“I Truly Believe There Is No Glass Ceiling That Women Cannot Shatter And Break Through!” Shay Grewal

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The beautiful Shay even pregnant she is stunning!

Who is Shay?

Okay! What a question, I have never been asked that before (laughing) So who is Shay. A person I’m a caring and personable. I have always described myself as I’m a woman first. Then a wife, a friend, daughter and a presenter. I’m not necessarily a feminist I don’t think. But I do believe in Women’s rights and I do believe in independence and as a woman, I am very independent. I have a beautiful family around me and I love and care for them. Actually now yeah thinking about it I am a feminist (laughing) I’ve never had to describe myself before so that must be the worst examples ever! But in 3 words what am I, I’m caring, personable and a fond person to be around.

Before joining the BBC, what were you doing before that?

We have been part of the BBC for 8 years now. Before that, I was working in the city in London. I was an HR consultant I was doing that for a number of years. When I was doing The Family Show myself and Sunny were keen to do something else other than the jobs we were in at the time. Doing radio and what we are doing now is something we have always wanted to do. It was just trying to find the right way of doing it. We were doing a lot of behind the scenes work that a lot of people don’t know about. Going to interviews for absolutely free. Going to red carpets events standing in the freezing cold for 2/3 hours to do a 5-minute interview. Those were the things we had to do. We had to put in the hard work and have the commitment to get to where we are now.

 

A lot of people class you as a role model and inspiration. I believe you are especially in the Asian community. But who is yours?

Well, firstly I don’t know why people would think that. I really appreciate the kind comments. I have never looked at myself like that before. You started off asking me who is Shay and I stated I was a woman first. If I was to think about role models and people who I look up to in life or have influenced me, to be honest, it has to be women in my life. I have seen how they have gone against the norms, and I have seen how they have stood up against society’s expectation. They have always done what is right with their families. The role model and inspiration firstly has to be my mum. My mum really brought me up to be independent and as an Asian she wanted me to know that I’m equal or even better than men. My mum never let me feel I couldn’t achieve what I wanted too. If I said I wanted to do something she has always supported me. My dad did also as well. I was my dad’s little princess. But, there was something about my mother doing it that in a very male-dominated world and work environment. That really inspired me. Even though I and my mum don’t talk today, she has always been the basis and foundation of my inspiration. I look at someone like Sunny’s mum my mother in law. I think she is another great inspiration. The way she has kept her family together and she has been a rock in her family. I’ve always really liked that. I have thought to myself now I’m going to become a mum and I will hopefully like to have that, the foundation and have that ability to keep my family together. I think that is a beautiful thing. 

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Shay’s role models are very much in her family.

In terms of looking at big names you know like celebrities but growing up I mean I don’t know about you but as a British Asian there wasn’t many people I could look up too. I wasn’t someone who looked at Bollywood and aspired to be that way. Or even Hollywood. I have a lot of musical influences. Such as Prince, Beatles and The Police (my fave growing up too) I like that kind of stuff. I wouldn’t say they are inspirations as such. I have always drawn from my personal experiences or relationships as role models. My mum, Sunny’s mum, my Sister In Law they are more inspirations to me that of famous people as unfortunately there was no one in there i could relate too. 

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Shay and Kaki. Shay’s Sister In Law

Doing The family Show, did you realise or thought in your mind you would become so popular and relatable?

No! When we agreed to do the show, our biggest concern and really really worried about the aftermath. As a family, we were very strong. But we thought we are comfortable with who we are and how we live our lives. But obviously with my personal situation, Sunny, and Sunny’s mum and dad were worried that we would get judged and looked down upon. As you know unfortunately with our community these are taboo subjects. We were more worried we never actually thought that people would be so open and welcoming. We had people not just in this country but people from Dubai, South Africa, Australia from different walks of life. Even from different communities, not even Asian. They were getting in touch saying they can relate to us. The fact of the matter is when you have a family dispute like for me it was my mum who didn’t agree with my relationship. It was a simple as that. She didn’t want me to get married to Sunny. There was no lea-way in regards to this.  I think other people can relate to that. You don’t have to be Asian to go through that. That’s what I learnt whilst doing The Family, how many other people go through that. Sometimes parents and children don’t get on. It can be for different reasons. It doesn’t have to be that you have fallen in love, someone. You may not see eye to eye. So if I’m very honest with you whilst doing The Family I did not think, I thought the opposite that I was going to get the backlash. People might not understand what I’m going through. That they would completely judge me. But it was so heartwarming and such a beautiful thing the love we received over the years. I mean in November it will be 8 years since The Family. 

