This year’s ITV weekend series ‘Take Me Out’ has a desi twist to it, with Meera Sharma one of the contestants hoping to be whisked away for a date in Fernandos. Being from a South Asian background, Sharma is hoping to challenge the stereotypes Asian women face, as well as find a potential partner in an unconventional way through a television show. BizAsia’s Raj Baddhan caught up with Sharma about her stint so far on the popular dating show.

What was your main reason to participate in ‘Take Me Out’?
I’ve followed ‘Take Me Out’ for years and thought it would be a fun dating show to go on as it allows you to express your personality. It’s also good platform for me to break down the stereotypes often associated with South Asian woman… and we all know what they are!

What kind of feelings were going inside you when you had been accepted?
I was excited to show my sassy personality to the UK but at the same time it felt unreal. It only really hit me that I was going to be on ‘Take Me Out’ when it was announced to the press that I was going to be part of Paddy’s ‘Flirty Thirty’!

In the digital era we’re living, what kind of reaction have you had from people who know about the unconventional route you’ve taken?
The reaction has been very positive and everyone has been really supportive. I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me to say how great I’ve come across. I also don’t think it’s an unconventional route to take – it’s a modern take on a Swayamvara.

My aunts, uncles, cousins etc have been tuning in every week and routing for me to get a date to Fernandos. They are really pleased with how I’ve come across.

Coming from a South Asian background, what kind of comments have you received from the community?
Since announcing that I was going to be on Take Me Out, the topic of what the ‘community’ will think, or have said, has come up in conversation, a lot. I was brought up in a household that celebrates both Western and Indian culture, so there was never any talk of the community or what it would think. I have always been encouraged to follow the career path of my choice and live life exactly the way I want to. My situation isn’t unique as many South Asians I meet share a similar upbringing. The reason I believe they ask this is due to the stereotypical South Asian narrative that is reflected by the media. It’s a narrative we need to move away from, and we most definitely need to stop being concerned with what the figment community will think.

Do you feel your participation on the show, will break stereotypes amongst viewers about Asian women?
Yes, I feel it will. I want to show viewers that the images they would have seen in the noughties of a South Asian woman, as oppressed in mainstream media are inaccurate. The reality is that British Indian women are happy to embrace their rich culture, we are not afraid to give are opinions, think freely without fear of ‘the community’, follow a career path of our choice and of course date!

Meera Sharma

So yeah, the best part of being on ‘Take Me Out’is that I can hopefully inspire individuals watching at home to live their best life!

What has been the best part of being on ‘Take Me Out’?
‘Take Me Out’ has given me a platform to show my sassy personality and fun dress sense. It’s also been a great platform to talk about my book – The Little Book of Sass, which I wrote to motivate individuals in the form of #sasspirational quotes. I believe everyone can live their best life but I acknowledge we can have down days and that’s where my book comes in. It’s the perfect pick me up when you need it the most! So yeah, the best part of being on ‘Take Me Out’is that I can hopefully inspire individuals watching at home to live their best life!

Have there been things that have occurred unexpectedly after appearing on ‘Take Me Out’?
Not really. However, I do get a lot of unwanted messages from guys telling me they would keep my light on…

Depending on the outcome of ‘Take Me Out’, how interested are you to pursue a career in media?
I would be very interested as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being on TV! I love that I can use my platform to open the conversation around representation on prime-time TV and teach females to channel their inner sass to positively impact their life. These are both two topics that mean a lot to me.

Meera Sharma a contestant in ITV show ‘Take Me Out’

Would be good to see more Asians go on mainstream dating shows though! An Indian on the next series of Love Island would be great!

Do you feel more should be done about Asians in the matrimonial space?
This is a space that Asians are already strongly part of. There are numerous Asian dating and matrimonial platforms out there to choose from. It would be good to see more Asians step out of their comfort zone and go on mainstream dating shows though! An Indian on the next series of Love Island would be fantastic to see.

Any final words?
Sassy to me means being self-assured, spirited and bold. I want everyone reading this to channel this inner sass in their day to day life.

Meera Sharma is the Author of the Little Book of Sass, which features sasspirational quotes to motivate individuals to live their best life! Buy her book directly from Amazon here

Follow Meera on Twitter and Instagram @meerasharm