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Few of us are lucky enough to know exactly what we're meant to do with our lives but for Rasha Goel her calling was unmistakable. “I joke that I must have been born with a microphone in my hand because I’ve just always enjoyed being on stage and engaging with people.”
That desire to connect with others led her into the ultra competitive world of entertainment journalism, one of the toughest industries to break into, especially as a woman of color. Read on to find out how Goel forged her own path to become the go-to South Asian journalist covering both Bollywood and Hollywood's biggest red carpet events.
What did you want to do growing up?
At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a storyteller. I loved being in front of the camera. When I was seven years old, we had to do a history project on Martin Luther King Jr. and my project was a newscast. I had my mom film me as an anchor at a news desk, so it looked like a real newscast. I had her record it over and over until we had it perfect. I already knew that I wanted to tell stories through the media. I don’t think my parents had any idea that I would eventually go into broadcast journalism, but I already knew.
Did your parents support your dream?
I’m going to say yes and no. Raised in a typical South Asian household, I was encouraged to be a bio major and I did that for the first year of college. And then one day, I was in a zoology class and I realized I can’t do this. While being a bio major, I was participating in theater, fashion shows, and beauty pageants. So, my love for being on stage was still present. I decided to become a communication studies major because that’s what I was born to do.
I think my parents kept thinking with communication studies, maybe there’s an opportunity for management or other corporate positions. I'm the first person in our family to pursue a career in the entertainment industry so there was that fear of how is she going to support herself? I know it comes from a place of love. Even now, my father tells me it’s not too late to consider a career change. This is two Emmy nominations later!
Did the fact that there were no other South Asian journalists in your field deter you?
It actually inspired me that there weren’t many South Asian entertainment journalists, especially females. I wanted to be that person who helped pave the way for other young South Asians to come forward in this industry. I’m not saying that I didn’t have doubts because I absolutely did. In fact, my first job out of college was not in journalism. I took a job with Sony Pictures in their marketing department and I was miserable. I would be at my desk during lunch, before work and after work, searching for hosting and journalism related work. Eventually, I was able to segue into a newsroom and then create my own independent opportunities. At that time, I wasn't one hundred percent sure I knew what I was stepping into — I was taking a leap of faith.
How did you break into the industry?
I began by interning in the KTLA newsroom and at the same time was looking at trade magazines, websites, and other sources to find out what type of journalism jobs were out there. There were limited opportunities. The one thing I feel that worked in my favor is being South Asian.
I started at a time when Zee TV (one of the largest Indian television networks) was opening a branch in the United States. I knew I wanted to be a part of their team and could provide them entertainment news from Los Angeles. After some hustle, the next thing I knew I was their entertainment correspondent and covering Bollywood in Hollywood and vice versa.
Slowly, I began navigating my way as I started meeting people, and building relationships. Before I knew it, my name somehow got spread in India, which was wonderful. I had the opportunity to be the American Indian liaison and I was then covering all the entertainment press junkets for Sony India, Warner Brothers, Disney, and Fox. I became the go-to gal here in Hollywood. A lot of it was hustling and stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel, sometimes, as South Asians, we are not encouraged to do that and are taught to play it safe.
Last year, I was the first South Asian woman to be live on the red carpet at the Golden Globes for Dick Clark Productions. I had a blast being on that carpet and working with that team; they were incredible! To be a woman of color out on that carpet, doing what I love, and represent South Asian Americans, gave me a lot of pride.
We sometimes don't give ourselves enough credit or believe in our talent and the work that we’ve done. So, it was that feeling of I've worked hard, and I deserve to be here.
Last year, I was the first South Asian woman to be live on the red carpet at the Golden Globes for Dick Clark Productions. To be a woman of color out on that carpet, doing what I love, and represent South Asian Americans, gave me a lot of pride.
What are some of the challenges you've had navigating this career path?
The day you decide that you want to work in the entertainment industry, you have to know that you are choosing to work in one of the most competitive industries. I had to get used to hearing a lot of “no’s” and still be confident that there would be a “yes.” You can’t give up. You have to trust YOUR talent and soul calling. The biggest thing I had to learn was to believe in myself, trust who I am, and know that I’ve been given this gift to share. I had to let go of the self doubt. No one can do that for you!
You’ve talked before about how hard it is to break into mainstream entertainment reporting especially as a person of color. Can you tell us more about that?
When it comes to entertainment journalism, that niche is already so small that I think there is a lack of awareness of the growing South Asian community. Let’s just look at some of the top shows on television. How many Asians and South Asians are you seeing as entertainment journalists? Very few. The term “diversity” sounds so cliché, but if there’s one thing I could change about the industry, it’s to recognize how big the market is and how crucial diversity really is. I think conversations are happening but they have to also be open to actually bringing in more diverse people in executive positions. People of color need to be in those gate keeper positions to create change.
Is there something you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
I would love to do a talk show. I love having open conversations and discussions about different topics. My goal for those conversations is to help empower and inspire people. Even now, when I do celebrity interviews, I always try to ask a question or two that could help empower the audience, because everybody is going through struggles and triumphs. If through conversation, I can help make a difference in someone’s life, then I’ve done my job!
Images courtesy of: Rasha Goel