Photos by Angelo Sgambati
MIA ROSA Spotlight On
Writer, Blogger, Content Creator
Girl Talk HQ is a daily women’s news media site with a mission to inspire and empower. As written by its founder and creator, Asha Dahya, there is one main difference that sets them apart: the site will only focus on positive news.
Girl Talk HQ was launched in November 2012 and today is a go-to destination for women looking for content that focuses on the representation of women in the media.
Asha Dahya is our featured MIA ROSA Spotlight this month. We caught up with the busy blogger for what turned out to be a compelling interview.
- What prompted you to create GirlTalkHQ?
After working in the media as a host and producer for 12 years in Australia and here in Los Angeles, I started to change what I was passionate about and began to refocus. Instead of hosting TV and online shows about celebrities and pop culture, I got bored and instead started becoming interested in the stories of women, feminism and the struggles we face in the world.
After going through a divorce at the age of 29, it helped me refocus and cut out the superficial stuff from my life, including my work in entertainment. I started GirlTalkHQ as a Tumblr initially, where I would share articles about women I thought were badass and doing important things in the world.
I wondered why there weren’t more sites like this, where you could go to find all the empowering newsmedia articles about women. So I decided I had to make GirlTalkHQ a proper website. It launched in November 2012 and, although it is the lowest paying job I’ve had (to date), it is by far my favorite!
- What stories or current projects have you the most excited?
Before answering that, I should mention that when I started GTHQ, a lot of my blogger friends warned me that I would get a lot of requests and end up saying no to 90 percent of them. I think it’s a testament to the strong theme of my website that I am able to say “yes” to 90 percent of requests, especially interviews.
My favorite interview was with documentary filmmaker Leslee Udwin who made ‘India’s Daughter’. It was the story surrounding the horrific gang rape of a girl in New Delhi in 2012. Leslee’s passion, determination and grit were infectious. What she created on screen was a wake-up call to anyone who is unaware of the gender violence problem in the world today.
What gets me most excited about curating and creating daily content for the site is the amazing women and projects that get pitched to me, which I feel honored to promote.
- Was there anyone you looked up to as you were getting started in the business? A mentor or someone in the public eye who inspired you?
On a professional level, I have always admired Arianna Huffington and how she built her Huffington Post empire. I love that she was also an immigrant and today has become one of the most authoritative and formidable voices in news media.
Having worked in production on five seasons of ‘America’s Next Top Model’, seeing someone like Tyra Banks up close and getting an inside look at how she built her brand from scratch was also inspiring. She has literally taken every bit of negativity thrown her way and turned it into a recipe for success. Whether you like her or not, there is no disputing how consistent her success is. Forget Madonna, this is a woman who knows how to evolve her career over time.
On a personal level, my mom is my hero. She raised three kids while my dad worked full time. And, as one of the eldest of six, and a two-time immigrant, she never had the luxury of focusing on herself. It wasn’t until her 50s that she decided to get a degree. She then got her Masters Degree, and today is a teacher at a high school where she just got promoted.
Outside of work, my Mom has been on mission trips with her church (they went to the Philippines for three weeks after the hurricane), and totally exemplifies what it’s like to be a hardworking woman who can successfully balance family and career.
- Are there one or two life, or “a-ha” moments that stand out in your mind?
The first would be going through a divorce at 29. I really depended on the support of the women in my life, especially those who had gone through what I had. It saddened me that the general media, being such a powerful platform, didn’t offer or foster similar support for women as I found in real life (this was in 2012 before the recent wave of female empowerment and feminism in pop culture).
The other “a-ha” moment came more recently. I have been thinking about trying to pitch an idea for a docu-series and considered a number of different topics I feel strongly about. I finally realized that my passion to talk about reproductive rights and change the dangerous conversations some conservatives are pushing in regard to abortion is something I want to explore.
- What advice would you give to aspiring journalists, bloggers, and entrepreneurs?
The best advice I can give is find your passion, and start with that. Everyone has something they are built to feel passionate about, and it’s a matter of finding out what that is and figuring out how you want to live it. For some, finding their passion is a hobby, for others it could be a career.
Don’t start a blog or a business just because it’s “the thing” to do right now. If you follow your passion and focus on your gifting, you will never feel like you don’t fit in or need to compete with others. Also, surround yourself with a support network who you can get advice, feedback and help from. I have found it invaluable in my life and career.
- How do you like to relax when not working (Friends? Workouts? Travel? Anything else?
I love traveling! My partner and I try and get on a plane as often as we can. He is a photographer and I am also freelance, so we’re lucky to have the freedom to choose when we want to travel. We’re also big foodies!
I also love to geek out on documentaries and spend time with my network of female filmmakers, who always inspire me to continue creating my own projects.
Video courtesy of GirlTalkHQ
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