Eleven high-profile Aussies tell-all to host Yumi Stynes on how they forged a career in the spotlight despite facing racial prejudice, discrimination and a lack of visible role models in SBS’s electrifying new podcast, Seen.
This interview series talks to trailblazers in media, arts and culture, science, sport and beyond about the importance of being seen.
Hosted by writer, TV presenter and podcaster, Yumi Stynes, Seen offers riveting storytelling and personal experiences that help us understand the importance of diversity in media.
“I was so excited to find these wonderful people, and to unfurl their stories as best I could and allow their stories to speak,” Stynes said.
“It’s an important question to ask: are these voices being heard less or not at all because of things beyond their control? Like race, ability or disability, religion. Are they being given fewer opportunities or more obstacles because of that?”
The series chronicles experiences of how it feels to be the first – the first person of your colour, faith, sexual orientation or ability to succeed in your chosen field – and how the world reacts to that success.
Deeply personal and moving stories are told by a stellar line-up of guests including disability activist and writer Hannah Diviney; NITV and Channel 10 star newsreader, Whadjuk Noongar woman Narelda Jacobs; and retired Australian rugby sevens Olympian and trans man Ellia Green.
“In the podcast Hannah Diviney talks about how as a young girl with cerebral palsy, she used to stare at herself in the mirror for ages because she was worried that if she didn’t, she might disappear. She literally couldn’t see herself anywhere else, but in the mirror,” Stynes said.
Another astonishing guest on the podcast is writer, activist and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied who faced an avalanche of online trolling in response to a social media post in 2017.
“Yassmin and I have known each other for a few years and when her situation reached a real crisis point, there were a lot of people like me watching in utter dismay, thinking, ‘This is what happens to women of colour who are mouthy,’” Stynes said.
“You don’t have to say the wrong thing, you just have to say anything. That interview was like a therapy session for me and a chance for us both to look back and go, ‘What the heck was that?’”
Stynes hopes the stories from Seen will broaden people’s idea of what a diverse and multicultural Australia looks like.
“I think it cracks open the scope of what we view as ‘Australia’ or ‘Australians’, so if you want to widen your understanding of who makes up the population of this wonderful country then the podcast introduces some inspiring Australians that you’ll be glad you met.”
Seen is the first new podcast series published since SBS’s recent rebrand to SBS Audio and the launch of their new digital offering. The series was pitched to SBS by podcast agency Audiocraft as part of SBS’s annual podcast call out.
Full list of Seen guests:
- Narelda Jacobs –Whadjuk Noongar journalist
Narelda Jacobs is a Whadjuk Noongar woman and the first Aboriginal, openly lesbian newsreader on TV in Western Australia. Narelda reflects on her relationships with her parents, coming to terms with her sexuality, forging her career in media and the responsibility she bears as a very visible First Nations media personality.
- Hannah Diviney –Disability activist and writer
Growing up, Hannah Diviney was constantly asked what her Paralympic sport was going to be. “I would always turn around and be like, see my two sisters over there. How come you’re not asking them what their Olympic sport is going to be?” Hannah discusses why representation is so important, taking on Lizzo and how she is working to shatter misconceptions about disability.
- Michael Mohammed Ahmad – Award winning novelist and playwright
As a young actor looking to make his mark, Michael Mohammed Ahmad faced one problem, people only wanted to cast him as a drug dealer. The writer, author and founder of Sweatshop Western Literary Movement speaks about his experiences growing up as a young Muslim Lebanese man in a post 9/11 world, the defining moments that have shaped his career and how mirroring is key to nuanced representation.
- Yassmin Abdel-Magied – Writer, social advocate, and cancel culture survivor
Writer, activist and broadcaster Yassmin Abdel-Magied is, for better or worse, one of the most visible women in the Australian media. The negative backlash following a social media post in 2017 left her questioning where she belonged. In this episode of Seen, Yassmin chats about the limitations of the model minority myth, what it’s like to be ‘cancelled’ and what it looks like to move on.
- Atong Atem – Internationally renowned artist and writer
Atong Atem’s way of expressing herself has taken the art world by storm. Within a culture that has long centred whiteness, Atong’s futuristic self-portraits celebrate and centre blackness. Artist Atong Atem speaks about her experiences migrating to Australia, failing art school, and the weight of hypervisibility as a black woman in today’s world.
- Ray Ahn – Punk legend from the Hard-Ons
Imagine performing shirtless as an Asian male in a room full of neo-Nazis? In the height of the 1980’s punk scene, the Hard-Ons were a force to be reckoned with. Ray Ahn talks about his experience coming to Australia as a Korean migrant, discovering his love for punk rock, and the Aussie rock legend who shaped what he thought possible.
- Shyamla Eswaran –Performing artist
When Shyamla Eswaran sat down for a portrait with Archibald prize winning painter Blak Douglas, he saw Shyamla in a light they weren’t ready to see themselves. The gender fluid dancer and artist talks about growing up South-Asian in Sydney’s Shire and connecting with their identity through dance.
- Stuart Yiwarr McGrath – Aboriginal health practitioner and first Yolngu nurse
Stuart Yiwarr McGrath is a Galiwin’ku man from north-east Arnhem Land. He’s passionate about shifting the dial on health discrimination and providing culturally appropriate healthcare to his community. Yumi Stynes speaks to Stuart about becoming the first registered Yolngu nurse and what it means to reconcile both the Blak and white parts of his identity.
- Professor Veena Sahajwalla — Eureka Prize-winning inventor and recycling Queen
Professor Veena Sahajwalla spent her childhood running through the bazaars of Mumbai and watching her mother’s holistic approach to medicine. The 2022 NSW Australian of the Year speaks about her passion for recycling, her determination to change the world through science and how she’s paving the way for other women in her field.
- Dr Dinesh Palipana — Doctor, lawyer and disability advocate
Following a car accident that left him paralysed, medical student Dinesh Palipana didn’t know if a future in medicine was even possible. Yumi Stynes speaks to Dinesh about finding purpose in life, creating meaning through tragedy and his journey to becoming the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland.
- Ellia Green — Rugby player and Olympian
All eyes were on Ellia Green when he won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, but there was only one person he needed to be seen by. The first Olympian to come out as a trans man, Ellia chats about his upbringing in Fiji and Australia, his journey to the Olympics and the women who helped him feel seen.
Media Release – SBS