“I always seek to show the world what my culture means and what Indian dance is beyond the stereotypes we always see in the media. That’s the reason I do what I do.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Shereen Ladha, director of the popular YouTube channel ‘dancewithSL.’ Shereen was selected by YouTube/Google as one of Canada’s Top 15 up & coming YouTube channels, by FLARE Magazine as one of Canada’s Top 100 women with cool jobs, by the CBC as one of Canada’s top female artists, and profiled by BuzzFeed, the Globe and Mail, and many more!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I started dancing when I was 4 years old — training in ballet, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, and classical Indian styles (Bharatnatyam and Kathak). I did movies, TV shows, commercials, and was a finalist on Canada’s Got Talent. I decided to take my choreography to YouTube in 2015 and produced several viral videos including a Bollywood cover to Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’ (called ‘Maafi’) which got the attention of several media outlets.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
I work a 9–5 in brand strategy at an advertising agency in Toronto, and dance is my second full time job — my 5–9 (and weekends). I was at a point where I was questioning if I could balance both parts in my life. One day, I found myself working late on a deadline but had a video shoot that evening. I worked like CRAZY to finish everything and jetted off to a 3 hour shoot. I was stressed and exhausted both physically and mentally. That video ended up going viral and featured on CTV, BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, CBC, and everywhere in between. Suffice to say, I think I proved to myself that I could do it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I always seek to show the world what my culture means and what Indian dance is beyond the stereotypes we always see in the media. That’s the reason I do what I do.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
Do it because you absolutely love it and couldn’t imagine your life without it. That’s the kind of passion and drive that will enable a hustle and work ethic that you didn’t know you had in you.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
My parents. They’ve supported me from the beginning and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them. They’re the kind of parents that message me to make sure I’m producing videos and then will so unapologetically share my work with everyone they know!
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
I just returned from Lisbon, Portugal where I worked on the Jubilee Arts International Festival mentoring the dancers who were showcasing, and also did six surprise performances in huge arena shows for audiences of 15,000 people per night! In September I’ll be going on tour with a music/dance production called ‘RIHLA’ across Canada. Of course, I’m also producing a lot for my YouTube channel and teaching classes in Toronto, LA, and New York.
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Stay true to your brand — take the brand deals that you believe in and that your audience would actually be interested in. Authenticity goes a long way.
- Seek out the local businesses that would benefit from some product placement — it’s not always about the big brands
- Look for options outside of content production — some brands or businesses may benefit from stories or links in your content, not solely through your regular posts
- Think of your social media platforms as a way to gain popularity, especially if you’re an artist. This will lead to real money making opportunities like live performance/exhibits
- Don’t underestimate AdSense — although the bulk of your revenue may come from brand deals, AdSense is still a great way to earn a portion of your total revenue
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
I would love to have a chat with Anjula Acharia — she’s just a badass South Asian woman and investor at the top of her game. I’d love to have her eyes on my business!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Youtube — www.youtube.com/dancewithSL
Instagram — www.instagram.com/shereenladha
Facebook — www.facebook.com/dancewithSL
Originally published at medium.com