Empowered Women Empower: Meet Seema Azharuddin
In this edition of Love Happens’ Empowered Women Empower series, join us for a peek inside the inspiring mind of Seema Niloufer Azharuddin. An actor, producer, writer, journalist, senior consultant with impeccable communication skills, and champion for several causes and campaigns, Seema is a female force! Currently, she volunteers as a spokesperson for the Indian diaspora for Biden’s presidency and contributes to a number of publications. Be empowered!
Empowered Women Empower: Meet Seema Azharuddin
Love Happens: As our name and the tagline of our publisher KOKET denotes we are firm believers that you cannot achieve any level of success without love. When did your love affair with your career path begin? And how did it make you feel?
Seema Azharuddin: With Love, you conquer the world! At the age of 18 or 19, however, love isn’t the dominant power, especially in a culture where fear is a more embedded trait in young women. On a public bus ride to college, I awoke to find myself being fondled by a male passenger seated next to me. At that moment I also awoke to my own power. I got up and yelled, and demanded the conductor throw the man off the bus. With the fear on my face replaced by a look of confidence to defend myself, I recollect this incident as the beginning of my empowerment!
My career path took several hits both personally and publicly before it became a love affair. I began with a passion for acting. This was short-lived as it was considered taboo, since I came from a family of academics. The process of rethinking and regrouping, however, allowed me to re-emerge and build on my oratorial and people skills. To this day the ‘people-planet-profit ideology, is what I work, feel, speak on and drive with the most. I am in a constant love affair with Life.
Lh: What empowers you?
Seema: The powers I already have. All women need to say “Welcome” to the powers they already own! I was born with a few and early on recognized the need to act upon them, and I did. This led me on the path to fight for my rights. As a 10-year-old I got my way when I refused to be bullied into giving up my doughnut to a senior in boarding school. Today, I am a champ at crushing ‘bullism’ (my term for the wanna-be bulls) whenever I am or see others faced with bullies. A lot of bullying has at its core a lack of gender parity. It’s amazing how bullying manifests and is seen as a strength when it is a weakness arising from a sense of inferiority.
Take ownership of the powers you already have.
Lh: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Seema: I am still considering it! I understand that each one of us has the same hours in a day, but it’s how we use these hours, in tandem with helping those in need each day, that makes achievements happen. To make achievements, women must use and grow the power they already have. To make real progress it must be about power, not just ’empowerment’.
Lh: Who is Seema Azharuddin the Woman?
Seema: Maybe it boils down to, I’m a woman who leads by choice, not position. I will wear self-designed Seema boots to my battles with the ‘no guts; no glory’ message tattooed on my arm and win the day. By night I will dance and wine the red, and fan the wind beneath my wings. As a woman, Seema Niloufer Azharuddin tries to keep the victory light burning within even as she sleeps. It is how she survives her adversities, and she has had many. This made her want to be better than she was yesterday.
I, Seema, the woman, do so relate to Amy Schumer’s thought when she said, and I quote, “I am a woman with thoughts and questions and shit to say, I say if I’m beautiful, I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story—I will.”
Lh: Who is Seema Azharuddin the Actor, Producer, Journalist, Consultant, and Activist?
Seema: A fire-cracker expressionist! All these avatars gave her the platforms she stands on and for, allow her to express and act upon her beliefs. I have been asked this question a few times and every time they (these avatars of mine) call out to me to take the lead! The actor in me consults with the activist within to write and produce my everyday stories.
It was Coco Chanel that said, “A girl should be two things: Who and What she wants.” While taking on my passions, I see the who and what in me, and hear it. Aloud.
Lh: How do you empower other women?
Seema: Leading by example is important, especially for the many women who are seen through a man’s lens and scrutinized for imperfections. Mistakes, vulnerabilities, setbacks in the workplace or anywhere, do not make a woman irrelevant.
I have advised many to face the truth and speak the truth and, above all, admit to mistakes, then make the corrections and make them count.
There must be NO apology for not being perfect, and I have often advocated that women aspiring to be in leadership roles must admit to their vulnerabilities.
I choose mostly to awaken the power within that most women have. I have an issue with female rivalry and that is of concern as well, but with so few opportunities in the boardrooms or platforms in society, it’s bound to disrupt how the powers are used. So, I try to empower women to make better choices.
Lh: What three pieces of advice would you give to a young woman starting her career?
Seema: Our future belongs to the young in every generation. We must never forget that. I’m very passionate about our not-so-fortunate young and where they are headed with their careers. Advice is cheap, it’s the action steps that will give them a lead, and my top 3 to act upon are:
- Build competence to increase confidence and authority.
- Focus on being responsible and accountable.
- Elevate your competitive hormones and never cheat.
- One more I will add. Please understand the power of money and your power over it.
Lh: Do you have any mottos you like to live by? Or favorite empowering quotes?
Seema: I believe in the motto, ‘What goes around comes around,’ so I try never to hurt anyone or anything.
Of the quotes that come to mind, three that I love:
“A woman is like a teabag—you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“Life is not about reaching finishing lines, it is a continuum.” – Helena Morrissey, British Financer and CEO of Newton Investment Management
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?” – Ayn Rand, Russian American Author / Philosopher
And I always have to add this one:
“It’s not your job to like me. It’s mine.” – Byron Katie
Lh: What’s next for Seema Azharuddin?
Seema: To be an author. Groom the girl-child. Fix my wrongs. Practice humility. Find new positions to make love with Life—naked, transparent, and truthful. A perfect climax!
Read Seema Azharuddin’s articles for Love Happens, so empowering and inspiring! And check out her TedxTalk Lead Don’t Plead.
By Anna Beck Bimba