Interview with my Neighbour, Zahrah Robinson
This is the part where I am supposed to tell you a bit about Zahrah Robinson and why I chose to interview her. Well, I’ll get to that in a second. Firstly, please don’t make the same mistake I made. Confession Time – I have, for the longest time, been pronouncing my neighbour’s name wrong. All along I have been calling her “Zara” where the correct pronunciation is “Z- [AGH, like 8 in Afrikaans]- RAH”.
Now that I have that out of the way, Let’s find out more about Zahrah Robinson. This woman is a real go-getter, juggling many roles and excelling at them in every aspect. While most of us are just waking up from our night slumber, Zahrah has already fed the cats, had her morning gym session and reviewed several African Film submissions. She has worked on radio, TV and now she’s taking on Film industry, there’s just no stopping this modern Wonder Woman.
Don’t let pain make you hate and don’t let bitterness steal your sweetness.
If you could describe yourself in one word what would it be?
When did you decide to take up a career in the entertainment industry and what was your motivation?
I actually was always involved with performing. During my schooling career, I done everything from debate to drama and I guess the passion stayed with me. I initially wanted to pursue a career in drama and acting, but because I come from a traditional Muslim family, this wasn’t seen as a viable career option. I then journeyed into law because I figured I could perform in the courtroom but during my second year realised that this was not what I wanted to do. Without wanting to disappoint my parents, I continued my law studies but dedicated my extra time to volunteering at radio stations and that’s how I got my foot in the door.
What does a typical day in the life of Zahrah consist of?
I recently ventured into a new role as the Market Manager for the Cape Town International Film Festival so that has become my main focus. I wake up 4:45 AM, am at gym by 6 am and at work, where I am currently reviewing all our submissions and getting into the finer details of managing the market space as the festival draws closer. In between this, I sometimes am shooting for An NUR, The Light and doing voice over work as well. At times it feels like I have a million things going on but when I do get down time, I am either reading, spending time with my cats, or spending some quality time with my husband and family.
You’ve had stints on Radio and TV, which is your preferred medium and why?
While I love television and the opportunities that have come with it, radio is where I got my start and so I guess that will always be my first love. I think I just love how I am able to craft pictures and stories in the minds of people I don’t know and how those stories and pictures will be unique to each of them. I am in talks to be on a station soon again so watch this space!
Being your neighbour, I know how much you love cats, care to tell us about your babies?
Lol, can I firstly thank you for looking after them whenever we’re away? I think that they think you’re family now. I have 3 cats: Tesla is the oldest and she’s this fat, lovable cat who is scared of everything (even loud noises) but still lets the other two know she’s boss. Tokio is the male and definitely the protector. He’s not as affectionate as the others and won’t hesitate to graze you when he’s had enough playing. Tex is the latest addition and the cutest thing but a terror – always chasing the other two around and just last night she was on our wall and didn’t know how to come down so I had to rescue her, in my gown and all! Happy none of my neighbours had to witness that, including you!
You recently joined “An NUR, The Light” as a presenter on the show, how has that been going?
The show has been going well. Initially I had to adjust because people draw their own conclusions of who you are, especially when you’re related to something religious. I struggled with it at first but luckily, I have a great support system that reminds me of who I am and where I’ve come and that as long as I know what I’m doing and am happy then that’s all that matters.
As a Muslim presenter, how important is religion when it comes to deciding on which projects you work on?
I take this very seriously because Muslims are still a minority in entertainment so I think I should be a good reflection of what my religion is about. I won’t meet everyone’s idea of what that is but work is work and while I have to attend non-Muslim events, I remain a practicing Muslim who puts my religion first.
Name your all-time favourite TV Series and what are you currently binge watching?
The Handmaids Tale for sure! I am not binge watching anything right now because I have all these African films I need to assess but after the festival, I will for sure binge on Keeping Up with The Kardashians (don’t judge)!
Any advice for those aspiring to work in the entertainment industry?
Humility and respect are key. I’ve worked with people who have been in the industry for a few weeks and already there’s an ego. You’ll go much further if you’re humble, respectful and show people what you’re about rather than telling them. Also, the people you need to impress are not necessarily the ones in front of the camera, but rather the ones behind it.
What is your dream local and international holiday destination?
I recently read an article about Victoria Bay so that’s at the top of my local travel list. Internationally, it would be Turkey.
What is your message of encouragement for all Women this Women’s Month?
My advice for all women, and not only during Women’s Month, would be to support one another and be proud of who we are. I think with all the pressure and judgement we go through, we forget to be soft. Don’t let pain make you hate and don’t let bitterness steal your sweetness.
Want to follow her journey, then head on over to Instagram @zahrah___