 

How did The Family Show happen?

The Family came about as we were approached by Channel 4 production team as they were looking for an Asian family for over year. They had interviewed a lot of people. They basically bumped into Sunny and I at the theatre. It was Sunny’s brother in law who was doing a theatre production. Sunny and I were there to make sure that our friends had tickets to go to the show. There was a short break before the production started. The production team came up to Sunny and stated we are looking for an Asian family. Sunny turned around and said I know lots of people but the thing is  I’m really busy as I’m getting married and I won’t have time to talk to you. So can Shay just email you some numbers and you can then call them. Then as soon as the producer said that the producer said “Hold on you are getting married” I want to know more about you. You are getting married he was really interested in us. You seem like an entertaining family in terms of what you do. It then started from there.

 

You have your own show with the BBC, How did this happen?

We now work for the BBC WM and BBC London. We are radio presenters on both stations. When we were doing The Family, Sunny and I have always wanted to go into radio. Sunny actually used to run an RLC years before we ever did The family. Radio has always been a passion. We started off basically with BBC London. We started off by doing interviews with them. They used to really like our interaction as husband and wife. There was a presenter there that goes by the name Jo Good. To be honest with you Jo encouraged Sunny and I to come on radio shows she thought we were really funny. She loved what she saw on TV. Jo felt there was something we could do with the radio. What we didn’t know was she asked us to come on her show to talk about a new story or whether it was to review a film. Or a theatre play. Jo was getting the bosses to listen. The bosses were loving what we were doing. Sunny and I did a red carpet premiere for Salt with Angelina Jolie. I managed to get an exclusive interview with her. Talking about the Pakistan earthquake. That made the news and that set us to show we can do the journalistic stuff that was needed and the interviewing. There was a lot of 10 minutes on the air here and there. We didn’t just get to where we are now we put a lot of hard work into it. 8 years on we are on both BBC WM and BBC London which is great.

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I work as a volunteer with the amazing Sharan Project. But you are an Ambassador’s. How did that happen? 

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Sunny and Shay with the Founder of The Sharan Project Polly Harrar

Yes that’s right. At the beginning you asked who was i as a person. I was talking about how i am a woman first, something i am proud of. I sometimes feel women don’t support each other enough. Anything to do with women’s causes or women’s charities this is very close to Sunny and I. It was around 5 years ago, Sunny and I were invited to The Sharan Project they had an event and we went along. I just thought the work they do is just amazing and powerful. From that minute we started to support them in what they do. We was asked to become Ambassadors. As our role as Ambassadors we try and promote the charity work they do. They help victims of Forced Marriages and Honour based Violence also physical abuse. The help both men and women mainly from the Asian background but also non Asian background who may had to leave home due to their personal situation. It could be anything. That charity for me has grown over the last couple of years. We are so happy to support the work they do. 

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Very powerful message! The Sharan Project Ambassadors

You have also worked with Brit Asia on a few projects. One of my favourites was “The Social Experiment” Where 4 people who have never met discuss topics mainly taboo ones. Whose idea was that?

That was a collaborative idea actually. It was a really fun idea we had we were lucky to do it with Brit Asia. It was a team effort. Sunny and I and Brit Asia came up with it. We were lucky to get different people from different communities, ages and walks of lives. To see what people really think. We live in a world now where we look at what politically is happening such as Brexit there is a lot of animosities as well. Even Islamophobia. Hate crime is on the rise. All the topics are on the news. But you don’t see how it affects a person day to day. Even with a work colleague how do people really feel about it? It may be a news headline but how do we feel about it behind closed doors. That’s why we wanted to do something like that. The Social Experiment was to put 4 people in a room who are from different backgrounds to see what they think about these issues. It could be anything. Will they say it especially when you are blindfolded you don’t know who the person is and we couldn’t hide the gender but we did with everything else. They won’t anything till they tell you. There were no names also. It was a really good idea. 

 

Which one topic stood out for you?

One topic that stood out as we did one on eating Halal and non Halal meat. The reason that stood out for me was it was in the media at the time, where particular restaurants were putting Halal on their menu’s and people weren’t aware of it. It was really interesting to hear people’s perspective’s on the topic. One didn’t know what Halal meat was. Some weren’t bothered. Others were really offended. Also, people who ate Halal and how they felt. I’m a vegetarian so it doesn’t affect me and doesn’t make a difference. The other one was Terrorism and that has stayed with me. It was quite shocking to have one guest who wasn’t Asian but their perception of where they see Asian men and what they felt and how uncomfortable they felt. They admitted on the show they felt that way due to the media and what they see in the News. I was very disappointed about the stereotypes portrayed in the news as she felt she couldn’t approach an Asian due to how she felt and what she saw on the news. That was really powerful for me and that one will stay with me. It was a show where we got people talking to say we are all human beings at the end of the day. We all like to see our friends. These terrorist attacks that happen in my opinion are people who are not human. It’s a shame to put everyone under that bracket. 

