Sharon and Ankur - The Villain edit

Sharon says attempts being made to discredit her are “disgusting”

Australian lawyer turned actor of an Indian descent Sharon Johal, says the level people have stooped to discredit her is “gross”. Having earlier written about the racism in an article in Stellar, Sharon now has opened up about the toll of her appearance on The Block she’s been given the ‘villain edit’ on the renovating series – the Block being telecast on Channel 9.

But, she says she never expected to be the target of a hate campaign, reports the Herald Sun.

She said it was disappointing that accusations had resurfaced from her lawyer past over a decade ago.

“I’ve gone from The Block villain to The Block survivor,’’ Johal said.

Her husband Ankur Dogra and Sharon (Johal)  have been the subject of repeated criticism about their work ethic.

“These guys go to the next level digging up dirt every day and it always ends up going to some racial undertones. A few weeks there around Are You OK? Day my family and friends were really concerned for me. It’s pretty gross and disgusting the lengths people will go to destroy you. Why go to these narratives when it’s a reality building show?

“I’m pretty media savvy and it’s crushed me.”

Sharon and husband Ankur Dogra were at the centre of cheating allegations on site in Gisborne.

According to Sharon, that was not an accurate reflection of what transpired.

The husband and wife duo have attracted social media trolling and abuse.

“People can see through it and see who we are,’’ she said.

“Early on it was set up as a scandal and everyone knows it wasn’t, but unfortunately people believe what they see. Ankur and I said is it worth it for our mental health and our reputations but we’re the couple who doesn’t give up. At times I’ve definitely regretted making the choice to go on and this is the first time they put an Indian couple on the show and it broke some barriers when it comes to diversity.

“We know we’ve played a big part in the ratings and time heals and we’ll see how the experience plays out. Ours is the best house, we worked so hard and I’m feeling confident ahead of the auction.”

Sharon has been a star on Australian television as part of the world famous series – Neighbours. Writing in Stellar article, Sharon revealed she faced racism  for years in her acting career.

Also read: Hindu Australians experienced highest rates of discrimination – a study

“I have been looked at differently for as long as I can remember. There was no-one else like me at school.

“I was criticised for the way I spoke English, I wasn’t invited to parties, I was the last one picked for activities and boys didn’t ask me out because they were scared of being judged for being with the “brown” girl.

”After a decade of heartbreak, I lost hope and gave up on my acting dream.”

Sharon says she is a third generation Australian of Indian heritage yet racism has been a constant part of her life.

“As a child it was hard to understand. I tried to talk to my parents, but they told me to stay quiet to fit in” Sharon had written in that piece.

Sharon’s parents were not the only ones, it is true of more than majority of migrant parents.

Having spoken to numerous people from the community, no matter what vocation they have chosen, it is doubly difficult for people of colour to get even half their due credit.

“It is often discussed amongst us that we have to do 200 per cent to get even 50 per cent of our due credit”, Dr Anjalee De Silva, a lawyer, community leader and City of Monash councillor once said speaking to Bharat Times.

In this age of social media, although it is very convenient for the trolls to pour vitriol on anyone they target, but those on the receiving end should use the same tools to respond. There will be the usual bottlenecks, the so-called “teething” issues, but one has to hang in there long enough to be accepted as Australian.

It is a two-way education, which we must all impart and imbibe.

In one way, Sharon Johal is not alone, every migrant has to fight this battle till diversity is accepted by majority of Australians.

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