Nadia Manzoor

Interview by Allison Daroie

Nadia Manzoor is one of the most talented woman I've ever met! She has a one woman show where she discusses encounters that are often left behind closed doors and plays over 20 characters. She's a serious change maker and certainly one to keep tabs on! Producer, storyteller, dancer and so much more. So much talent and inspiration - always blown away. 

AD: Please explain who you are and what you do.
NM: I'm a storyteller. I write and perform and produce stories about truths that are rarely discussed and in ways that are larger than life and smaller than the heartbeat of a hummingbird.

AD: Where are you from originally?
NM: I was born in Chicago and raised in London. My parents are Pakistani and my heart is universal. 

AD: Where did your motivation to pursue your passion originate?
NM: My life! I grew up in a world of internal contradictions, and was often conflicted about who I was and who I was supposed to be. I worked through my existential questions through writing, and thinking, and questioning social norms, and eventually all these questions pushed my writing into other forms--improv, street dance, social work. In a grand, synergistic mashup, I started creating my own one-woman show Burq Off!. Through it I continue to discover the power of storytelling in creating important conversations and change.

AD: What is a typical day like for you?
NM: A typical day involves exercise and a lot of creative work, like writing, rehearsals, and research. As a content creator, much of my work involves discovering what else is out there and finding meaningful ways to engage with what's happening in the world at any given moment. I also work closely with my team, my production company Paprika Productions, to organize events and find new ways to engage our community and fans.

AD: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome to get where you are today?
NM: My own internal contradictions. I am constantly engaging with how to embody and live with my multifaceted and sometimes conflictual sense of self. 

AD: What was your proudest moment?
NM: When my father surprised me after my first show by presenting me with flowers on stage. It was so special to feel the pride of someone who I've made a show about bringing shame to.

AD: What does being successful mean to you?
NM: Sharing my story and having it heard by people all over the world. Having that story inspire others to tell their stories and change their lives and the lives of the people around them.

AD: What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust yourself, and trust that life has a plan and that everything that you care about and think about, is eventually going to lead to something powerful. Trust that what you are here to do is already in you.

AD: How do you unwind?
NM: Cooking, walking around Brooklyn with my beau, biking, and dreaming.

AD: What’s your typical fitness routine?
NM: I am totally committed to Pilates and also do a lot of strength training. Some yoga, lots of stretching, strong cardio, essentially: balance. 

AD: What are your daily beauty rituals?
NM: Sleep, lemon water every morning, and creating a peaceful environment at home.

AD: What’s a hidden gem in your area? (It can be a cafe, store, studio, etc.)
NM: L'Albero dei Gelati, all locally sourced foods, and amazing gluten free desserts! 

AD: What’s the top song on your playlist right now?                    
NM: Matisyahu -  AYEKA (teach me to love) 

AD: Who is the most inspiring person in your area and why?
NM: My mother. Ammi. She lived every day for others, and I continue to hold myself to that standard as much as I can.

AD: How do versatile pieces make your life easier?
NM: I love versatility because essentially, it's adaptability. And if you're adaptable, you can be ready for anything. Improv has taught me to roll with the punches, so anything that helps me do that is great. 

AD: Is there any last comment you would like to leave us with?
NM: YES! Check out my web series Shugs&Fats for some solid laughs. Live boldly, don't be afraid to ask questions that challenge the status quo. Take space and time in your life to slow down so you can begin to hear what your body and spirit is trying to communicate to you. Trust yourself.