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From being a Chicago-based attorney and founding his law firm, Jayaraman Law, to making his way onto Netflix's hit show Indian Matchmaking, Shekar Jayaraman explains he stayed true to his most authentic self throughout his journey.
Shekar is globally recognized for being the Tamil representation in an all-South Asian cast on the show. Despite breaking television barriers, Shekar's journey to create a positive generational impact began before his time there.
I had the opportunity to interview Shekar, where we discussed his upbringing, what inspired him to pursue law, and his experience on Indian Matchmaking, which I'll explore further in this article. Keep reading as Shekar explains how leading an authentic life can lead to success.
Shekar's parents immigrated from Tamil Nadu, India, to the United States in the 1970s, and he was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. After moving around the Rocky Mountain regions, Shekar finally settled in Chicago to establish a career in law.
During the interview, I asked Shekar about his experience growing up as a South Asian minority in a predominantly Western society. He acknowledged facing several challenges but assimilated well while maintaining his cultural identity, traditions, and customs. Shekar revealed that the aftermath of 9/11 was challenging for him as he was mistakenly associated with it due to his ethnicity. However, he did not harbor any resentment towards the racial comments. Instead, he learned about the prejudice that arises from the inability to distinguish between different types of South Asians.
Shekar stated that his experiences with racial challenges motivated him to become passionate about helping people and advocating for those "who lack the means to do so for themselves." He also embraced the values his parents instilled in him, such as the belief that "the more you give, the more you'll receive" and the importance of not focusing on material possessions or superficial things. Instead, he strives to positively impact the world and leave it a better place than he found it. He regards this as a testament to the teachings he received from his parents.
As I learned about Shekar's background, I asked him about his experience on Indian Matchmaking. Shekar shared that he joined the show at 32-years-old after facing some setbacks on dating apps. When the opportunity arose, he thought, "Why not? What's the worst that could happen?" However, he didn't anticipate what would come from his appearance in seasons one and two of the show.
Shekar, being the first cast member of season one of the reality TV show, did not know what to expect. Consequently, he approached the experience with an open mind and heart. Initially, he thought very few people would watch the show. However, since its release in 2020, the show has become a popular reality TV series on Netflix. This realization shocked Shekar as he learned how large the Tamil and South Asian diaspora is. He said, "Being a Tamil American, I relate to more than just Indians. I think I relate to Sri Lankan Tamil people, Tamil people from South Africa, and Malaysia. We're a vast diaspora in ourselves, and I think many Tamilians were happy to see Tamil people on television."
I asked Shekar what he learned from his experience, to which he replied that he learned a lot about himself and is proud to represent his Tamil identity internationally. Shekar believes in the importance of solidarity and advocates for the growth and success of the South Asian community. Shekar sees himself as a natural activist and finds pleasure in being part of a movement that helps the South Asian community grow and succeed. He believes the next generation pushes boundaries and paves the way for new pathways.
The pressure to marry and have children is a common experience for women in the South Asian community, regardless of where they live. I asked Shekar if he also faces this pressure as a South Asian man and for his advice on how to deal with it. He said he's fortunate not to receive this pressure from his parents but has faced it from people on the internet and relatives; however, he doesn't let it affect him and advises others not to listen to such pressures because it's no one's business. What matters most is to prioritize one's own happiness and mental well-being.
Focus on being your best self and being happy, and everything else will fall into place. If you want to meet your person, you must be in love with yourself. You have to be balanced internally to be a companion for someone else. That person also needs to be internally balanced if they’re going to be the right companion for you. Finding your partner is a major decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
I asked Shekar to shed light on the pros and cons of modern dating trends. He explains the importance of practicing patience when dating someone to understand their character, morals, ethics, and values instead of dismissing them solely based on their appearance. If given a chance to get to know someone kind and compassionate, Shekar believes one could overlook appearances.
If you've made it this far in the blog, you’re probably wondering, "Did Indojaa ask him about Nadia?" And the answer is yes. There are no spoilers here for those who haven't watched the show, but for those who have, Shekar said, "I wouldn't have changed how anything went down. I did what I needed to do in the way I best knew how to do it, and I think that's all you could do. You can be your best, honest, and most authentic self, and I believe that's who I was."
I asked Shekar how he felt about the phone call scene on the bridge, to which he said it was a genuine and unscripted depiction of how he felt. As relatable as that moment was to viewers, in the words of Shekar, “Everything happens for a reason, and the right thing happens at the right time. You have to trust the Universe.”
Shekar confirmed that he would not be appearing in season three of Indian Matchmaking, which is available to stream on Netflix now. Nevertheless, he expressed satisfaction in being one of the first Tamils to feature in an all-South Asian cast on a globally broadcasted television series. He aspires that his involvement in the show will lead to greater representation of the Tamil community in future productions. Shekar also offered a final piece of guidance for attaining success: to remain authentic. "Be honest, be true, and be your most authentic self, and you will accomplish whatever it is you want to achieve if you're passionate and honest about what you're doing."