Interview with Shemiza Rashid, balances 4 jobs and 6 children

Occupation: Juggles 4 jobs and 6 kids can balance 3 cups of ice coffee and a pet spider …and has mastered how to hide in a cupboard with a chocolate cake and not get caught by the kids!
Shemiza Rashid is a multi-award winning social and cultural entrepreneur, multi disciplinary artist producer, broadcaster, sixth form teacher, mentor and mother of six. She is the founder of the children’s performing arts club Shining Ummah. Shemiza is a growing voice across community and regional radio, where she presents the dynamic Urban Kube show on InspireFM and regularly features doing the Sunday paper review on BBC Three Counties Radio. She has also produced the celebrity cooking show ‘For the Love of Food’ on Islam Channel and also presents the quirky lifestyle television series Living the life on the channel . She was presented the prestigious Asian Women of Achievement Award for Public Service in 2014 and she was shortlisted for Best Female Muslim Radio Presenter and Most Innovative Radio show at the Momo Awards.
Shemiza is also a mentor as part of her role as a woman of the future ambassador and mentors school and sixth form students in particular girls on career aspirations and progression. She has been described as a mini media media powerhouse by sisters magazine and a bright voice in dark times by the Huffington post.
1) What led you to do the work that you do now?
I never wanted to be a broadcast journalist because I was dyslexic and it felt there were limitations. I slowly learnt that I have a good ear for a story and could be the person to find and tell stories. Now, I make sure the voices that I love and excite and inspire me are I call myself a storyteller enabler rather than a journalist
The older I have become I be learned to trust my instinct and not be fearful of barriers any more. We are surrounded by so many walls most of them are in our head . To not be frightened to take challenges . My greatest challenge to date has been being commissioned to write a performance piece about Brexit. The short monologue called ‘A Basket Full of Brexit’ performed by Catherine McDonough was well received. Writing and watching the piece being performed has been exciting and nerve wracking . I wrote the evocative piece from the perspective of a white female in her early 50’s who voted out of the EU ,and her changing perceptions on what being British is really about . This is the new phase of my creative journey I’m very much moved and inspired by human crisis and conflict and wish to use my writing to create theatre and film as it worries me that we are becoming so desensitised by human crisis . To showcase and move people through the median of theatre and film Will help to reawaken our humanity , to move us and to take action and motivate kindness.
2) What has helped you maintain success in the work that you do?
I think it has been important to connect with those that you know in the creative space.
When they have been effective with the work that they do and I see this, it gives me strength and enables me to do push on with energy to do what I do . As I don’t feel alone in my journey . Empowering and lifting others in particular women. Being consistent .
I’m drawn to kindness anybody who shows no fear to break the norm and show an assuming kindness really inspire me . And It’s those voices and those stories that can create , connect and inspire change. My passion is to connect with the hard to reach people, and tell their stories. As I am unable to travel across the country to do this, I use social media to connect. It can make such a difference if you know how to manage it. Social media enables you to reach audiences globally. It I have been quite conscious of the fact that I need to also wean off it more as it does consume a lot of time . It’s good to have days when you can cut the social media umbilical cord and breath .
3) What led you to do the work that you do now?
My children inspired , motivated my decision to venture towards this field, becoming a mother and bringing children into a world that seems to be governed by a grey shade of humanity . I just needed to motivate and echo positivity and radiate that through my work
 Community Radio happened by chance and so privileged it did so . I’m privileged to be inspired by the wonderful voices that are helping to inspire a new generation of creatives and pioneers. Amazing voices helping to inspire light in dark times privileged to be part of a station that will be celebrating its 20th year this year.
4) When did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
I am still on a creative journey of discovery am i am still open to find what I want to do .
People say I do so many different roles – I think it’s ok to be a multipotentialite as long as I do it well . However in relation to radio i knew it was what i wanted to continue doing the day I received a message from a sister who had struggled with post-natal depression for 5 years saying that she looked forward to the show every week and it inspired her to launch her own art club, or when young people call in motivated by the people that they have heard allowing them to become more confident in their identities.  That was THE defining moment for me. Knowing that their source of comfort or inspiration was the radio, I was exposed to the power of voice and good content which can help people with mental health problems. When you can provide some respite through your content you remember why you do it. It genuinely surprised me that people were listening. We were providing people with friends in their own solitude. Sometimes, people’s only company is radio.’
5) Was it a clear choice from the beginning?
‘Hardly. Did you know I was very nervous about giving my voice out on the radio? We come from Radio Ramadan which has a very different tone. At first, I didn’t want anyone to know my name or face and refused to put my name out.
