on witnessing –
hosted by padani

shauna summers
Hair & make-up

Padani is the founder and host of "On Witnessing," a podcast showcasing South Asian individuals in the creative industries. The podcast aims to delve into discussions about identity and belonging within the South Asian diasporic community. After working in the fashion industry and connecting with other South Asian creatives, Padani noticed a glaring lack of representation. She reflects, "It is so rare to find South Asian individuals in the creative fields. In our community, we are not taught to pursue a creative path."

By unfolding the stories of these individuals, Padani is creating a safe space for mutual understanding, inspiration, and growth.

JH: Could you briefly introduce yourself?

P: My name is Padani. I am 23 years old and I grew up in Sri Lanka. At the age of 10, my family and I moved to Germany due to the political situation in Sri Lanka. Currently, I am studying international marketing, modelling on the side, and have recently started my passion project, "On Witnessing."

JH: What is the story behind your podcast, and where did the inspiration come from?

P: The basic idea for the podcast was in the air for about two years, but I wasn't sure about the subject yet. Last year in April, as I started modelling, I had an eye-opening moment witnessing the gap in the creative industry. It struck me that there weren't many people of South Asian descent in the industry to look up to. This experience led me to start the podcast to inspire others in our community and represent our culture.

JH: Can you reveal a bit about the first two podcasts and your guests?

P: In the first episode of the podcast, I invited my friend Abarna Kugathasan, whom I randomly bumped into on the street when I moved to my university city. Abarna was finishing her fashion design degree at that time and was looking for models. She quickly became a role model for me, embodying her Tamil culture in a way I was afraid to at that point. The second podcast episode features Thiravisha & Thiravigah, twins from Denmark of Elam Tamil heritage, who are also modelling, and running their own creative agency: The Gemini Agency. Their story revolves around paving their own path in the creative industry while navigating their cultural background and overcoming the pressure to follow a traditional route.

JH: What do you hope to achieve with your podcast?

P: The podcast aims to inspire and provide representation. Growing up, I didn't have a sense of belonging to a community; I always felt like an outsider. Sharing these stories and having people come together as a community to a shared narrative, I felt like this can have a long lasting impact.

JH: Final words on "On Witnessing"

P: In the future, Padani hopes it will be "normal" to see people from the South Asian community in creative industries. She envisions young talents being encouraged, rather than discouraged, to pursue a creative path and to take up space, challenging the notion of making themselves small and not pursuing their goal that are considered “crazy” within the south asian community.