Actor, model, DJ, content creator, mother, Hira Tareen sure is one of the most multitalented artists of our entertainment industry. Over the years with sheer hard work, dedication and professionalism, she has become a household name across Pakistan. Her recently launched YouTube channel displays her outstanding production and content creation skills and she has already become a favourite amongst the youth of Pakistan. Hira tells Sana Zehra about her DJ-ing, acting with veteran actors, YouTube channel and clothing brand
Youâ€™re considered one of the most versatile media personalities of the local entertainment industry, what motivates you and keeps you going?
We only have one life to explore all the beautiful things around us. Iâ€™ve always had a natural drive to dabble in all forms of creative expression. I donâ€™t always wake up wanting to do the same thing as the day before, but I am always pushing the envelope to do what inspires me.
How did you enter the DJ-ing business? And how does it feel to be the first female DJ of Pakistan?
Music was something that I had a natural flair for as a child, especially percussions, which I picked up at the age of 10. In my university days in Dallas, I met and became friends with a lot of budding DJs who spoke about spinning vinyls and turntables. I soon had a realization that DJ-ing is the one thing that unifies my love for music and mixing, matching beats and performing in front of large crowds was second nature for me.
I made some demo tapes and was offered to spin at some of the top venues in Dallas as a headlining DJ.
I donâ€™t think itâ€™s possible that Iâ€™m the â€œfirstâ€ female DJ of Pakistan. Maybe just the first that came in the limelight because I took it up professionally and did a lot of mainstream gigs. I am not too keen on being known as a â€œfemale DJâ€ and certainly not the â€œfirst female DJ.â€ Gender should never be the defining factor of talent or your claim to fame. I rather people just know that I am a good DJ.
Has motherhood changed you? Tell us about this new venture and your daughter Mahgul.
Becoming a mother has taught me so many things and has definitely changed me for the better. Being a parent gives you perspective and most importantly gives you a solid purpose in life.
I remember I used to be a worrier. I would always worry about what will happen next or what if things donâ€™t work out. Now that I have her (Mahgul) in my life, I know that nothing is more important than her, in fact, everything else comes second.
Youâ€™ve also made a name for yourself in the acting business. Tell us about some of your most memorable roles and the journey so far.
I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that I have had to work in some great projects and with such amazing people that I have learned so much from. I got discovered and a landed a role in my first ever drama serial which was shot in Austin, TX when I was 15 while giving cues to my brother who was auditioning for a role.
On my visit to Pakistan in 2001, I got a role in the first ever sitcom of Geo TV directed by Nadeem Baig called Duniya Hai Dilwalon Ki and fast forward to a few years I got a chance to work with him again when I landed a great role in a hit project called Manjali. It was surreal finding myself on set with legends like Faisal Rehman (in Mahe Thamam), Usman Peerzada (in Goya), Saba Hamid (Manjali), Adnan Siddiqui (Maher Bano Shah Bano), Aisha Khan (Khuda Mera Bhi Hai), and the list goes on. Every role has been memorable for me because of how different and complex each character that I have played has been. However, the characters that I have really enjoyed portraying so far have been Zara from Goya, Sumbul from Tum Kon Piya, Kashmala from Khuda Mera Bhi Hai and most recent Sajal from Zard Zamano Ka Savera.
Why did you decide to launch your own YouTube channel?
In the past few years, I noticed the enormous amounts of messages from my followers wanting to know how I do certain things, what products I use, where I buy things from and generally wanting tips from me. Plus, I feel being in involved in so many different enterprises (such as TV, fashion, visual design, music, etc.) as well as all the experiences and skills Iâ€™ve gathered throughout the years of growing up and working in the US.. and then moving to Pakistan really gives me a unique perspective on things.
Traditional media portrays me in a certain way because you usually see me either in TV dramas playing a character or in fashion weeks modeling, or as a guest on a talk show, which is geared towards a different kind of narrative.
Having my own YouTube channel gives me an opportunity to not only share the real me but also give my fans tailor made content that they want to see.
I truly believe that the future is about more interactive and digital content, as people want greater control over what they would like to see.
I donâ€™t think this takes away from my passion for acting on traditional mediums, like film or television, but I guess you can look at my YouTube channel as a medium that compliments and unifies my entire body of work.
Do you have a team dedicated for your online channel?
My background in art direction, graphics and visual design from the U.S. really gave me an upper hand in being able to launch a channel by myself. However, now as the channel is growing I am engaging talented people and developing a team that helps me formulate ideas for my video and also streamline things in order for me to sustain it.
Youâ€™re also the brain behind the successful clothing brand ICON, what should your fans expect from the brand in the coming months?
I had to take a small break from ICON during and after my pregnancy, which really gave me an opportunity to rethink and strategize how I want to take the brand forward. In the coming few months, my customers should expect a fully functional website that allows them to shop online as well as a new collection that really reflects the true spirit and essence of what I envisioned the identity of ICON to be when I started the brand.
Hira Tareen has become a full fledged brand. How long did it take you to establish yourself as a mainstream media personality of Pakistan?
I think itâ€™s important to be comfortable with your uniqueness, be aware of your strengths and your weaknesses, know your values in what you will do or wonâ€™t do and most of all share your knowledge and give back. If you are consistent and disciplined, all these elements eventually help define your brand persona.
Establishing myself as a mainstream media personality was not easy considering I wasnâ€™t related to anyone super famous or part of any clique or group that was pushing me forward. But itâ€™s also not impossible if you stay true to your value system and know your worth.
Would you like to send a message to your fans?
I think itâ€™s important for all my fans to know that all the celebrities they look up to and admire are all normal people just like them. We all have our days when we feel insecure, unattractive, lost, and feel that things arenâ€™t working out despite of how perfect you might think our lives are.
These days there are a lot of people finally coming out and talking about anxiety and depression, which is very important. I feel that everyone reading this should know that itâ€™s okay to feel that way as long as you know that tomorrow is a new day and feelings are not permanent.
Try not to idealize other people and focus on being yourself, find your values and whatâ€™s significant to your life and donâ€™t let any image dictate what your norm should be.
Photography by Zara Tareen