An unusual journey- A candid chat with Canadian Broadcaster Nira Arora

Nira Arora

On life in the media, her new fashion line and what she has learned after being a mom

The beginning
I grew up on the island in Nanaimo. I moved to Vancouver when I was 18. I went to SFU and wanted to become a lawyer. At this point I wanted to get my degree and pursue law school. Something along the way changed. I was doing a lot of different events and shows at SFU. I joined the Indo Canadian Student Association. Apart from acting, I was also hosting lots of shows and events. I was hosting a show; someone was there from FROM THE MULTICULTURAL CHANNEL filming some segments and they thought I had some potential. They had a show called Zindagi at that time. The producer and the creator of the show ATISH asked me if I was interested in doing some segments of the show. I started recording and producing segments for the show. I changed my MAJOR to Communications and started volunteering AT THE TV STATION.  During that time I realized that I need to make a change; I WANTED TO WORK IN MEDIA. I changed my focus and my passion WAS DEFINITLY GEAR IN the field of media.  AFTER I RECEIVED MY DEGREE AT SFU I joined the journalism program at BCIT which I pursued part time in the evenings. I got an internship at VTV WHICH IS NOW CTV, as a production assistant. I worked there full time during the day and I did my BCIT courses at night and then I worked at the bank over the weekend. It was pretty crazy and hectic for a while.

The Beat
I started with The Beat when it launched in 2002. I have now been with the station for ALMOST eleven years.   I STARTED DOING ENTERTAINMENT REPORTS AND TRAFFIC IN THE AFTERNOON, AND THEN WENT ON TO HOST THE EVENING SHOW AND HAVE NOW BEEN HOSTING MORNING RADIO FOR EIGHT YEARS.  I HOST BEAT MORNINGS WITH HOLLY, JONNY, NIRA AND AMY.  I LOVE MY CREW- AND TRUST ME THAT’S HARD TO DO AT 4:30 IN THE MORNING!

On a different road – Being a South Asian in mainstream media
It’s kind of funny at first. At events people would ask me where I work and I would say The Beat 94.5 and they would go, “Oh! But you should do Indian radio”. And I would say, ”No that’s great too but I would really like to do mainstream media”. People tend to assume that you stay in the community you are from, especially in media. I think it’s really neat to be a part of mainstream media. It took me a long time to be me without being scared of what my community might think about the things I say. And then I came to the realization that when a doctor is a doctor they are just a doctor no matter what community they belong to. Similarly with other professions like lawyers and accountants, I am no different! I am a broadcaster so I obviously I have morals values and ethics but I cannot put restrictions on myself because I am Indian. If people want to judge me based on that it IT’S OBVIOUSLY not fair; BUT If it happens it happens, IN THE END at least I am being true and I am being real.

I am very careful of the way I say things because that’s the way I am as a person. If there are certain conversations that come up on the radio that are risqué I like to take the higher approach, for example the big joke on our radio station is that I did not even hold hands with my husband until I was married.  WHEN Anything like that is mentioned on the show I try to make fun of it sometimes over exaggerating IT, THAT WAY parents who are listening do not feel uncomfortable and the younger ones know that we are kind of being tongue in cheek about it. The other good thing I think about the experience of being Indian and on being on the radio is that I can talk about a lot of positive things about our culture on air. Sometimes we get stereotyped in a certain way but talking about our amazing celebrations and festivals on air like Diwali and Baisakhi gives me a chance to showcase important parts of our culture and bring it to the mainstream community. I also talk a lot about the positive attributes of our culture like how giving our culture is and how much love we LOVE OUR BIG FAMILIES AND OF COURSE our companionship. So I think a lot of my cultural stuff comes positively on air too. I always love saying I am Indian. I’d say stuff like I obviously do that because I am Indian. I love promoting the fact that I am Indian and I think I come across like that as well.

Other Paths and passions
I am really interested in fashion. With my dad and sister in law I am in the process of launching a fashion line of Indian clothes called “Impressions by Arora”! We just had our first fashion party where we invited some friends and family to see some of the pieces we have created. Right now we are creating a website, getting business cards ready and focussing on making it a proper business. I also love to blog.  I have a couple of blogs you will find on The Beat website, AND I’VE BEEN CONTINUING WITH TV AS WELL, I TRY TO FIT IN MY FREELANCE TELEVISION GIGS.  I’VE ALSO BEEN WRITING A COLUMN CALLED ‘NIRA’S HOT LIST’ FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS, IT’S ON LINE FOR BC LIVING MAGAZINE.

I have always done acting throughout my whole life since I was in elementary school and I continued doing that throughout my term at SFU as well.

I love playing sports, I was playing and organizing Softball Leagues RIGHT UP UNTIL I HAD my son.

Transition from a small town to Vancouver
Where I came from there wasn’t a huge Indian population at all so it was a different experience. When I came to Vancouver I thought, so this is where everyone is! It was a kind of major culture shock for me. I LOVE THE FACT THAT I GREW UP in a small town. I LOVE THE small town values, the closeness to your family, THE OPEN DOOR POLICY, TALKING to strangers, THE COMMUNITY FEEL- all that kind of stuff is important to me and it stays on with you, still being an important part of your personality.  BUT TRUST ME I LOVE The big city of Vancouver as well.  I’M LUCKY THAT I HAD A CHANCE TO LIVE BOTH EXPERIENCES.

Family and values
I am very close to my parents AND MY BROTHER.  MY BROTHER WHO just got married and actually ended up becoming the lawyer in the family which is kind of funny!  My parents had given up hope ON BOTH OF US AFTER I changed my career path so drastically.

My husband is Garry Gill and my son’s name is Shae, WE ALSO HAVE AN ENGLISH BULLDOG NAMED BOSKO.

I’M A PRETTY SPIRITUAL PERSON which I THINK IS a little different from being religious I guess. I DEFINITLY believe in karma!  WHAT GOES AROUND HAS GOT TO COME AROUND!

Self Discovery- Reflections on being a mother
After being a MOM life changed for me. I am a lot more laid back and relaxed. The things that used to bother me before do not anymore because I think there are bigger and better things to look forward to in life. I have been a very obsessive compulsive type of person MY WHOLE LIFE, things ALWAYS had to be a certain way, I have always been very particular about a lot of things but since I had Shae I am more relaxed about a lot of stuff and that has turned out to be really good for me.  CHILDREN REALLY ARE BLESSINGS!

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