Cover Friends To Mankind Youth Ambassador Apshy Vimal spills the details on her latest podcast project

From online dating to immigration policies, the young host of The Woke Up Show podcast isn't afraid to explore important under-discussed issues

Apshy Vimal loves podcasts, but it was the Covid-19 pandemic that compelled her to launch her own podcast series, The Woke Up Show. The show was created to be a space for young people to discuss taboo topics in Malaysia and foster a sense of connection amidst the isolation felt by many during the lockdown.

Currently the Project Lead and Youth Ambassador at non-profit organisation Friends to Mankind Malaysia, Apshy's work on The Book Effect Project came to an abrupt halt during the pandemic. In 2020, together with her co-founder Tim Fernandez, Apshy started a company focussing on corporate social responsibility consulting, which also hit a wall as nationwide lockdowns took effect. The Woke Up Show soon became their passion project and before they knew it, they had recorded their first season.            

Related: How Apshy Vimal Is Changing Habits With The Book Effect

"I cannot say that I'm woke," Apshy enthuses. "Half the time during the episodes I’m rethinking my stance on certain topics and saying, 'Maybe I should change the way I think about this and that'. With The Woke Up Show, we kept thinking we should talk like people who don’t know things but want to know things."

Tatler chats with Apshy on the biggest challenges of starting this podcast project.

Tell us what The Woke Up Show is all about.

When Tim and I were brainstorming, I said, "Why don’t we do a podcast?" We were determined to figure it out as we went along. We didn’t even have a budget to start with. I said I'll host it, ask our friends to come on, and we’ll pick topics that are interesting and that aren't talked about as much in Malaysia.

Very often, we see topics like these discussed by doctors, lawyers, and professional individuals. But when I hear someone who looks, acts and sounds like me talking about these issues, I'm more likely to watch that video. We don't pretend to be experts, we're just figuring it out. The people who have watched it so far love it and it feels like we're growing right before their eyes. With each season, we’re trying to get better. We’re nowhere near our finished state, but we’re working on it.

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Which episodes are your favourite so far? 

We did an episode on female body positivity with Nalisa Amin. In another episode, we spoke to the founders of The Pendulum Show podcast about censorship in Malaysia. It was an informative experience speaking with those guys. Honestly, it was nice to have that moment where four Indian people are talking politics on the show. Having that kind of representation is also something we strive for on The Woke Up Show.

This season, my all-time favourite episode was the one where we talked to drag queens. 

What was the biggest challenge for you when starting out with this show? 

I think for me, it was also about finding my flow. I kept asking myself how to create and maintain this space where everyone feels comfortable and open, and where everyone feels heard. Also, finding guests for the show is one of the hardest things to do. We have three guests per episode. That’s a lot!  

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Are there any weighty topics that you'd like to broach in the near future on The Woke Up Show?

One of the things we really want to talk about which we haven’t dived into yet is death in custody in Malaysia, based on what we saw in the news about the recent deaths of Indians in police custody. Topics like these are what we have to talk about. If we don’t even start the conversations on these issues, we’re not doing our show justice.

We are careful with what we post and we are mindful, but I don’t think there’s anything that can stop me from talking about what's important to me.
Apshy Vimal

Given your own confidence on camera, what tips would you share on being more confident on-screen?

Honestly, the lights, camera, make-up, it's an exaggerated version of life, it’s not everyday life. One thing I try to remember is this: whatever I look like on camera–if I feel fat, or ugly or whatever–it doesn’t matter. I’m here to do a job and I believe what I’m trying to do is bigger than the self-consciousness I feel.

Sometimes you have to hype yourself up on the days you’re not feeling it, right? That insecurity can so easily get to me, but if I’m overthinking them, then I’m not engaged in the conversations happening on the show.

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