Anita Rani

Next up in our series of Pearly Queen interviews, we spoke with presenter, broadcaster, producer and writer Anita Rani.

Anita shares her proudest achievements, how she likes to spend time in nature, and her approach to fashion.

In your career you wear many different hats–a presenter, broadcaster, producer and a Sunday Times bestselling author. What do you love most about your work? What achievements are you most proud of?

I love the variety. I absolutely love that I am able to put on so many different hats because why not? Men have been able to do lots of different things for many, many, many years. So it's a real privilege that I've been able to write, and present and produce, and also become the Chancellor of the University of Bradford. That's a huge honour to be able to give back to my city.

I love being able to interview women, I love that I'm able to spotlight other women doing amazing things on [BBC Radio 4’s] Woman's Hour. And I'm most proud of the fact that I'm launching the Rani scholarship at the University of Bradford, which means that every year four girls from marginalised backgrounds will be put through university on my scholarships. Education is a huge part of what I believe in, because education is where it all starts. If you educate a girl, you educate every generation after her, so it changes the game.

You’ve presented BBC’s Countryfile, one of the nation’s favourite shows, since 2015. How has being a Countryfile presenter impacted your view of the countryside and nature - and the impact we are having on our planet?"

I am so lucky that I get to work on a programme that gets me out into the countryside. I live in an amazing city, but I would suggest every single one of us gets out into the country. If you can, go for a walk, take your shoes and socks off, and just feel grass underfoot. I think that is innate in us. Often we talk about nature as though it's a separate thing. But, as humans, we are part of nature, we are part of this incredible ecosystem. And we just need to respect it and live in harmony with it, and not take it for granted.



What’s your favourite thing to do outdoors? How do you like to spend time in nature?

I'm a massive outdoor fan. I love running – my ‘meetings of one’ is what I call them. I love the experience of putting on my headphones, listening to some amazing music and just going for a run.I don't run to time myself, I don't run because I'm training for a marathon, I just run because I love the freedom of just going. And there is something about looking around at trees, watching the different seasons. I even love running in the rain– I'm one of those crazy people. But apart from running, when I'm not exercising, just going for a walk.

And I love a sunrise and a sunset. I absolutely love a sunrise, especially on holiday. Got to get up really early one morning to witness a sunrise, it's really important. In a sunrise, anything's possible. It's like what is going to happen today? Anything could happen.


    In 2021 you released your memoir, ‘The Right Sort of Girl’, in which you share your journey from growing up in a Punjabi family in 80s Yorkshire, to the present day, reflecting on what it means to find your identity in between two cultures and sharing the lessons you wish your younger self could have known. Why was it important for you to share your story?

    Yeah, why did I put my life out there for everyone to read? Good question. I felt it was really important because there aren't many women who look like me in the public sphere. And I think sometimes people feel if you have a level of success that you may have privilege that they don't have. So I wanted to share my story to tell younger boys and girls that I know you and I come from your background, and that my life was just as chaotic and just as messed up. It’s an immigrant story, and I wanted people to hopefully see themselves.

    Also, I wanted to lift the lid on what it means to be a South Asian woman. Because people don't talk about our experience, and often we’re discriminated against within our own homes before we even set foot out into the world for them to have a go at us. And how we have to present as being excellent all the time. It takes a lot. So no one's ever spoken about South Asian women. Also I look at my mum's generation and my grandmother's generation, and they're just like the most invisible women in this country. So, I just wanted to celebrate and put my experience into context and the reaction was amazing. Really amazing. It connected with a lot of women, and not just South Asian women, a lot of women generally.


    "What’s your approach to fashion?"

    I love clothes. And I'm really lucky because clothes form a big part of my work. Naturally, I am a very casual person, I love jeans. I'm very pared back, and I'm most comfortable when I'm relaxed. However, the older I'm getting, the more confident I'm becoming, bizarrely. So I've started stepping out in amazing dresses and I’m really enjoying myself. Because, why not? I think I felt like I've thought about other people far too much growing up, and now I'm not doing that anymore. I just can't be bothered to worry about what other people think about me. So I'm doing whatever the hell I want. And that's been reflected in the clothes I wear. So I like to have fun. If I feel comfortable in it, I'm going to wear it.

    I'm increasingly becoming more myself, and it's been a long process. But now I've done it. I've made mistakes on telly, like sometimes you think you should need to wear things because it's what's expected of you, or that's what everybody else is wearing. But now I'm just doing what I want.


    "For our shoot you wore some pieces from our collection. What are your favourite pieces from the MOP collection and why?"

    I'm wearing it! These jeans that I've got on are so comfortable and they are unbleached jeans, denim as raw, beautiful denim in its natural form. And this jumper I'm obsessed with. I feel so comfortable and so chic.

    I'm really into masculine and feminine energy, and I'm really exploring what that means because people always used to describe me as a tomboy when I was younger. But actually, I want to put all that to one side and say that women can embody both masculine and feminine and men can embody masculine and feminine. And I think what Amy does with clothes is really she empowers women, but allows you to feel ‘I'm so lucky’. I'm completely covered up, I feel somehow very powerful, very myself and very sexy, in jeans and a jumper. How has she done that? She's done it. I feel amazing. So whatever she does, just these little details. She's so clever. I feel chic.

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