Find the rest on YouTube very interesting debates!

 

If you could interview anyone who would it be and why?

That’s a good question! There is a few people actually. I would love to had interview Prince. Prince would be a great one as I’m a huge fan of music. I would like to ask him the fact how many instruments he played and how musically he was. Right to writing his lyrics and concerts. Also currently someone who is alive would be Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May. I think we live in politically charged times in 10-20 years time our children and their children’s children will be talking about the EU Referendum and they will be living with the consequences of that. It would be very interesting to talk to them about their perspectives. Film wise i have been lucky i had a chance to interview Bradley Cooper and Angelina Jolie. 

 

You recently won Asian Women Of Achievement Award. Was you shocked by that?

Yes I was. It was hand on my heart a honour to be nominated with all those women. I walked in there not in any way shape or form expecting to win. I did not think I would win. I didn’t think I was worthy enough to win. I have to thank the judges who felt like I did deserve it. To be nominated with women who are leading from their field whether it was Media Business or the Public Sector. It was an amazing feeling. AWA is very important it recognises and shows the world and country that women can achieve and we do it well. Especially Asian women, are on par with everyone else. In my acceptance speech i said that there is no ceiling that women can’t shatter. I really do believe that. I have been surrounded women in this Industry who have done it. I was shocked but humble to have won.

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Have you ever had any negativity from people whether it is social media or face to face as you are vocal and you get your opinions across?

Yes I have. Over the years definitely. Most of what I do with my public profile is with Sunny. Sometimes people will bunch us together. Even though we are husband and wife and presenters. We have very different opinions. Sometimes people will criticise and say I am to vocal on women’s rights. Or Sunny was too overpowering and I have taken it on the chin. If you don’t listen to our show or watch us interact or see us on social media and then you won’t know who we are. They judge on one post or something or an event that we have done. I learnt over the years that you shouldn’t take it to heart. I just kind off brush it off. When we did The Family we got some negativity. For one negative comment we got a lot more positive. It outweighed it for me. Everyone has their opinions. I respect that and I try not to let it get to me. 

 

What’s your biggest achievement?

Oh wow biggest achievement has to be definitely that Sunny and I work on 2 of the biggest radio stations in the country. Also as British Asian presenters,  as husband and wife also. But i can’t ignore the fact we are Asian and it is a huge huge achievement. We live in a world where we constantly talking about Ethnic diversity is so important. But it isn’t reflected in the Media as it should be If you listen to our radio shows it doesn’t matter your background is and where your from you can relate to it. It’s husband and wife having fun in the afternoon. We are very different. We can do the radio shows the way we want to do. I’m proud of that.

 

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What’s next for Shay?

Well as you know I am having a baby! So think this will be a new chapter in my life. The last couple of months I haven’t really posted much on social media as I’m coming to terms with getting pregnant and becoming a mum. I had a lot of messages on social media asking me if everything is okay. We haven’t heard from you and you haven’t posted. But when the baby is born I will talk about experiences and journey. It will be nice. I will definitely do that. The next important thing is as a woman is what I’m going through. I will try and be the best I can being a mum and I will share that. We heard in the Media that Kate Middleton is pregnant. She was suffering from chronic sickness like what i’m going through. 1 in 100 women suffer from it and not many women talk about that. People think you get pregnant and have a baby and that’s it. Actually what I have learnt in 8 months that women don’t talk about what they go through whilst you are pregnant. I try and talk to women about their experiences. For 2018 for Sunny and Shay we want to continue our work on radio and building up the hard work we have achieved and done more TV. Watch this space!!

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Myself and Shay

Shay Is truly lovely and a down to earth person. One thing is for sure she will make a fantastic mother. Even when I was preparing for the interview and waiting for her. Shay made me feel comfortable trying to feed me M&M’s haha. But honestly it was a great experience. I used to work as a volunteer many many years at the BBC but when it was based at Pebble Mill studio’s and while Network East was still around. So it brought back memories being in studio again. 

Shay is a fantastic role model and she is honest which is very rare these days. Shay wants to help people and help them succeed. What I loved about Shay that she is a normal person who is trying to make a difference in this world. But also Sunny was just as lovely and made me laugh so much. I know she is destined for a bright and fantastic future. I really hope we can work together in the future!!

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