I still remember the day a message popped up saying:
We are writing to congratulate you as a finalist of the Best Blog Category at this year’s Asian Media Awards.
The event will showcase the very best talent working in the Asian media industry and those working in the mainstream media.
I had to take a moment, and then look at the message again. Me? Finalist? Asian Media Awards?
The Asian Media Awards, established in 2013, recognise the very best talent working in the British Asian and mainstream media, and people such as Ibz Mo, Taran Bassi and Jay Shetty won the ‘Best Blog’ category in previous years.
To think that after 4 and a half years my blog was worthy of being a finalist in such a prestigious set of awards was such a motivation boost for me, and using my platform to be a voice against unethical animal activities and animal cruelty had been the reason why I had been selected, alongside 4 other incredibly talented influencers, with all of us raising acutely challenging issues, and all of us writing about significantly different topics.
On 24 October we drove to Manchester for the event, which took place at The Hilton Manchester Deansgate. I was excited to be back in Manchester for it, for it was what was known as UMIST back in the day where I got my M.Sc. in Marketing.
The much deserved winner of my category, Arooj, uses Instagram and her blog Vogue Wonders to raise awareness about neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a genetic condition which causes tumours to grow along her nerves. You may have spotted her previously on the BBC Newsbeat documentary, ‘My Tumour Made Me Trendy’ and if you aren’t following her already, you should, as she has some sensational style, and her signature look is styling menswear, often with a big beaming smile. Find her here.
Alongside myself, the other finalists included one of my favourite personalities on Twitter, Mita Mistry, who is a columnist for Eastern Eye always sharing really helpful information as well as her views on current issues that may impact personal development and health.
Every day she spreads positive empowering messages on her Twitter account and she has gotten the Asian community to talk about mental health more.
The shortlist also had their first set of identical twins, Soni and Noorie Grewal, who manage their own lifestyle brand, The Grewal Twins, covering music, art, discussions, style and wellness.
The twins’ British and Sikh Punjabi identity plays an integral role in how they express themselves creatively and on a day-to-day basis. They regularly cover topics such as the love/hate relationship with social media, Sikh traditions and stories with a powerful theme amalgamated with poignant and reflective images. The blog includes poetry, cultural analysis and art projects that honour Indian tradition through paintings.
Last but not least in our category shortlist was The Punjabi League, a UK based group which gives a voice to young British Punjabi’s and whose aim is to raise awareness to British Asians about key historical moments in India and in the Punjab region as well as discussing current topics that impact BritPunjabis.
One of their most significant blogs raised awareness of the 100 years that marked the Jallianwala Bush massacre. The Punjabi League used the arts, English poetry and Indian classical dance to showcase this massacre and were even asked to be a part of the BBC news documentary about the massacre.
They have subsequently raised awareness of Indian Independence Day and have made poignant video blogs on the migration of Indians to the UK in the 1940s and 1950s.
As you can see, all vastly different blogs, and all raising awareness on very important topics!
The evening was a very classy one, with everyone dressed formally in Black Tie, and the event space was beautifully decorated, with the catering from PAYAL. The food was absolutely incredible.
Highlights for me included seeing legendary royal photographer, Anwar Hussein, getting recognition for his absolutely outstanding work spanning decades, covering the Royal Family as well as Nelson Mandela, The Beatles and Bob Marley, just to name a few! Some of his more recent photographs include Meghan Markle as well as Prince William, Princess Kate and the children. Most of the photos you will have seen in the press or released by The Royal Family are taken by him, as well as classic ones of Princess Diana.
Journalist Ash Sarkar was named Media Personality of the Year 2019, and she totally deserved it for constantly speaking her mind, challenging things that happen to P.O.C and fighting for what she believes in.
What really impressed me about the event was how superbly it was organised and how professional it was. The level of talent in the room was just outstanding, be it Radio, TV, Journalists or Bloggers, and really inspired me to continue to work hard on my platforms and to continue being a voice to raise awareness about issues that I am passionate about, especially concerning animal welfare.
It was an absolute honour being a finalist and an amazing event to be part of amongst some incredible people. I got to make some lovely new friends in my category, all of us continuing to clap for one another, and giving each other lots of support even after the event. I am very grateful to the Asian Media Awards for bringing us all together.
I do believe we are game changers in the Asian community and beyond and we will all make an impact.
If you want to read the full winners list visit the website here: https://asianmediaawards.com/asian-media-awards-2019-winners/
Find out more about The Asian Media Awards here: https://asianmediaawards.com/