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SheCAN: The Scene Presenter Salma El-Wardany

SheCAN: The Scene Presenter Salma El-Wardany

The Scene is on  BBC Radio London with evening shows from Monday 26 November as six new presenters take over from 8-10pm, fronted by six presenters with backgrounds from across London’s cultural, music, comedy and spoken word worlds.

BBC Radio London Editor David Robey, says: “The Scene will be a platform for London’s community arts, entertainment and cultural activities, featuring new talent and emerging artists, performers and creators. Aurie, Claira, Judi, Jasmine, Salma and Lionheart have first-hand experience and knowledge of what’s happening in London’s creative and diverse communities which they will bring to listeners every weekday evening on The Scene.”  Alt wanted to find out more about writer, poet, spoken word artist and TEDx speaker Salma El-wardany. Pictured Salma and co-host Lionheart.


Tell us about The Scene how did you get involved, what is your role?

The Scene is an incredible new show on BBC Radio London that shines a spotlight on undiscovered creative talent on the streets of London. So that’s everything from singers, musicians, poets, painters, filmmakers, directors, writers, ANYBODY doing ANYTHING creative.

The focus of the show is arts and culture with a focus on diversity, why is it important to have these conversations now?

It’s always been important to have these conversations, but we’re currently reaching a tipping point so now they matter even more than before. People have been fighting to have these conversations and bring more diversity into the arts for years, and we’re finally gaining some momentum with that, so it’s so crucial that when that tipping point hits, we’re all on the right side helping push it over as opposed to resisting that change. Plus, representation matters so much and the current creative arts scene in the UK isn’t representative of our actual society so it’s past time to shift that and start showcasing the reality of the incredibly rich and diverse country we live in, and especially here in London.

Woman are being given a platform and the focus on women has catapulted, do you think we can sustain this movement and can it be credited to the #Timesup and #Metoo movements?

I think it would be unfair of the efforts of feminists over the decades to solely credit the current shifts to just those two movements, especially since they are movements that have been dominated by white, let’s be honest, rich, women. It is not just a financially elite section of society that gets to make change, but rather it is all of us that have contributed from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Those two movements have been incredible at igniting popular discourse and pushing some really difficult conversations into the spotlight, but I think women taking, and I use that word as opposed to giving, the platforms they deserve can be credited to a multitude of reasons, and a huge one being that we’re no longer willing to swallow silence. We’ve reached such a boiling point of anger, frustration and hurt that we’ve almost snapped. Have gone past the point of tiptoeing around societal expectations and are not holding back anymore, and that’s such a wonderful space to be in. I think we can and will sustain this, not just because we’re all fighting together in a way we haven’t always managed to, but because we have no other choice. Like I said, we’re at boiling point.

Tell us about some of the others presenter in the show?

The beautiful thing about The Scene is we have a mix of talented presenters so it’s a real honour to work by their side and creates such an eclectic program. We have two incredible comedians Aurie Styla (Monday’s show) and Judi Love (Wednesday’s show) who constantly keep me in stitches. Claira Hermet (Tuesday’s show) keeps us educated on all pockets of London’s cultures and Jasmine Dotiwala (Thursday’s show) has incredible guests and is such a powerhouse of a woman. Then of course there’s my own co-host, Lionheart, a phenomenal poet and artist.

Where did the idea for the Scene come from?

We’re all creatives and artists but we all refer to our areas of expertise as ‘the scene’. It might be the poetry scene, comedy scene, grime scene or whatever. It’s the spaces we all exist in creating connections, art and expressing ourselves, so it felt right to name the show that and represent it in that way. I think it’s also a nod to the collective communities that make up these scenes. This isn’t just about us as individual presenters, this is about all of London and our fellow artists.

Who is the show aimed at and what are the topics you are most exciting about discussing?

It’s aimed at creatives, people who appreciate creativity and practice it in the small and big ways. So that could be people hustling to create and share their art with the world, or it might also be people who are content with consuming the creative scene and being a supporter of the arts as opposed to a contributor. It’s also for a younger generation that are engaged with current affairs and have a real desire to talk about issues in a way we haven’t always done. Think of it as an open space where we can have honest conversations, tell our stories and share creativity with one another. For me, the most exciting things I want to talk about are around feminism and the women on the scene who are doing incredible things, and also the men who are supporting and contributing to gender equality. That gets me SO excited.

If anyone wants to be featured on the show how do they get involved?

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Send an owl. No, I’m joking of course, but if any Harry Potter fans get that reference and want to reach out via owl mail, I’m so here for that. In all seriousness, reach out to us on Twitter, Instagram or email. Whether it’s the BBC handles or our personal ones. Send us a message and let us know what you’re up to. We really want to hear from people so it’s always such a joy when we get those messages. I always say the show isn’t just a conversation between Lionheart and I, it’s between all of us. We’re all family now.

How did you get started in Radio, what was your first job?

Does pretending to do the BBC broadcast from my bedroom at the age of six count as my first job? Because if so, that was it. I’ve had loads of practice. But outside my imaginary childhood games, this is my first radio gig actually. I’ve done lots of public speaking and performing while being very present in the creative scene in London, so it feels like a really natural and beautiful next step.

Given the platform as an Egyptian/Irish Muslim what are some of the perceptions you would like change given the platform?

Oh God most of them to be honest. I do a lot of work to fight against stereotypical perceptions of Muslim women, so really driven to keep fighting for a new narrative. One that doesn’t exist within the boundaries of terrorism or oppression. I think it’s only by having open conversations about these topics that we get to change things and that’s what I’m so excited about, as well as just being a visible Muslim woman that doesn’t fit any of the preconceived notions. Smashing stereotypes one radio show at a time.

When is your next show on the air and what topics will it be covering.

We’re on air every Friday night, 8-10pm. This week (21st Dec) we’ve got this year’s Young People’s Laurette on the show, a writer and activist as well as a singer. What an incredible mix. We’ll be talking about adversity and what we do when challenged.

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