Sarah Shahi: Hollywood Is Nice Compared With the Pageant World [Video]

Maya Salam
Fall TV
Sarah Shahi
"Relevance" -- Sarah Shahi guest stars as Sam Shaw, a lethal female government operative on the run whose unique skill set makes her Reese and Finch's most formidable case ever on PERSON OF INTEREST, Thursday, Feb. 21 (9:00 - 10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros.

Hollywood has a bad rap. Sure, it's the world's dog-eat-dog entertainment mecca, where starry-eyed celeb wannabes arrive in droves and have their dreams dashed by the cutthroat business of fame, but it could be worse. And it is, if you ask "Person of Interest" star Sarah Shahi, the focus of this "The Yo Show" segment.

She is adamant that there are two professions even more competitive than acting, and she's done them both.

The first: pageants! If we needed more proof than "Toddlers and Tiaras," we got it. Shahi, who started in pageants when she was just 8, was crowned Miss Fort Worth USA in 1997. And clearly, that win was hard-fought.

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"There were girls that would do anything to sabotage you," she said on one of her fan websites. "There were girls that would break heels off of your shoe when you weren't looking. They would pour ink down your dress." Looks like the dark-haired beauty proved that nice girls definitely don't finish last.

The other career that's more cutthroat than acting in Tinseltown, according to Shahi: cheerleading! The former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader told USA Today, "Cheerleading was my way in. It was one of the most rigorous audition processes ever. It definitely groomed me for Hollywood."

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More fun facts about the 33-year-old: She's the love child of Catwoman and Jason Bourne. OK, she's not, but that's how Shahi describes her character, assassin Sam Shaw, on "Person of Interest."

In real life, she's the great-great-granddaughter of an Iranian shah. She didn't get any precious metals or jewels out of that lineage, but at least she has those pageant crowns and a badass job on one of TV's most popular crime dramas.

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Does Shahi have any fantasies she wants to divulge? She sure does, but it's not nearly as sexy as you might think. She wants a pie thrown in her face! In 2008, she told TV Guide, "Whoever did that, that's the guy I'd marry. My boyfriends never had the nerve."

Looks like she married the right guy. Her husband, actor Steve Howey, threw a big, gooey pie in her face on her birthday. Her reaction: "It was awesome."

"Person of Interest" returns on Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 10 p.m. on CBS. 

Check out photos from "Person of Interest":