Since her victory in the final of The Great British Bake Off, the most-watched TV show in 2015 with 15 million viewers, Nadiya Hussain’s career has grown exponentially. Her first cookbook, Nadiya’s Kitchen, was released this past June, she writes a cooking column for the Times, and made the Queen’s 90th birthday cake. She will also present an upcoming two-part series for the BBC called The Chronicles of Nadiya, which is described as “an exuberant food-inspired journey from Nadiya’s birthplace in Luton to her family village in the north-east of Bangladesh,” as well as judging the new Junior Bake Off.
However, all this success can not mask the horrible racial abuse she suffers nearly on a daily basis. Yesterday, in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, she spoke out the anti-Islam phobia to which she falls victim.
“It sounds really silly [but] it feels like that’s become a part of my life now– I expect it,” she said. “I expect to be shoved or pushed or verbally abused because it happens, it’s happened for years.”
Nadiya, who is now 31, is more determined than ever to become a role model for Muslim women thanks to her three children who she strives to inspire.
Hussain said: “I love being British and I love living here, this is my home, and it always will be regardless of all the other things that define me. This is my home, and I want my kids to be proud of that and I don’t want them to grow up with a chip on their shoulder, so I live as positively as I can.”
After winning she spoke to The Guardian about the active support she received from her fans who dubbed themselves Nadiyators.
“It does feel nice, because essentially it’s a baking show, but that tent is also a symbol of British society today – and 12 of us from very different backgrounds went in. I knew I represented different people – stay-at-home mums, Muslims, the [British] Bangladeshi community … [and] for each and every bit of me someone has said: ‘You have done a really good job for us; she seems like a good mum, she’s done well for Muslims and the Bengalis are proud.”
She went on to discuss why her success meant so much to her and her family.
“Growing up, I didn’t see that many Muslims on TV and we don’t see many now. But essentially I am a mother, and that’s the job I know best. For me, it’s important to instil in my children that they can do whatever they like, that no matter what their religion and colour, they can achieve what they want through hard work. And it’s nice to be able to do the same for a wider audience. If I have – amazing.”
However, she has learnt over the years how to deal with online hate and cyber bullying, telling the panellists of Loose Women, ‘And if anything, I proved to myself that I can have the confidence not to care what people think.”
Desert Island Discs featuring Nadiya Hussain was on BBC Radio 4 at 11:15 BST and will then be available online.
Images featured are from The Times and Hello Magaine.