Asha Dahya is truly living her dream job; a job that she has crafted herself through hard work and her love of positive stories from around the world. She has worn many hats in the entertainment industry, but her creation of the website Girl Talk HQ is definitely her favorite, as she is able to empower others by sharing stories of inspiring, creative, women from around the world.
Where did everything start for you? What's your background?
I was born in the UK, raised in Australia, am Indian by ethnicity, and have been living in the US since 2008! I am a millennial, and have been working in the TV industry for 13 years. I have worked for both broadcast and digital networks such as Disney, Nickelodeon, MTV, ABC, MSN, Myspace, TV Guide, Nine Network Australia, Fox and many more. Although I have mostly worked in the entertainment/lifestyle space, as I hit my late 20s I realized I wanted to do more with my skills and passion and started to think of ways I could create opportunities for myself. After going through a pretty rough divorce at age 29, which I definitely did not plan, that became the catalyst and "ah-ha" moment for me to make a big change in my career.
How did you find yourself in your current job?
So following on from my divorce, in late 2012 I launched a website called GirlTalkHQ.com which started out as a hobby for me but soon became pretty much my full time passion and job. The few years prior, I really started realizing how valuable my network of female friends were, especially during my divorce as my family were across the other side of the world in Australia and UK. While in real life my support system was great, when I would look at the media, it really bummed me out that the most empowering content (think Oprah Winfrey, Brene Brown etc) was aimed at the older generation and there was a huge gap for millennial women. Most of the media sites were geared toward all the stereotypical things the world thinks women only like: fashion, beauty, celebs. I was craving the one-stop site where I could find badass stories of inspiring women who overcame triumph, who were doing amazing progressive things in politics, and who were changing the world through social justice (and everything in between).
At the time I had created a Tumblr account called 'GirlTalkHQ' where I was just reblogging all the inspiring articles I could find on the web and consolidating them into one "space". Then it hit me: I should turn GirlTalkHQ into a web platform that shared all the articles I wanted to read and make a one-stop destination for other women who wanted the same. I envisioned it as the "Huffington Post of Female Empowering News Media & Blog Posts". So that's how I started the website and it has grown from that basic idea into the thriving community it is today.
What do you love most about Girl Talk HQ?
That I get to wake up everyday and write articles about women doing inspiring, world-changing, game-changing things to make society more equal. One of the things my other blogger friends warned me as I was getting started was that I will get many requests from people, and that I would probably have to say "no" to 90% of them. Well it turns out I have to say "yes" to 90% of requests because they are so in line with and on brand with my GirlTalkHQ mission. I feel that is a huge testament and compliment to the message I have been building with this site, that so many people write to me each week wanting to be featured on the site as they want to be part of a platform that inspires and empowers its readers with every bit of content.
Has this experience changed how you feel about your career going forward?
Absolutely! I have never before had the confidence to think I could be responsible for creating an idea from inception to execution. I was always the hired host, hired talent etc. But now I realize how much more value I can bring to the table with my opinions, ideas and passions. With every other project I am a part of outside of GirlTalkHQ.com, I bring that same entrepreneur mentality with me, knowing that I am not just a hired lackey, but now bring with me a powerful branding and message that sets me apart from the rest.
Were there any lessons learned from mistakes you made or missteps,or specific things about this experience that you think would help others in working towards their DreamJob?
I have made many mistakes throughout my career and no doubt will continue to do so, as that's often the way I learn the best lessons. I think the best advice I would give to others working toward their dream job or career is not to take a mistake or an accident as the be all and end all. Everyone is human, we all fail sometimes. The real test comes in how we choose to pick ourselves up after. Do we give up and give in to fear? Or do we rise to the challenge, determined to get better and better? Wherever possible, find mentors and role models because in them you have an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and be one step ahead of others in your field.
And finally, don't always take criticism toward your work or performance personally, be a willing listener and be open to change.
What is the best piece of career advice you have heard? Do you have any advice for our readers on finding their ideal career or dream job?
There are so many one-liners I have heard over the years, but the one that really sticks with me is the simplest: work hard. And be willing to work hard. No one wants to work with a grumpy, ungrateful person who thinks they are better than where they are at. Let's face it, the economy did a number on ALL of us and there are many talented people in the entertainment biz who deserve to be starring in their own show. Believe me, I would much rather have been hosting 'Cupcake Wars', rather than being one of the many production assistants who would buy tea and coffee for the executive producers or drive contestants to buy ingredients for their baking sessions. However, I learned so much about my own determination by being a cheerful and easy person to work with. Just because we may not be doing the ideal job we ultimately want right now, doesn't mean we shouldn't work just as hard in our part-time waitress job, or weekend bartender gig. If we can work hard where we are at now, if we are responsible to take whatever we are entrusted with right now, then once we finally land that dream gig, we can have complete confidence we know what we are doing and we worked hard to get here.
What's next for you?
With GirlTalkHQ, I am working with a big Canadian Creative advertising agency on a major campaign they are launching this month which I can't say too much about right now, but it has a strong feminist political message. We were chosen to be the platform to share the idea and it involves a certain famous Canadian politician. Stay tuned for more!
I am also currently working as a reporter/correspondent for a political site called Blue Nation Review and we are in the midst of covering both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the lead up to the November elections.
And aside from those two jobs, I have been developing a docu-series idea around women's reproductive rights that I plan to host and produce, and am about to start pitching it to production companies and networks.