their work. Beyond Asbeds, I feel we must support our AGBU scouts in the Valley and in Pasadena. Scouts played an integral role in my life and teaches youth about leadership and striving for unity behind a purpose.
Q. How would you describe the key attributes of AGBU in just three words?
A. Inspiration, leadership, and benevolence.
Q. How has AGBU shaped your personal values and principles?
A. AGBU is a community of highly educated and motivated people, and this has inspired me to be someone they can count on to lend a hand with my own skills and resources. No task is too big or small for me. AGBU has enriched my life profoundly and I am prepared to give back as best I can.
Q. What personal goals have you set yourself for this year and beyond?
A. I am overdue to make a movie from A-Z. I have made short films and features, but I would like to make a film about the amazing life story of my grandmother.
Q. What is one thing you wish people knew about AGBU?
A. That everyone associated with AGBU is in it to serve the greater good of the Armenian community. Nobody I know is doing it for attention or personal aggrandizement. They all deserve a medal, but the most gratifying reward is transforming other lives for the better.
Q. What do you like to do in your spare time?
A. I like to golf and create art every chance I can.
Q. What is your proudest accomplishment?
A. So far, I am happy I gave my two sons a head start in a tough industry like entertainment. I am awed by their successes as producers and cinematographers and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. They are alumni of the Manoogian-Demirdjian School, and received the education that would best prepare them for higher learning.
As for the Asbeds, I am especially proud of how we paid tribute to our ancestors with our three-day historic commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We went all out to share our story, with panel discussions, an elaborate exhibition, an impressive hardcover publication, and other events.