What power lies in a story?

On pushing Representation to the forefront

Sonia Sidhu
Sep 15, 2018 · 8 min read

The Simpsons are banned

My parents never let me watch The Simpsons growing up. I was largely left out of most references to the worlds favourite dysfunctional cartoon family — and would only occasionally drop a Lisa Simpson saxophone joke here and there as my sole quip. In fact, it wasn’t even until my last couple of years in high school that I learned about the character of Apu.




“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Is it reasonable to say, that the opportunities that entered my brain as a young elementary school patron, or even in high school, were a reflection of what I thought was possible? Hindsight may very well be 20/20, but if our imaginations are unavoidably influenced and shaped by the imagery presented in the classroom, in the media, and in everyday life: you’re bound to develop some subconscious bias as well, despite what colour pigment your skin happens to be. After all, when I would think of greatness and of limitless possibility, only a select few of the people who looked like me would have a seat at the table.

Growing up the default successful entrepreneurs I knew looked like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs, the default movie stars looked like Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock, the default tech tycoons looked like Mark Zuckerburg and Evan Spiegel, and the default world leaders looked like Paul Martin and George Bush (yikes, eh?).

So you see this pattern, the pattern of one story being represented time and time again as the benchmark for success, can bleed into the psyche of young kids when they need to hear is that they too, are seen, are valid, and are important. The tragedy is this: if in the story of your life, a person who looks like you is not the mind’s default of ultimate success, then we certainly do have a problem.


Who’s on your home-team?

In my home, however, I had what I’d describe as a tribe of role models to look to — in my older sister, in my mom, in my dad, and in my grandmother, and of course my entire extended family; a squad of support and the epitome of success lived under the same roof — and for that I’m truly privileged. Upon reflecting, I’ve come to understand how pivotal my “home team” was in shaping my ambition, and never allowed me to doubt my own ability. So whenever I would waver on whether I was worthy of going for a certain job, or applying for a school, or putting myself out there to do something terrifying— I had a choir of people who would practically sing to me “Why not you?

Representation Matters.

A diverse, and representative group of people are inherently more likely to succeed.

However, we’ve all heard the statistics:

  • Only 10% of graduate degrees earned by women are in STEM fields, compared to 24% of graduate degrees earned by men
  • According to a 2017 study, roughly 30 percent of speaking roles in film were given to people of colour (13.6 percent black, 5.7 percent Asian, 3.1 percent Hispanic, and 7 percent other)

A brilliant blockbuster success like Black Panther exists at the same time as the Black Lives Matter movement; Crazy Rich Asians has filled theatres this summer, yet Asian Americans are now face the most income inequality in America; Wonder Woman has shattered perceptions of what a superhero star looks like, yet Time’s Up was still needed.

To me “diversity” is sometimes a word we hear too often these days and when we’re talking about diversity — it’s not a box to check, it is a reality that should be deeply felt and held and valued by all of us: black, white, brown, mixed, and everything in between.

What We Represent

All of this leads to one thing: My friend Tricia Jose and I are starting WE REPRESENT.

We believe that “If you can see it, you can be it.”

We Represent creates powerful storytelling and leadership opportunities to shift the mindset of young people. We do this through our annual creative competition, in-class workshops, and powerful mentorship.

How might we change the mindset of our young people so that every board room, every movie, every government, and so on — represents the world we all live in?

Through WE REPRESENT, we’re tackling a representation and a pipeline problem. We’re not only telling diverse stories of real role models, we are making young people aware of the opportunities available to them, and in turn shaping what all of our futures look like. We strive to create a generation where young kids look in the mirror and don’t want to be anyone but themselves.

  1. Submit/Nominate a School
  2. Become a Corporate Partner

A future where world leaders, game-changing CEO’s, inspirational athletes, the faces on our big and small screens all look like the world I walk through every day: That’s what WE REPRESENT.

More to come,

We Represent

We Represent creates powerful storytelling and leadership opportunities to shift the mindset of young women in Canada. We do this through our annual creative competition, in-class workshops, and mentorship.

Sonia Sidhu

Written by

We Represent

We Represent creates powerful storytelling and leadership opportunities to shift the mindset of young women in Canada. We do this through our annual creative competition, in-class workshops, and mentorship.