Thursday, August 27

Sangita Patel: The ET Canada Momterview

In my latest Momterview I chat with Sangita Patel: Entertainment Reporter with ET Canada, wife (her husband Samir - she calls him Sam - is Chief of Radiology at Guelph General Hospital) and mom (daughters Ava and Shyla are eight and five and a half).

Here Sangita opens up about her engineering background, growing up with immigrant parents, her inspirational fitness routines, and her favourite celebrity interviews!





You have a degree in electrical engineering – which really impressed Tom Cruise! Why did you decide on that area of study?

I went into engineering partly because I loved math and science. They were my favourite courses in high school. I think I was trying to prove to myself that I could be as good as any male out there. It was actually my uncle who said that females could not be engineers, and I think that’s the reason I did it. I didn’t even know what engineering was all about, but I loved math and science and that’s where guys in those courses were going, so I thought why don’t I give it a try? I loved doing a lot of hands-on work with my dad – I loved to fix cars and VCRs, I fixed my Commodore 64, so it’s part of who I was, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until my last two years of high school when I decided I want to be an engineer.

How did you then make the shift to television?

I had a passion for television. I was in a pageant when I was 17 – don’t tell anybody! – and they asked me to be a spokesperson for them, and that opened the doors to what television was all about and I loved it! I loved being in front of the camera and had such a blast doing it, so there was a passion for it, but I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. Could I make money? Would I be happy? So I decided to apply for journalism and engineering, and got first year scholarships for both programs, and sat down and chatted with my dad about what to do. He asked, “Where do you think you’re going to make a living?”, and he was right that engineering was the way to go, there were so many struggling journalists out there. But I still had my passion! I volunteered at Rogers, I did film festivals, I worked for a show called Toronto Living, I did another show as well for ATM, which is an Asian Television Network, and I had the opportunity to host and do my own questions. I still did that while I worked as an engineer, and I continued to work as an engineer for five years until I got my P.Eng, which is my Professional Engineering designation, and things started growing from there. When I started working at Rogers and doing Toronto Living, they just opened so many doors, and then I was picked up at The Weather Network, and from there I was picked up at CityTV so things have just been rolling – knock on wood! It’s interesting how things came together, it’s not the regular story of struggling. I didn’t really have to struggle in this business, it was more a case of being in the right place at the right time.




You were born in Canada shortly after your parents and older siblings moved here from India. What do you think was the impact of being born into a family new to the country?

I look at my parents, even now to this day, and think about how hard they worked to get to Canada and give this life to us, and that keeps me really grounded and humble. My mom was on an assembly line, my dad was a welder, and he worked his butt off to give us what we wanted and I appreciate that to this day. I make the effort every week to go see my parents, all of us do, and I love hearing the stories – even the same ones over and over – about the impact that was made by them coming from India to Canada. I really appreciate having immigrant parents. The value of the dollar, the value of hard work – that keeps me going. I thank my parents all the time for bringing us here. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now. I’m a woman, and I believe I’m a strong woman able to do anything I want if I put my mind to it. I thank my parents a lot for that.

What are the most important ways you’re passing your Indian heritage on to your girls?

Okay, so I suck at that! I love Indian food? I’m passing that on to them! I blame my parents because they spoke a lot of broken Gujarati - that's where they’re from, Gujarat - and they spoke a lot of English with it, so I didn’t really learn the language. However, the culture part I try to introduce to my girls, like the Bollywood world, I’ve even put them in a class for dancing. My husband and I speak a lot of English, just once in a while we speak the dialect but not very much. They know their grandparents are from India and they love it, they love the culture so we’re trying to pass it on, but I’m not doing the greatest job when it comes to that!





You share a lot on social media about your workouts and fitness routines. Has that always been so important to you, or did it come from having kids or being on television?

I started working out at a younger age and stopped, because it wasn’t as important to me. At that age, you can eat whatever you want, and you don't gain the weight! Then I had my second kid, and my body changed - I was crouching down all the time, I was weak all the time, I couldn’t pick up my kids, and I thought, how did this happen? It can’t be aging, it must be that something’s wrong with me. I decided I needed to make a change and start watching out for myself, because no one else is going to do that for me. My attitude just switched. I went to CrossFit one day and I started doing weights and I thought, this is what I need to do! I’m not old, I just need to start working on myself. 

