King Trailblazer – Asha Dahya

August 26, 2015

Feminism has evolved from the days of bra burning, to a time when seriously bad-ass, empowered individuals are celebrated for their trailblazing ways. That’s what I love most about Girl Talk HQ, it’s not just paving the way for future Bell Hooks and Alan Alda’s, it’s also defying stereotypes. Founding editor Asha Dahya talks about the importance of continuing the conversation and creating inspiring content. MC, editor

Talk us through how you took Girl Talk HQ from an idea in your head to a plausible business.

I started by creating a Tumblr account as a canvas to flesh out ideas. As time went on, and as other versions of my passion didn’t work out, I realized I needed to make this into a proper blog / website as I knew it was something I wanted to do. I saw many of my LA friends create their own businesses starting from a blog and that encouraged me.

Once I started creating content, I could see that it resonated with readers and I started getting requests to write articles and interview people, and PR agencies wanted to pay for sponsored content. It was then I realized this was more than just a blog or a hobby, it was my business.

People often talk about a breakthrough moment being the building block of their career. Can you tell us a little about yours? And were there any “wading through mud” moments you had to get through?

I definitely had one particular breakthrough. First, I’ll rewind a bit and tell you that before I launched GirlTalkHQ in November 2012, I had been a TV and web host for almost 10 years and worked for some major networks (MTV, Fox, Disney & more). I felt accomplished but also very lost in that I didn’t know what my “fit” or passion was.

In 2012 I went through a horrendous divorce from a guy who was an addict and very abusive. I realized, once I extricated myself from that toxic environment, that the marriage had been holding me back from achieving what I wanted in life. Going through a divorce also made me realize how important my girlfriends were. I started to think about all the women who go through what I went through, and worse, but don’t have a support system. We can’t escape the media as a source of information and influence in our lives and it saddened me that there wasn’t more positive, empowering media content aimed at millennial women.

I then knew I was in a unique position to create something with my work and personal life experience to help other women understand that they are valued.

Girl Talk HQ Asha portrait

Thanks to the #LikeAGirl and #Girlboss movements, female empowerment seems to be claiming the limelight more and more. How do you think the conversation will evolve?

For decades, the media has portrayed a disempowered female archetype where she is seen as a powerless being / object, and the man is the powerful one doing the objectifying. This has become so ingrained that we consider it “normal”. It wasn’t until Dove started challenging those conventions a little over a decade ago that people thought “hang on, they’re onto something here!”

The notion that a brand can sell to women without preying on their self-esteem has been the catalyst for many more brands and labels to follow suit. So I think the conversation has evolved in the way that it is allowing new archetypes of women and girls to be portrayed in these mediums while also being a vehicle to challenge our stereotypes and attitudes. If one brand can turn the normally insulting phrase “like a girl” into something powerful and positive, they are doing something right!

Hopefully now we will start to see more examples like this where women aren’t used as the butt of a joke or as an object to sell a product.

Audiences want authenticity and the best way to achieve that is to find your voice, your message and your passion

From Taylor Swift to Malala Yousafzai, feminism comes in different guises. Who do you consider to be key modern day influencers and why?

I agree, I think there is more than one influencer and they span a number of generations. Malala, Taylor Swift, Tavi Gevinson, Emma Watson, Beyonce, Hillary Clinton, Amy Schumer, and many more have proved that the message of feminism can be disseminated in a range of ways. In fact, the more the merrier! It shouldn’t just be political.

The important thing about this latest wave of feminism in the social media age is that we need to remember intersectionality is a huge part of it, everyone interprets feminism a little differently, and that’s okay. The more “celebrity” feminists can use their platform to speak out, the more I hope it will influence everyday women to take action in their own lives.

As more and more self-starters take to spaces such as YouTube to explore creative ideas, they also risk meeting a saturated market. What advice would you give them about maintaining career longevity?

Find your passion and lead with that. Don’t start a blog or YouTube channel because you saw someone else did and you want that too. What I’ve learned since finding my niche, is that jealousy and comparison are a huge waste of time because they prevent us from finding our true “fit”.

Audiences want authenticity and the best way to achieve that is to find your voice, your message and your passion. The rest will fall into place as you discover where you need to be to share it.

Also if you want longevity, think long term, work hard, make alliances not enemies and constantly learn from those better than you.

*images c/o Angelo Sgambati and Girl Talk HQ

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