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a headshot of Veena Hampapur

Veena Hampapur

New Voices '22

Tell us about yourself:

Before joining the audio world, I earned a PhD in sociocultural anthropology from UCLA. My research focused on working class immigrant communities, and examined how race, immigration, education, and policing shape one another post-9/11. I also made documentaries and advocacy films, one of my all-time favorites being a short on my mom’s Lakers fandom

I fell in love with audio storytelling because it brought together passions and skills I developed in each of these worlds, and gave me the chance to feel whole by diving deep into my emotional, creative, and intellectual sides. I currently produce two podcasts: Re:Work and Memos from Motherhood (Or, I Gave Birth During a Pandemic?!).

A piece of yours or project (in any medium) that you'd like to share.

I appreciated the opportunity to work on the Re:Work episode Stranded, which focused on the humanitarian crisis for migrant workers when India suddenly went on lockdown in 2020.

What draws you to storytelling?

Since childhood, storytelling has been a way for me to make sense of the world, including my own family's history. I grew up cherishing stories from my family members about their lives in India and early days after immigrating to the US. I was exposed to Hindu mythology from a young age and was constantly reading as a kid. Growing up, my cousins, sisters, and I enjoyed telling stories through creating plays, fiddling with the camcorder, and the list goes on.

I am drawn to telling stories about community and belonging (or the lack thereof) that push us to think more deeply about why people are the way they are; that challenge assumptions of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and class; and that bring together emotion and critical thinking. I especially love stories centered on women and generations.

What excites you the most about being a New Voices Scholar?

This work can be solitary, and it has been exciting and inspiring to meet people from a diversity of backgrounds who are passionate about audio storytelling and building community.

What’s playing on your radio/audio streaming service right now?

Making Contact

What’s the most underrated tool (technical or not) that you use in your creative process?

Several years ago my aunt gifted me a bunch of small notepads that you expect to see on an elementary school teacher’s desk - notepads shaped like apples, with borders that look like crayons, etc. I find them really helpful to work out ideas on – something about the way they look helps the work seem less intimidating. I like post-its too!

What is something you want to see more of in the industry?

More diversity, more pathways into this industry, more ways to find shows you’ll love, especially the smaller, independent projects that may not have a large budget.

What are your radio/audio aspirations and why?

I hope to make pieces that help people think and feel all at once. I would love to work on stories about the South Asian diaspora, which I am a part of and also studied for many years. I’d also value the opportunity to help others tell their stories.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading!

Follow Veena on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.