Yalda Hakim stunned the room this morning with a harrowing tale of what she’s seen as a correspondent and reporter for the BBC.
Talking about the hardships in television at the ASTRA Women in TV Breakfast held in Sydney, Hakim explained how her brief for the BBC is “not to do the stories that are necessarily making headlines, but to chase after the stories that are under reported, that don’t get told”.
Complementing her on the panel was comedian and actor Magda Szubanski, with TV critic legend Margaret Pomeranz chairing the discussion.
Acknowledging her most prominent role has been Sharon Strzelecki in hilarious Aussie comedy show Kath & Kim, Szubanski hailed the team behind Kath & Kim for making it in comedy which is such a “male dominated domain”.
And coming out gay was a big challenge for Szubanski, as she discussed how she used to be quite worried about it when working in media.
“I always felt the decision primarily for me was between the mainstream and my sexuality,” she said.
“And I found that really difficult, because things have changed dramatically in the last few years. But certainly when I was coming up through the ranks, if I’d been openly lesbian, it would have been an absolute career wrecker.”
When it comes to dealing with fame too, Szubanski said it’s “difficult to negotiate” as it often gets in the way of friends and relationships.
Similarly Pomeranz, who has been in TV for yonks, said it’s a “great beast”.
“The problem with television is it chews you up, spits you out and then wants to do the same thing a week later,” she said.
“You need to have a passion for the great beast it is. You work all hours of the night and day, sacrificing time with kids, with family and friends, always hoping the result is worth it.”
ASTRA CEO Andrew Maiden also mentioned the industry body for subscription TV is going to up the ante on getting women in the industry to meet.
“Today I’m pleased to announce another new initiative, an annual ATSRA Women’s networking drinks to occur every year in November.”