Friday, January 24

Los Angeles Unveiled: Rooted in music, reality TV star-turned-DJ remains steadfast in entertainment

Sara Tariq, a Texas native, began her entertainment career on an MTV reality show, but she is now living in Los Angeles as an up-and-coming DJ with credits as a writer under her belt. She’s written for magazines such as Billboard, Complex and Vibe. (Courtesy of Sara Tariq)

Sara Tariq said she made her television debut as the first Pakistani woman on an MTV reality show.

The Texas native said many believe that her first show in 2019 – “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club” – is where she got her start in the world of media. But Tariq said she’s been paving herself a career in the entertainment industry for years, writing for music magazines such as Billboard, Complex and Vibe. Currently, she is stationed at sbe entertainment group, securing venues for artists, among fulfilling other tasks. But in her spare time, Tariq has also launched her career as a DJ, performing throughout Los Angeles and New York.

Tariq’s initial foray into music journalism began when she was a kid obsessed with Lil Wayne and D12. Tariq said music was the gateway that ignited her love for all things entertainment. But her determination to break into Hollywood came only after realizing so few people with her background were getting opportunities to succeed in the industry.

“When I would see people on TV who were working in entertainment, I was like, ‘Where are the Pakistani people?’” Tariq said. “’Where are the girls that look like me?’”

[Related: Los Angeles Unveiled: LMU art student uses honest, affirmative lens to photograph South Asian community]

But despite her love for the arts, Tariq faced a roadblock early on in her journey – her traditional Pakistani and Muslim father. Tariq applied to college as a dental student, but said it didn’t take long for her to realize that wasn’t the right path for her, and she eventually switched her major to communication. Her father subsequently cut her off financially, and though Tariq said she still loves her dad, their values don’t always align. Even so, she knew exploring her passions was the right decision.

As her love for music continued into college, she started attending more concerts and festivals, like Ultra Music Festival in Miami. Her passion for the arts led her to apply as a writer for a small music magazine based in Boston, which she said launched her career in the music industry.

Through the small publication, Tariq said publicists began reaching out to her, and she started interviewing celebrities like David Guetta. She landed her first cover story at 19 doing a feature on artist Candyland for DJ Magazine. But although she was happy with all the success she gained in Dallas, she knew relocating to Los Angeles would allow for more opportunities.

“When you’re writing articles … and you’re seeing the likes, the comments and people interacting with your stories, … it’s like a different kind of high and you want to keep going,” Tariq said. “I decided … I want to move to a bigger city.”

However, Tariq said her initial experience in LA was disappointing. She worked for a boutique PR company that represented Australian artists and had to hound other writers to report on musicians rather than writing herself.

[Related: Student inspires others by remixing male-dominated DJ sphere]

Things started to turn around once she got a job for sbe, doing hospitality and talent buying. Tariq said this job allows her to collaborate with others in the industry, connecting the dots to help plan concerts and other events.

Tariq said making the move to performing music as a DJ felt natural to her, crediting YouTube for providing her with the basic skills, such as figuring out the DJ turntable. Now, she performs for a variety of audiences, from Desi gatherings in LA, where she blasts Bollywood music, to a club in New York, where the set list is heavy electronic and pop music.

Along with pursuing DJing, Tariq is looking to continue her career as a reporter, and her time in LA has provided opportunities that wouldn’t be available in her hometown, she said.

However, when she first moved to Southern California, Tariq said she often flew back to Dallas because she felt depressed and isolated in the city. Tariq said her mom encouraged her to stay, which Tariq said helped her develop a thick skin. Despite the rocky start, Tariq said LA has since become a good home base.

“I’ve always found that I have a place in my heart for challenges,” Tariq said. “I love overcoming them, it’s something that keeps me going. And LA was a challenge.”

Tariq’s perseverance is something that content creator and frequent collaborator Jason Mante said he appreciates about her. Specifically, it’s Tariq’s confidence that helps her approach people and weave their narratives, which Mante said makes her an adept storyteller. He said he believes her deep knowledge of DJ culture and the club scene is also a valuable asset for music journalism.

“(Tariq is) important to look out for because of her talent and her ability to lead the room and to tell stories,” Mante said. “She’s a powerhouse.”

This personable quality led Tariq to land her latest gig at LA Weekly, co-hosting the Weekly Podcast with Brian Calle, the publisher of the magazine. He originally brought Tariq onto the podcast to speak about her experience on “Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club.” Their chemistry was so great, Calle said, he invited her to be a co-host and credits Tariq for helping set the conversational tone for their podcast.

“(Tariq’s) collaborative spirit and tenacity really set her apart because she’s one of the people who if you call and say, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?’ her answer is yes,” Calle said. “She’ll find a way to make it work.”

As her career evolves, she said she will always proudly identify as Pakistani and Muslim, despite knowing some people may disagree with her professional choices. Though Tariq said she has turned down certain career offers such as appearing on dating television shows for religious and family reasons, she also maintains that faith is intrinsically personal.

“Because I’m the oldest (child) in my family, there was a lot of pressure and expectations, but I know that I’m living my life for myself,” Tariq said.

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