Since Muslims Like Us I have overwhelmingly positive feedback and I think it’s because there is a lack of Asian representation in the media, so as soon as people, especially young Asian girls, saw someone who vaguely reminded them of themselves, they were really interested and wanted to find out more about me. So my social media exploded and therefore TV companies gained a lot of interest in me. Because before that if we watched TV, all we had to see to remind ourselves of someone like us is Goodness Gracious Me which isn’t a real representation of what Asian people are like these days. I wasn’t ever really into TV ironically growing up, maybe subconsciously that was because there was no one I could look up to and aspire to be like. I was into music so people like Rihanna and Beyoncé… I wouldn’t say I looked up to them, though. I looked up to real people in real life because you could aspire to be like them and it was realistic.
In my house, we’ve always been taught that everything is done in balance, everything is done in moderation, nothing is done in the extreme, so I can’t tell you I feel more Asian than British or British than Asian. There are parts of both my cultures that I adore and I embrace and there are parts of both my cultures that I’m not so keen on, that I don’t necessarily participate in. I don’t drink, so it doesn’t mean I won’t ever go to a pub, but you won’t ever find me getting drunk with my friends at the same time. I don’t dress in a way where you would typically expect an Asian girl to dress, I dress in a very western way. So I embrace the bits of both that I like and I think it makes quite a balanced mix.
I hope that the new path that I’ve chosen, to be on television, to be a broadcast journalist, to go and explore issues that aren’t necessarily really addressed is successful. When it comes to TV, the main issue as we see surrounding Islam, surrounding the Asian community, are things like honour killings and forced marriages and female genital mutilation and I think we have day to day issues as British Asian young people that we don’t necessarily see, and I want to create a more positive image on TV. I want our daughters to be able to grow up and have someone who reminds them of them. We need more positive young Muslim role models that young people can relate to, because right now it’s an ongoing cycle of lack of representation or unreliable representation in the media. You hear a lot of extreme voices, and when you’re constantly told you’re a villain, people will start to believe it, so we need people that also look like heros to counteract it.
What can stand in the way is for example recently with the attacks, the Manchester attack, the Westminster attack, the Muslims as a whole get quite a, a very negative response. And when something like that happens it becomes very difficult for people to be able to go back on TV again and say “hey, here I am and I’m a normal one, and we’re actually the majority” because then again my voice becomes silenced by the overwhelming negative response that’s going on, especially across social media. So that’s a barrier but I hope to overcome it.