We’re excited to bring you an exclusive interview with Maryland native and sports broadcaster: Imani Bashir!
You have a very dynamic Instagram page that showcases both your unique hijab style and your broadcasting dreams.
Can you tell us a little bit more on how this all started?
I started in Sports Broadcasting 3 years ago. I was out of school, working at a restaurant and my uncle calls me and says “I need you to come on the road”. Prior to that, the only experience I had was shadowing Pam Oliver for FOX Sports. The company that I work for my uncle created to give Historically Black Colleges and Universities national exposure, and since he started it 7 years ago, it’s truly grown. Long story short my first time on the road ended up taking me to 3 cities in 7 days, so I had to learn very quickly. People think that because it’s my uncles company that it’s a piece of cake. However, he’s had decades in the broadcast industry so his name holds weight and I had more pressure on me than anyone.
Where are you based out of and where do you go to school?
I currently live in Delaware and I have recently gotten back in school. I am from Bowie, Maryland. I did not finish my Bachelors and am currently completing it at Delaware State University, where I began my collegiate career in 2004. Insha’Allah (God willing) I will graduate in December of this year.
Have you found it hard to be a Muslim woman wearing hijab and pursuing the broadcast world?
Being a Muslim hijabi woman in the broadcast industry has actually been opposite of what I thought. Naturally, I had slight insecurities about interacting with people. I had the idea in my head that people would perceive me a certain way or that they wouldn’t respect me but my experience has been to the contrary. I believe that people see my confidence and respect that I have a job to do and that I will not allow anyone to deter me from doing that job. People respect people that respect themselves and I stand proudly as a hijabi and I believe I am treated accordingly.
Sports in particular has had a history of not giving female reporters access to interviews, have you faced any of that?
I have experienced a few times where people have tried to deny me interviews. I have had times when coaches even tell me that they will not speak to me. One of the best things that I learned from Pam Oliver (FOX Sports) is that as a woman you have to be more aggressive and don’t take no for an answer. I learned that being passive or giving up interviews hinders the broadcasts and is a reflection of my team and the company I work for.
So, I do not take no for an answer. If I can’t get through the front door, then I’ll go through the back door, the side door, the roof, etc.
I have a story to get across to the nation and for that reason I cannot take no for an answer and traditionally have gotten my way. I always tell the people that deny me access that they are only hurting the student athletes and their institution because our broadcasts help provide free marketing to the schools, exposure for the athletes, and a bigger platform for people to tune in if they cannot make the game.
What would you say your dream job is?
My dream job would be to work for a major broadcast company such as FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL Network, TNT, etc. I love Sports broadcasting and would love to do what I do on a bigger level. I would also like to do a daytime TV show like “The View or co-host on “Good Morning America”.
Have you faced any negativity or criticism for your career goals in the Muslim or non Muslim community?
I have not received any negative criticisms from the Muslim or Non-Muslim communities as of yet.
Who would you say is your inspiration?
My mother is always my inspiration. As a mother you naturally sacrifice a lot of your dreams to ensure your children can chase theirs. Through her strength, her love and her example as a Muslimah I am truly the woman I am today.
And finally, any words of advice for Muslim girls who feel that they want to pursue a career where they’re more visible, but aren’t sure they can handle the possible negativity they could face?
My advice to any Muslim girls wanting to pursue a career where they may encounter negativity is to look at the examples of our prophets (May God be pleased with them). All of them had a job to do and within that job they had to encounter disbelief, naysayers, and back biters but were able to persevere. Never forget what the mission is, what your goal is and never lose sight of your beliefs chasing a dream! As long as God is the center of everything you do, how can you go wrong!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to add that it’s important that Muslim women begin to be in the foreground in this country. We do not have to compromise our beliefs because we are a vital voice and face and should be represented in the public.