However As I started to hear from beautiful people who benefited from the show, I could understand that we were inspiring people to write and enter competitions. People were going on to set up their own talk shows and develop their own creativity and collaborations. It became a service, giving back to the community got more addictive as I started to find more inspiring people- it made me feel better about the world around me. I produce, present, research and find guests to come on Urban Kube by myself. A mainstream radio show will have at least 3 producers working on the content and the presenters will check it over an hour before the show goes live. It really surprises me when I complete my show live – considering the crazy chaos putting the show together all by myself .
6) Can you say something about the challenges Muslim women face in today’s society?
It’s seems to be we are having to try three times as hard to be accepted because we are Muslim and we are an ethnic minority and we are women. Some folk seem to assume the hijab or what Muslim women wear is the only thing that defines us   It’s getting soooooo boring to hear and observe ! Move on people change the record, lets spend more time discussing what has gone in to making the fabric  we wear and challenge if it’s ethical or sustainable?
I am surrounded by so many seriously epic Muslim women! It’s just the norm
for my 3 sons and 3 daughters to see, hear and meet amazing Muslimah role models , because they are all we know amongst many other awesome individuals from the wider community .
 It’s great producing on a Muslim radio show, because my aim is to highlight the amazing stories that are deliberately or not picked up on the radar of mainstream . The urban Kube showcase faith inspired creativity and positive action . interestingly mainstream media has often connected with the guests from show, can you blame them they are great real raw vibrant women and male Muslim voices .
Recently I had the pleasure of being invited to contribute and explore a BBC three County radio piece as part of world faith week on faith and inner beauty- with artist Moriam Grillo this successfully showcased on to the BBC radio two website along with notable creatives and personalities like Benjamin Zephaniah , Katie piper. Discussing what makes people beautiful . It was wonderful to be able to share how faith can inspire beauty from within through our actions in a world surrounded by the pressures of external beauty marketing .
7) What is the best thing about your job?
Unpredictability – Every day is different a journey of discovery I have so many different roles, in reference to the radio I love that the Urban Kube surprises its listeners with vibrant Jolly engaging guests and stories .I also enjoy meeting the wonderful guests some whom go on to become great friends ! The guests don’t seem to be running out 6 years on.
Motherhood has to be the coolest role – unpredictable, cute chaos .
8) Can you tell me about a challenge that you face and how do you overcome it?
Leaving the house without any baby food on my clothes… really, leaving with no baby goo on me is the biggest challenge!
People have always been intrigued that I have 6 children. This can get frustrating, but it has also become part of my identity. When I’m hosting live lifestyle events and I drop the I’m a mom of 6 kids that’s when everyone starts listening to me., it’s a great crowd pleaser. The greatest and most fulfilling challenge, has been trying to balance work, motherhood and creativity.
In relation to the changing roles and demands on women to have it all- my advice is if you can’t- or don’t want to, there should never be a pressure to do it all (it’s not for everybody). Whatever you do , do it to the best of your capability . The pressure for many women is the consist social media updates of people’s over achievements which is brilliant on one hand but can cause an overwhelming inferior complexity for people who think they are underachieving, and impact mental health .
9) And in terms of the work you do with media… for any budding journalists out there- any advice?
Network – do your ground work . Attend events, connect with people who have a consistent work profile. Find your own voice and area of interest and be consistent with it .
Learn the correct way to network on social media and person. Be humble do not ever let your success or others compliments or praise cloud that you still need to work on improving yourself. Always learn to follow a story from both sides.
Don’t underestimate the value of community media work experience .
Have a plan, and work towards it. support the next generation and don’t limit yourself.
10) Finally, what advice would you give a younger self?
I always dwell on that. I wish that somebody was a role model for me and someone told me education is not a luxury- it’s your right. I wish someone told me that I could be whoever I wanted to be I would also tell myself to believe in myself unapologetically .
‘As for the low moments- grab them and take stock of them. Life isn’t a bed of roses, those challenges and storms are what make you as a person. The best moments in my life have been when I have been penniless. To be able to get through these, you need to take stock of you being who you are. Life is too fast right now. We are waiting for the next best thing to satisfy our rush and fix – that’s why exploring and engaging with environmental and ethical issues makes me feel a lot more sane in an insane world.’
11) How are you carrying this all forward now?
I have been a teacher at Luton Sixth Form for 15 years . Apart from educating also try to mentor young people to ensure that every girl understands and appreciates her value. To leave with the confidence to achieve what she wants to achieve. I think it is essential that every girl is equipped with the skills to provide for herself. This language now is still important for them to hear and must continue for generations to come. Young people need these voices of encouragement so much more now in these testing times.

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