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August is here!

First off, we wanted to thank all of you who attended our second annual Didi Talks panel, focused on diversity in journalism. We would also like to thank all of our speakers Eternity Martis, Mahnoor Yawar, Shireen Ahmed and Haley Lewis for making time for this discussion. You can catch up with the panel’s highlights here.
So much in this industry has changed in the last few months and Didihood will continue to inspire young South Asian journalists and work towards making our industries more diverse.

Didihood also got a chance to moderate a panel on being Brown and Proud, partnering up with the Infusion-YA Book Festival in Vancouver. Co-founder Roohi Sahajpal spoke to authors Sabina Khan, Nafiza Azad and Mintie Das. You watch the discussion here. 

Meet the Didi:
Who doesn’t love a good meal? Vijaya Selvaraju is a chef, TV host and food personality. She also dabbles in video production and runs her own Instagram page. This month, we find out how this Didi turned her passion for food into a full-time career.
Photo credit: @ktchnproductions

When did you first start creating content online?
I first started creating content of my own in university. I would post about the things I cooked, my food experiences abroad that I captured in vlogs and the things I ate out at restaurants. Shortly after I began creating recipe videos for YouTube because I wanted to encourage more young people to get in the kitchen and learn how to cook for themselves.

Why did you decide to stick with South Asian food?
I have been passionate about food ever since I was a little girl. In fact, compared to most children I think I’d watch more food programs on television than cartoons. So in a way I feel food chose me.
Also, there weren’t many voices in the media singing the praises of South Asian food. Being from Tamilnadu, and growing up in my family’s South Indian catering business, I wanted to show viewers how rich and diverse Indian food was, and that it wasn’t limited to dishes like butter chicken and naan.

In the lifestyle and food space, there is often very little room for South Asian women. Did you face any barriers trying to get into this space? 
I feel like I started in media at a time where my South Asian roots were deeply embraced. I don’t feel like I was ever limited by an outlet to prepare just Indian food or to be the “Indian Chef.” Luckily for me, we always built a narrative around the food I enjoyed and was best able to prepare. I’m fortunate to have had some really great experiences, and to have worked for companies who are collaborative when it comes to the collective vision of a project.

Photo provided by Vijaya Selvaraju 
What advice do you have for other Didis who are interested in creating their own online content, especially on platforms like YouTube?
Do it. I find that people who want to create often hesitate because they feel the time isn’t right, that the market is saturated with creators or that they don’t have the right equipment.
Let it be known that my first vlogs were filmed on a laptop, and looked super pixelated, but I didn’t let that hold me back. There is nothing more gratifying than working on a piece of content that means something and sharing it with the world.

What’s next for you?
We have some amazing new cooking videos coming to the channel very soon, and fun collaborations with some cool brands. Stay tuned.

Upcoming Events: 

Didihood’s 2020 Mentorship Program
We’ve heard a lot of feedback over the last month from South Asian journalists who said they never had a mentor in the industry who was of colour, or never had a mentor at all. This has always been a central reason as to why mentorship is a core pillar of Didihood. The application form for the 2020 Mentorship Program is now open. Fill out the form here. The program will run virtually this year from September to December with mentors and mentees meeting once a month through phone calls or video chats.

Also on our radar:
The City of Mississauga is offering grants to creatives and the deadline is August 19. One of the grants is for a documentary on South Asian creatives in the city. For more information, click here. 

What we’re reading: 
With so much attention on Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking, there have been so many think pieces following Sima Aunty’s quest to find people love. Vulture writer Mallika Rao looked at how the show was really just the reality of how some South Asians date and get married and writer Meher Manda broke down the show’s portrayals of colourism, caste and culture for Bustle.

Also, Didihood was recently featured in this Ryerson Review of Journalism on how community organizations are working towards boosting inclusion in all-too-white professions. Read it here. We were also mentioned in this mentorship in Canadian media piece by Sadiya Ansari.

— Arti Patel

Issue 30
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