We had the good fortune of connecting with Anya Ahuja and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anya, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
* Although I am a Dallas girl through and through as I was born just down the street from my home here in Dallas, my Indian heritage is a huge and cherished part of my identity and living in Dallas has only amplified my connection to it. From early on, it has been instilled in me to respect and identify with my Indian roots. With consistent trips to India starting when I was just a few months old, I developed a deep love for India and a desire to learn as much about my heritage as I could. The vibrant reds, blues, greens of the clothing and food carts around me, the noise of bartering and rickshaws and music, and the sheer life pulsing all around me were mesmerizing. Everything intrigued me when walking down the busy streets of Ahmedabad, a city in India where my grandparents live. The traffic of India became music to my ears. Going on these trips made me appreciate the little things that made each place distinct. I began to look at the world around me with fresh eyes and appreciate the positivity in everything, even the mundane. The cultural diversities and economic variances seen in India became a symbol of life and vitality and taught me to embrace the beauty of contrasts. I realized that even when I returned from the intensity of India to the serenity of my neighborhood in Dallas, I learned to celebrate the differences, making my life more resilient and enriched. These trips to India also amplified the importance of family and community in my life. Just as in India and other Eastern cultures is it normal to have joint families and multiple generations living under the same roof, I have learned to prioritize my relationships living here in my Dallas hometown. Whether it’s calling my extended family in India and elsewhere living in the world every week or making the time to meet with my local friends and family regularly, building and maintaining a strong support system has become something of utmost importance to me. Overall, I believe every part of me has been touched or altered by my Indian heritage in some way. I’m a true Dallas girl with heart full of Indian spice!

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a teen radio host and Emcee, and I’m the youngest radio host in Texas and youngest Indo-American radio jockey in U.S. who has a weekly show in FM/AM station starting at age 11. My art lies in the crossroads of music and story-telling, of communication and people.  My career as a radio host has undoubtedly helped shape me into the person I am today. Even though the main theme of my weekly radio show that I’ve been doing for over 6 years is using my voice to amplify the stories of others, I didn’t know how to highlight my own voice much less the voices and stories of others. Much of this comes from my first public speaking opportunity, my little sister’s eulogy. After that experience, public speaking held far too much trauma for me to even consider it as a passion. Yet when the opportunity of hosting on Radio came about, it ignited the fire to do my best within me. Maybe it might have started from a point of personal grief and later my drive to overcome the grief. But soon I began to foster a love for communication. The process of brainstorming topics for my show and writing my 2-hour scripts coaxed me out of my shell, allowing me to talk about whatever I want to with little to no judgment. There were no judging glares, no camera, no grieving faces looking on at me…just the microphone and me in the studio room, comforting me and convincing me that what I was saying mattered.  Once I felt confident in developing good content, I began inviting other youth onto my show to spread their stories and achievements. Using my own experiences, I could now coax others out of their shells with carefully crafted interview questions and conversations…strengthening their voices as much as I was strengthening mine. What started as conversations with just local kids blossomed into interviews with international talent with famous Bollywood actors, entrepreneurs, authors, lawyers, non-profits, and more coming on onto my show to provide my listeners with various types of inspiration and morals from all walks of life. The increased confidence, communication skills, discipline, creativity, and connections I have received from my experience as a radio host are invaluable to me, and I am so excited to see how my career will shift and develop in the years to come.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
* I absolutely adore the Dallas area and not just because I was born and brought up here. The balance between the vibrant city and calm, family-oriented neighborhoods provides the perfect backdrop for a week-long trip to remember. I would definitely make sure to take my friend to all of my favorite food spots because there is a restaurant for everyone in Dallas! For coffee(matcha for me) and a bite to eat, I’d venture to La La Land or 1418 Coffee in Downtown Plano (also great for a calming study sesh!). For a gorgeous fine-dining experience, the delectable, high-end Indian cuisine at Sanjh in Irving and the breathtaking RH Rooftop Restaurant on Knox Street never fail to impress. Besides food, I would also take them to the Fowling Warehouse in Plano so they can be just as shocked as I was that trying to bowl with footballs is 1000x harder than actual bowling! Sixes Social at Grandscapes is perfect for all cricket fans looking to kick back, relax, and play some high-tech and fun cricket! I have a soft spot for Stonebriar mall and Legacy West for being the ultimate high school and middle school hang-out places, so visiting it is a must! Also, I wouldn’t forget to take my friend to the Dallas Arboretum or Fort Worth Zoo, AT&T Performing Arts Center, House of Blues, or Legacy Hall (where you can also try 20+ new and trendy restaurants) to catch an artist on tour and a music performance of a lifetime. Dallas has a vast array of exciting experiences to offer, but a trip to Dallas with me would not be complete without visiting my aunt to try her lasagna (my personal favorite) and partake in some karaoke (the more dramatic the performance, the better)!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
* I am a huge believer in having a strong support system as I talked about earlier, and I love that Shoutout DFW takes the time to highlight the importance of others in one’s story! My journey as a radio host and just as a person has been marked by the support, mentorship and kindness of an infinite amount of people along the way. Whether it’s the boss of my first radio station, Shabnam Modgil, the former CEO of Radio Caravan who believed in my potential and gave me the opportunity to host my own radio show at the young age of 11,  or my parents, close friends and extended family who never failed to show me an infinite amount of love and unwavering support in every facet of my life. There are many people I could talk about with this question. But a group that not only encompasses most of these people but that has had an incomparable influence on my career is the Dallas South Asian Community. My life has been marked by their kindness and compassion long before I became a radio host. I have always been struck by the warmth of the community at the various Diwali events, birthday parties, weddings, and countless cultural and community events. It was in these events that I made lifelong friendships, garnered opportunities, and realized truly what the saying “it takes a village” meant. Years later, when venturing into my career, I again leaned on those connections, friendships and opportunities I had been developing throughout my childhood. The Dallas South Asian Community was willing to take a bet on a new, young person and welcomed me into their shows, non-profit events, fashion galas, academic competitions, and even into their homes. And as I started improving my radio skills, this group of tight-knit South Asian adults encouraged me to do more and gave me challenging opportunities like Emceeing first in smaller gathering than on larger platforms. As I improved my emceeing, they encouraged me to be a social media content creator. Soon when I became a known radio host, they challenged me to try pageantry. All the advances I’ve taken in my career have been guided and demanded by this community, and I will be forever grateful.

Website: www.RJAnyaahuja.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rjanyaahuja?igsh=bnN2eHRkdHpleTlu

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anya-ahuja-260a83291?utm_source=share&utm_campaign=share_via&utm_content=profile&utm_medium=ios_app

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anya.ahuja.33?mibextid=LQQJ4d

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@RJAnyaAhuja

Other: Podcast – https://www.spreaker.com/show/youth-spotlight-with-anya

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