How Roshanie goes beyond the DJ booth to make change within her communities.
What does it take to become influential in the work that you do? What does being a genuine influencer actually mean? If you’re an artist or creative, does that automatically give you influence?
Becoming an artist or creative entrepreneur can often mean taking on a platform of visibility and a voice that has the power to make intentional ripples. Seriously Influential is a series that will reveal how artists and creatives across Canada are making an impact in their community using their platform as a stage to address social issues that our community faces everyday.
— Allisa Lim, Writer
When you think of a DJ, you probably imagine someone playing tunes for you in a loud club, or promoting their most recent mix on SoundCloud. And although these things are true for Brampton-based DJ Sam “Roshanie” Dharmasena, she’s so much more than that. In addition to all the fire tracks she spins during events, on her radio shows, and, in her mixes, Roshanie puts in countless hours giving back to the art and music communities with her voice as an educator and innovator.
Roshanie’s DJ crate is full of everything from dancehall to hip hop to global club music, and if you live in the GTA, there’s a good chance you’ve caught her at clubs and festivals (virtual now!) alongside a list of notable events including: opening for Ja Rule and Ashanti, Venus Fest, Digital Arts Festival and more. But to get the full picture of who she really is, take a quick search on Instagram and look up @roshanie__ you will find IG highlights that amplify various social issues such as Black Lives Matter, gender equity, LGBTQ2+ rights, the education system, government funding for the arts, and everything in between. She is definitely not one to be afraid of using her voice beyond the DJ booth. She raises her voice in times of need on behalf of our community by writing and calling out Toronto and Brampton politicians, and most recently Roshanie wrote to the Peel Police Services Board regarding the passing of body cameras as a solution to police brutality. Check it out here.
Roshanie has used her expertise in music to curate programs across the GTA towards advancing gender equity, and has taken full advantage of her Instagram page, her show on ISO Radio, virtual events through The City of Brampton, and her initiative Solidarity in Sound (an educational initiative founded to advance gender equity in the music industry) to impact and influence change.
I chatted with Roshanie about what it means to be a genuine influencer, and how she, as a creative, is using her platform to make an impact on the arts and music communities across Canada.
Allisa: What does being a genuine influencer mean to you?
Roshanie: I try to make a positive impact with the visibility that I have. Community is at the core of everything that I do. With that, I am consistent with presenting myself as an approachable and multi-dimensional person that is transparent with the natural ups and downs of life. Social media can positively be used to lead a conversation or be used to take the opportunity to step back and be open to being educated. If I’m passionate about a social cause but don’t feel knowledgeable enough to share my own commentary, I’ll use my platform to direct folks to thought leaders in that space rather than try to speak on it myself.
A: What kind of social issues matter to you? Have you used your social platforms to talk about these issues?
R: Through my work for Solidarity in Sound and ISO Radio, I work towards advancing gender equity through workshops and meaningful conversations. Oppression, and ultimately social movements, are interconnected. I do my best to stay informed on issues beyond gender equity. Solidarity in Sound (SIS) is an educational initiative that aims to advance gender equity in the music industry. Our offline and online presence works towards connecting community to individuals and opportunities that will progress their career in music.
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve been working with the City of Brampton to develop and curate their “Culture Calls” programming. This was a series of online events created to build community virtually. In this role, I co-hosted a really amazing panel on community building (you can watch it here!) and I was very intentional with the artists I booked as well. I was especially moved to see Tremayne and Reiko Rieffe bring attention to police brutality (in Canada and abroad) during their virtual performances.
A: What is your end goal for your awareness campaigns?
R: Ultimately, I hope I can leave my communities a bit better than when I joined them. Whether it’s the music industry, or my hometown Brampton. These are spaces that have helped me grow and encourage me to give back and celebrate them.
I’m a firm believer that the revolution doesn’t need everyone to be a leader. So I don’t want the message to be that everyone should create a Solidarity in Sound type project! There are so many roles to play.
A: If not through starting their own initiative or leading a movement, what are other ways people can support and contribute to change?
R: I suggest doing simple gestures for your friends who are spearheading movements. They could look like: ordering Uber Eats for them if they are having an exhausting day, or offering to babysit so that others can participate at a protest or do community organizing work. Again, there are many ways to contribute to the movement and make a ripple effect [even if you’re not at the front of the pack].
A: Aside from Solidarity in Sound, what are some other movements you’re involved in?
R: I think it’s important to pass the mic as well, [so] summer 2020, I started an IG Live series called “Tea with Roshanie” in response to the Black Lives Matter movement to discuss systemic racism. Over the years, I have listened to anti-racism leaders to assist me in amplifying their voices and improve my efforts in advocacy projects. Creatively, I hosted weekly interviews with colleagues, discussing various new topics every week. Our discussions ranged from systemic racism in scientific communities to defunding the police.
The music community across Canada is so broad and pure with talent and motivation. Taking on a platform can be diversified and maneuvered into different movements. It is so inspiring to see a young creative like Roshanie using her voice and visibility to make meaningful change.
After chatting with Roshanie, I learned that being a genuine influencer means creating a positive impact with the visibility you have, no matter the size or scope of your platform. What hit me most was Roshanie’s effort to continuously strive to learn, unlearn, and relearn not only for herself but for those in her community as well, and that consistent change should happen both online and offline.
She also paints social media apps such as Instagram as a positive vessel to reach the community and speak up on social issues. Rather than showcasing vanity, the shiny things and a desirable life, she has inspired me to utilize social media platforms in a strategic and empowering way.
Talking with Roshanie has also made me realize the importance of supporting influencers that are making an effort to amplify their voices and platform louder than superficial profiles.
Written by Allisa Lim
Follow Allisa @allisa.lim
Allisa Lim is a multi-faceted individual who isn’t afraid to push her limits. She loves to dive into new hobbies the second they tickle her interest. An event coordinator by day, Production Director of Fashion Forward, Coffee Enthusiast for Its A Coffee Club and now Writer for Serious Betty, she’s ready to unravel the true talent behind Canada’s growing creative scene.