NAME: JOYA DASS
CITY: NEW YORK, NY
HOMETOWN: ENOLA, PA
NOMINATED BY: KAVITA MEHRA
WEBSITES: www.lady-drinks.com + www.joyadass.com
Tell us what you do!
I was named Joya after the Hindu goddess of wealth. But my childhood was anything but rich. Growing up in Pennsylvania to immigrant parents from India, I learned about bharatnatyam dance and eating poori.
I also learned that women didn’t have a voice or decision-making power. Ironically, today I make my living with my voice as a television anchor. And with my women’s initiative “LadyDrinks,” I’m working to help other women find theirs. Having spent 15 years interviewing Fortune 500 CEOs, I’m creating panels and events designed to help the South Asian female entrepreneur overcome those blocks to create the whole selves they deserve.
So today, when people ask me,” What do you do?” I say, “I inhabit three avatars.”
I’m a TV anchor. I cover business news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. You can see me currently on NY1. I also host a popular Saturday morning show that keeps me connected to my South Asian roots.
I’m a documentary filmmaker. This avatar began in 2009 when I directed my first feature length documentary in Tamil Nadu, India. For three subsequent years, I directed a series of documentaries for the Rockefeller Foundation, including travels to Africa. This past year, I directed a photo essay series on female survivors of domestic violence, and was named Executive Director of a film festival, presented by HBO.
Third, I helm a women’s networking initiative called LadyDrinks. It champions the South Asian female entrepreneur and/or woman in corporate management. I’m using my 15 years of interviewing Fortune 500 CEOs and business journalism to curate and design a curriculum that provides an actionable takeaway from an event each month.
Did you go to college? If so, where?
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you “grew up”? (i.e. movie star, doctor, unicorn, etc…)
I have known since I was four years old that I wanted to be a TV anchor.
How did you get to where you are now? Tell us your story! Any obstacles along the way?
Who is your idol?
I don’t really have one.
Three personal traits/qualities that helped you get to where you are:
Persistence, hard work, independence.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I would like to be living six months in New York and six months in Majorca with my partner. In five years, I’ll have a significant body of work speaking internationally at conferences on women’s issues. I also will have directed and produced several significant docu-dramas on women’s issues.
Define “Girl Boss” in your own words.
Someone who just doesn’t give a ^&** what anyone thinks. She has an idea of what she wants, and goes after it, unapologetically. And when there are obstacles put in her way, she finds creative ways around them, through them, above them, and below them. AND she brings those who share the same value system and ethics right up along with her. I think I’m unapologetic about what I want to do. To anyone really.
When we started LadyDrinks in July 2012, and much to my surprise, some 300 South Asian women were showing up at my events. I realized that I had something here. So I began to curate the programming and introduce panels, workshops, lectures, events, and speakers, whom I had access to because of my journalism career. My nose is always to the grindstone, trying to find new and exciting ways to engage women in the membership. I should look up more often I guess.
Describe your style/fashion sense:
Bold, elegant, ladylike.
Favorite brand right now?
Go-to clothing item/accessory right now?
Leather skirts and pants.
What’s your can’t-live-without beauty product?
Moisturizer for my face. At night, it’s vitamin E oil. By day, its ROC serum and Laura Mercier primer underneath makeup.
Go-to nail color?
Essie Nail Polish Lacquer I Pink I Can #883.
My local coffee cart guy! Small coffee, light with skim milk and one Splenda.
What makes you feel beautiful?
When I get my hair professionally blown out, and when I’ve been consistently working out, and eating right.
What makes you feel badass?
French high heels.
Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS inspired me. What book has inspired you?
Laura Vanderkam’s What the Most Successful People do Before Breakfast
and Trevor Blake’s Three Simple Steps.
No Girl Boss is perfect. What’s your vice? (i.e. Chocolate, tequila, Justin Bieber, etc.)
Which artist/band/DJ are you really into right now?
Landon Austin’s cover of Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods”
What song makes you feel like a Girl Boss?
“Titanium” by David Guetta featuring Sia
“Firework” by Katy Perry
“Roar” by Katy Perry
What’s a quote that inspires/motivates you?
I pull from the dialogue of Rocky 3 in Rocky Balboa’s soliloquy to his son.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done! Now, if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that!”
Best advice you’ve ever received? And who gave it to you?
I was filming an interview with Jane Wurwand, CEO of Dermalogica with my production company a few years ago for the Women’s Step Up Network. She said women are afraid to dream and dream big. Dream big and be specific. She relayed the analogy of directions she would give to someone if that person needed to pick up a friend at the airport. If she said, the passenger was arriving tomorrow, there is no way her helper would be able to achieve said task. If all Jane said was this “passenger was arriving tomorrow at Laguardia Airport,” she would get the same result. But if Jane said, “Passenger is a tall woman with blonde hair, arriving at Laguardia Airport on a flight bound from Atlanta on American Airlines, arriving at 3:33 on Friday, May 22nd,” her helper would have a much larger chance of finding the target. Dream big. Dream specific. So when your dream shows up, you can recognize it.
The second half comes from Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret. The onus is on you to visualize everyday what it is that you want until it becomes true. But you have to FEEL that end result. Its not enough to intellectually acknowledge it.
Advice to future girl bosses:
Ask for help. I can’t do it all, and I shouldn’t. I ask for help with LadyDrinks everyday. It’s an ego swallowing process asking for sponsor dollars and money. But for every 15 rejections, that ONE ‘Yes’ makes it so amazing.
You spot it. You got it. I find when I’m going off on someone for something they did, or a characteristic they possess, I look in the mirror. Nine times out of ten, I’m angry because I have that quality in me too.
Hire people who share the same value system as you. Someone may be a rockstar on their resume, but what good is it if they don’t show up for you? I’m big on reliability and finding people who will get the job done, no matter what. Don’t throw the book at me. Get down in the trenches and help me do this. Even if it takes until midnight.
Remember to say ‘thank you’ everyday. I have an attitude of gratitude, and remember to say it to myself and others everyday.