Naz Sohni Uppal

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 37

Job Title: Radio Personality/Producer, World FM 101.7 and OMNI Television

Why She’s Top 40: For creating forums where Edmontonians can discuss south Asian culture, and encouraging Muslim teens to take to the stage.

Guilty Pleasure: “I am obsessed with movies. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Bollywood or Hollywood. I also watch reality TV programs, especially Shahs of Sunset, which is about Persian Americans living in California.”

Earlier this year on Naz at Night, a south Asian cultural affairs program that runs on Edmonton multicultural station World FM, host Naz Sohni Uppal was interviewing local filmmaker Shreela Chakrabartty on the release of her first full-length feature, Rock Paper Dice Enter. Then the phone calls of support from well-wishers came flooding in.

“We get that a lot whenever I interview someone who’s doing really well in the community,” says Uppal, who panels the program.

You can hear almost anything that comes to mind concerning south Asian culture on Naz at Night – except any sobering hard news from the region. And that’s the way Uppal, a Punjabi-Pakistani, wants to keep it.

“I only focus on the beauty of our culture,” says Uppal, who also contributes to OMNI Television’s Culture Avenue and writes for Canadian-based south Asian cultural publication, Suhaag Magazine. “When I tell stories, I only want to show the positive aspects of everything. Thankfully, I have not had to deal with negativity in anything I’ve done.”

And she’s done quite a lot, whether it be volunteering for the Pakistani pavilion at Heritage Days (which landed her a CTV Heritage Hero award in August), supporting the efforts of the Pakistan Canada Association of Edmonton, or – one of her biggest joys – setting up a drama club for Muslim and Pakistani teens.

“They may not have chosen drama in school because they were a lot quieter than the other students. They came to my drama club and getting them to act and moving them out of their comfort zones made my day.”

While her community recognizes her as a high-profile mover and shaker, Uppal believes the humility and pride instilled by her upbringing and her peers keeps her grounded.

“I believe I live a very honest life,” she says. “I pray and am very happy with the outcome of my life right now. I’m very humble and give thanks to everything that’s happened.”

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