Apshy Vimal, co-founder of Yuzu Media and host of The Woke Up Show, earned a bachelor’s degree in International Humanitarian Affairs and Sociology from Fordham University in New York City, USA in 2017. She was the president of the Feminist Alliance while in campus, and she also worked at the United Nations Foundation in New York City. Apshy has always been passionate about social justice and encourages her friends and peers to talk about it. During the pandemic, she and her partner Tim Fernandez decided to form Yuzu Media and produced The Woke Up Show in order to provide something new to the Malaysian media industry and viewers.
Congratulations on the new season of The Woke Up Show! There is a lot of enthusiasm seen and felt in every episode as you discuss taboo topics, which can be hard to bring up but you did it in a light setting, making it easier for viewers to take in. Any challenges that you faced while preparing for the various topics?
Thank you so much! I think the biggest thing we were concerned about was doing justice by these topics. We wanted to speak about it in a way that was open, honest and showed the public that there is no need for there to be a stigma around it. The more we talk about these things, the more they are understood and the more they are normalised. We work hard to make it somewhat palatable for a wider audience but also retaining the authenticity of the conversation – on our show, you’re free to speak openly, even if what you say isn’t quite right there is no judgment, we’re all just trying to #getwoke together!
The Woke Up Show features young people to talk about different topics. How did this idea come up and what is the drive behind this idea?
We actually started Yuzu Media during the pandemic and wanted to create a platform that was rooted in inclusivity and heart. As a huge fan of podcasts myself, my partner – Tim Fernandez and I decided that to set ourselves apart, we’d create one that was fresh and new where we spoke about the things we were all facing during this hard time. Our first 13 episodes, although with a variety of topics, very much covered the variety of emotions we all felt during the pandemic.
As someone who is passionate about social justice which led you to create The Woke Up Show, is there any favourite episode of yours or a specific topic that you wish more people would talk about?
A personal favourite of mine was the Female Body Positivity episode and the up-coming episode where we spoke to Drag Queens. With the female body positivity, it was so nice to have a space to chat with fellow women in a supportive space about our relationships, with our bodies – something that isn’t always okay to talk about. With the drag queens, I am a HUGE fan of drag, so being able to hear them speak on their experiences and owning their narrative was a beautiful experience for me. Even my parents, who were present at the shoot, were left feeling inspired by the courage that these queens had.
In terms of a specific topic that I’d like to see more people speak on, there isn’t really one that I have in mind but what I do hope is that through seeing us on the show just chit-chatting together and learning, more people will start these conversations in their own lives about whatever topics that affects them.
You are also 9 years running for Youth Ambassador for Friends to Mankind. Do you have a story to share as an ambassador that you would like people to learn from?
Working with Friends To Mankind (FtoM) for so many years was an incredible experience. Through so many projects and being exposed to so many different things, it really helped me grow as a person. I was only 15 when I started my journey with FtoM and it taught me so many skills that it lent itself to my current endeavours.
One story that always sticks to me is that while working on The Book Effect project, we went to one orphanage in Rawang that housed children who were HIV positive. When we went there, the mother of the home explained to us how much discrimination the children face – Teachers not allowing them in classrooms, fellow children bullying them for the HIV status and even other adults further perpetuating the ostracisation of them in society. This truly broke my heart because the fact is that you CANNOT get HIV through simple means of interacting with someone who is HIV positive, and the lack of education on this specific issue is why these children have become outcasts. I remember thinking that if people were just educated on this, maybe they would be a little kinder towards these innocent children. This isn’t a happy story per say, but it left a strong impression on me.
Can you tell us what we should look forward to in the new season of The Woke Up Show?
We’ve been working hard over the past year to really find a flow and I feel like this season we’ve refined it further. We’re not perfect yet, and likely never will be, but I am proud of the openness in the conversations we’ve had. We were lucky that our guests shared their vulnerability with us to really create a meaningful discussion.
When you are not planning for the next show, what do you do during your free time?
We are constantly planning the next shows and the next season – there is sooooo much behind the scenes work that goes on before filming. I also write articles for Yuzu Media amongst some other social media work that I do.
Any parting words for readers to follow in your footsteps…
I would say just start talking to your friends, your parents, your colleagues, or to anyone who will listen. The more you talk about things that you care about, the more those things will become normalised. Hopefully by doing so, as a society, we’ll be able to understand each other a little better and create a world that is empathic to the struggles that everyone is facing.
The Woke Up Show Season 3 Trailer
The Woke Up Show’s mission is to de-stigmatize taboo topics in order to reclaim and rewrite the narrative that might surround them. To date, it has discussed about dating apps, female body positivity, pandemic fatigue, long-distance relationships, censorship, and many other topics in the previous seasons.
There are now 13 episodes available, with six more slated to premiere weekly beginning from the 14th of November. Catch their new season, where they continue to push the limits by discussing drag queens, immigration, and the idea of beauty.