I think as a mother we all tend to forget about ourselves and take care of our kids and our families and we become one of the lower priorities, and the truth of it is, if you’re not happy, no one else is going to be happy. I learned that, and that’s when I started doing fitness and it changed my life. I’m so much happier now, my attitude is so much better in terms of my outlook and realizing that I have to start loving myself because this is who I am, especially being in my 30s. These fitness videos came about because a while back women were asking me, “How are you staying fit? What are you doing?” and I decided to use social media and it started picking up. People were following Fitness Tuesday and we started doing a segment and people were responding to it. It really was to motivate other mothers, but now it’s to motivate anybody to try anything. My videos show some things that are a little bit ‘out there’, to show you can do it.  If I can do it, you can do it!

You were named to Hello! Canada’s 50 Most Beautiful People List - 

I know – you’re surprised as much as I am!

Not at all! You’re gorgeous! But what would you say are your most beautiful qualities, on the outside and the inside?

One of the things I’ve always been told is that you are happy if you make someone else happy, so I love smiling. That’s partly why I don’t do serious news, because what a difference it makes when you smile at someone! Even if they’re having a bad day, just that little gesture makes such a difference, so I would say my smile is something that people enjoy seeing, especially on social media, people make remarks about it, and it is a genuine smile. It’s not a fake smile – I have my wrinkles, and I’m going to keep those wrinkles and wear them with pride! I like making situations lighter. I don’t like conflict, so I like making light of things, entertaining people and making them happy.





You often have to travel for your work on ET Canada. What are your best tips for keeping connected with family while you’re away?

Oh, social media! I miss my kids, especially on the second day – I don’t know what it is about that second day! We FaceTime, we Skype, we chat on the phone, and now my kids have their own email address so they’ve started texting me which is such a great feeling! I’m able to sing them a song before bed, and just making that effort to connect throughout the day when I’m traveling makes such a difference. They’re partly used to it, they know mom’s gone away for a while and she’ll be back, so I let them sleep in my bed with dad and they get all these perks when I’m gone, so they’re happy about that. One thing I try to do when I travel somewhere is always bring them back a small token, and it helps them to know that I’m always thinking about them.

Have you had any favourite celebrity interviews so far?

Oh my gosh, so many! The one thing about me being new to Entertainment Tonight Canada – I’ve been here for two and a half, three years – is that I get excited about anybody and everybody, and I hope the audience feels that when they watch my interviews. I walk into a room and I think that person is my best friend, and there have been some great interviews recently. I mean, Tom Cruise – I had no idea it was going to be that great, and for him to remember me? {Sangita interviewed Tom at the world premiere of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in Vienna, and when he was interviewed by Sangita’s colleague days later at the Canadian premiere, he asked about her!} I thought, oh you’re my favourite now! And George Clooney, making me coffee the second time around, we just had this great chemistry, and you know when you have good chemistry with someone. Julia Roberts...Helen Mirren just surprised me. Jon Stewart last year – I’m a huge fan, and to sit down with a man that smart! I was very nervous to sit with him, and to meet him was an honour. I’d say those are some of my top ones!

Anyone on your wish list?

Oprah Winfrey. Angelina Jolie. Women who make a difference. I just want to hear their stories. And for some reason, Tiger Woods. I don’t know why but I find him so fascinating. There’s something about him…I would love to talk to him too.




Besides your family, how would you finish the sentence, “This mom loves…”?

This mom loves cake. Cake, cake, cake all the time. I would have cake any time. I don’t respect my diet.
This mom loves CrossFit.
This mom loves to smile.
This mom loves to drive. I love cars.
This mom loves coconut oil. I use that all the time.
This mom loves to cook, loves to eat, loves pizza – a lot of food-related, isn’t it?
This mom loves to inspire and to make people laugh.
This mom loves to entertain.





Thanks for the conversation, Sangita! ET Canada airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m. on Global, and you can find Sangita Patel on Twitter and Instagram.


1 comments:

StephanieLynn said...

WOW! This is so inspiring! It is a great interview. I love Sangita Patel and this blog. Great Work!