It’s hard to define the work the Kiran Rai does. 

From starring in a web series, to creating short films, to hosting her own podcast, Rai, also known as KayRay, has never been able to keep herself bound to one creative venture. 

Through one look at the content she produces and the projects she undertakes, it is clear Rai works hard at bringing various immigrant  experiences and voices to the forefront of her work, whether it be about mental health or other cultural taboos. 

As her most recent venture, Rai has launched a creative agency alongside her best friend and fellow creative mind Baljit Singh as a way to push for better representation. 

As two South Asian women trying to participate and excel in the creative world, they knew something needed to change. From their vision, “The Kollective” was born. 

An excerpt from their website reads:

 “Under all the “glitz and glamour” came the harsh realities of how difficult it can be to find your seat at the table. We’ve faced our own challenges while working with agencies who misrepresented or tokenized us, having a lack of financial security and support - all while trying to get our foot in a door that always seems to close on us.”

In response to their experiences, Singh and Rai started a creative agency with the  mission to uplift the voices of misrepresented and underrepresented artists. 

This mission is on brand for Rai, who has always worked at getting the voices of her own experiences into the world through  her art.

As a millennial South Asian woman based out of Toronto, Rai carved out a niche audience for her work, which slowly grew over time. As South Asians make up the largest racialized group in Canada, seeing somebody from the community expressing her reality caught some eyes. 

It’s not everyday in our community that we speak about suicide, depression or anything slightly related to mental health. It is also not everyday that we get to talk about the LGBTQ community or the intricacies of sexuality. It is not everyday that we acknowledge the fact that women in our community actually have a sex life. 

Rai has used her platform as a podcaster and overall creator to address all of these matters. In doing so she has helped create a safe space for young South Asian people to feel heard. 

In her past short films she has explored topics like domestic violence, generational gaps in immigrant households and mental health. She’s also taken more of a lighthearted approach to the brown girl experience when she teamed up with director Rakhi Mutta for the popular web series Anarkali (think Insecure gone South Asian). 

But Rai’s storytelling doesn’t end with fictional narratives. Thanks to her podcast Cha da Cup with KayRay, she has also spoken to celebrities, influencers and politicians, all  while being completely transparent about herself with her audience. From talking with political figures like Jagmeet Singh to speaking to designers like Manni Jassal, Rai pushes for her platform to be versatile and engaging.

What is clear is that Rai has never been here to give a flavourless account of a South Asian millennial woman. She is not here to give us Emily in Paris type of content. She is here to show us the unfiltered reality of being a woman of colour but in a way that’s beautiful, that’s entertaining and that resonates with the soul. 

Now with a team of six creative minds and with a focus on helping artists and brands, there is no telling what kind of stories will continue to be told and what kind of stories will be elevated by The Kollective.

 The 5X Mainstage is just days away, featuring Avan Jogia, ALOK, Nav Banga (Browngirllifts), Sangtar, Sandy Lion, KayRay, Pallavi Sharda, BFunk, and special guests sharing some real talk about their journeys, about their creative expression, and about how they got there.

Have you ever wanted to know what it takes to level up in your creative field? We got to pick the brains of these incredible headliners, to bring you knowledge, real experience, and inspiration. 

Register for the Mainstage here

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5X Press is a forum for opinions, conversations, & experiences, powered by South Asian youth. The views expressed here are not representative of those of 5X Festival.