Amena grew up dreaming of being a presenter and actress but didn’t think it would be possible due to the lack of representation of South Asian women in mainstream media. As a result, she pursued the academic route at University and became a Science teacher. Thanks to the internet, she filmed a YouTube video while she was on maternity leave which led to her getting her first paid job on YouTube and the rest is history. I’ve known Amena for a few years. She is a formidable force, a wonderful mother and an incredible businesswoman whose energy lifts every space she steps in.
You were a teacher in a previous life, what inspired you to make the leap into the digital space?
I was on maternity leave and decided to film a video showing how to tie my hijab. I didn’t think anyone would find it, so when the comments starting coming on the YouTube video, I got super excited.
How did you get into content creation?
I’ve always filmed content, way before online forms became accessible. My dad’s home videos are filled with my acting and dancing projects!
What inspires you?
Storytelling and beautiful imagery.
Your content has changed over the past couple of years. You started integrating more of your family into your content, was this a conscious decision or something that happened more naturally?
I think it started happening more naturally after my kids were old enough to consent to being online. Creating more parenting and lifestyle content has been so fun – the whole community element of being online means you grow a connection with your followers so you feel like sharing a bit more than tutorials!
Your creativity seems to stem from books and literature. Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love art in all its forms – so I get inspired by words, beauty, colours, fashion, textures, and visuals that make me happy. I just enjoy sharing art and being inspired by it. It relaxes me a lot.
When you first started out in the industry there were very few South Asian women in the space. What barriers did you have to push through at the start of your career as a result of this and do you still feel there are barriers out there you need to breakthrough?
In the beginning, it was partly optimism and partly naivety to ignore the barriers and just carry on doing what I do and being myself. In my mind, talent and hard work stand out – and that’s definitely true. But through the years I’ve noticed the barriers that exist for South Asian women, mostly grounded in social media algorithms but also perpetuated by expectations of us both within the community and outside of it. The most important thing is to remember to just carry on doing what we do best – our greatest barrier is actually the fear we carry within ourselves!
Name three other South Asian content creators we should follow.
- Aadil Abedi
- Annam Ahmed
- Sakina Aleem
- Rupinda Mundra
- Afshan Azad
- Safwan Ahmedmia
… sorry I got carried away!
Some of my favourite content of yours is the advice content you do with your sisters. As someone who has a sister, I know how precious and unconditional that bond can be. What three things have you learned from having sisters?
- Your makeup and skincare really is endless when you share stuff!
- Sisters can be the best of friends.
- Having shared memories – that kind of validation is priceless.
One of the things I admire about you is your empathy, lack of judgment and openness. It is something I noticed you translate in all aspects of your life from your content creation to being a mother. What lessons have you learned from being a mother?
So many! The most important one is to respect my children as their own people. I don’t own them. They aren’t my property, and they don’t owe me anything other than being themselves. I’m lucky and grateful that God allowed me to be a mum in the first place – to grow my family and to experience what love really is.
If you stopped being a content creator tomorrow, what do you see yourself doing?
I don’t have any other plan!
You recently worked with Bumble to highlight the impact women supporting each other can have on each other. You also champion this in your content. Why do you think this is something important?
I’ve seen lives transform when women support each other – even if it’s just with a friendly word or a moment of empathy. As women, when we support each other with words and actions, we actually grow the potential for us to be successful as both individuals and as a collective.
You speak a lot about therapy and how it helped you grow and develop as a person. As someone who has also gone through therapy, this is something I am passionate about sharing. Why do you think this is so important to talk about?
Everyone could benefit from therapy – that’s my personal belief! Doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, if you dig deep enough, there are wounded parts of us that need our love, care and attention. When we learn to be kinder to ourselves, we can impart that kindness onto others. The entire world can be a more loving and compassionate place when we as individuals start to change our inner world.
What does the rest of 2021 hold for you?
A lot more growth and a little bit of traveling!
What three things do you do to live a fulfilled life?
- I feed my body and my mind healthy things
- I choose to find God in everything
- I try my best to practice self-compassion
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