The YouTuber talks to Instep about her online show and what its latest season has to offer.
he has taken us inside Ali Zafar’s house, had a quickfire chat with Brazilian footballer Kaka, driven along the streets of Islamabad with Momina Mustehsan, and conversed with the likes of Maya Ali, Ali Sethi, Ahmed Ali Butt, Gohar Rasheed, Ayeza Khan, and Faraz Manan, among many others.
Momina Sibtain is now giving us the third season of her YouTube venture – the fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, and travel channel Momina’s Mixed Plate – interviewing more celebrities in her chatty, bubbly style.
Instep caught up with Momina to find out more about her experiences with MMP and navigating the world of online content.
Instep: What inspired you to create Momina’s Mixed Plate?
Momina Sibtain: I think initially when I was starting and developing the show, I saw the market and there wasn’t anything like MMP that existed on YouTube or on television. The idea behind it was to create a light-hearted show that wasn’t crass, that was not driven by controversy. Over time it has evolved into something that is a lot more wholesome, I believe, and the conversations have definitely changed, but, again, the initial inspiration was to have something like Jimmy Fallon and Ellen, something along those lines, which is light-hearted and chill and more accessible, especially in English, because I thought that, especially with Pakistani content growing amongst the diaspora, no show in English existed, so this was one way of adding to that.
Instep: What sets MMP apart from other local celebrity/showbiz-focused YouTube channels?
MS: I think what sets it apart is that obviously the language is different; it’s not in Urdu, it’s more minglish and more English, so it is targeting a different audience altogether. But I think I’m a huge part of the show itself, and my personality is a big part of MMP. And while a lot more show can exist of the same format, my voice and my personality itself adds to the mix; I’m not trying to be conceited or self-absorbed, but I just think that it is what sets it apart – that I’m a part of it as well. Like, I’m an equal part of the show as my guest. And I enjoy having conversations and it is all very conversation driven so it’s not very pre-planned. I have a loose structure that I follow and as I’m growing, the show is growing, so let’s see where it goes.
Instep: How hard (or easy) is it to carve a niche for yourself online in an era of content overload and endless entertainment options?
MS: I believe with anything sustainable, it has to be very organically grown. I feel like one hit wonders or overnight successes don’t really amount to a lot in the long run. So yes, it’s not easy; I wouldn’t say it’s easy. But if you love something, you have to chip at it consistently. There are frustrating days and then there are great days and then there are days where it’s completely stagnant and then there are days when you see a decline and then there are days when you see an upward graph. So you have to kind of just be ok with that and also know that your self-worth or what you’re putting out there is not just based on the numbers that you’re seeing, so they’ll come – they will come at some point. Just keep evolving, see what the audience is enjoying, or if you really believe in a vision then believe in the vision and stick to your guns.
Momina’s Mixed Plate season 3 is a real labour of love. It is the season that I am most proud of. When I looked at my set, I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t know how and when I got to this place. It’s a season that’s very close to my heart. It shows you a lot of my evolution as a host, and season 4 will probably be even more evolved.
Instep: What can you tell us about MMP season 3?
MS: MMP season 3 is a real labour of love. It is the season that I am most proud of. When I looked at my set, I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t know how and when I got to this place where I am. It’s a season that’s very close to my heart. It shows you a lot of my evolution as a host and season 4 will probably be even more evolution of me and how the show evolves with me.
There’s a great line-up of guests. The conversations are fantastic. There are some conversations that when I took them to the editing board, I was very excited and proud that I was able to have these conversations very openly and very candidly. I think, also, as I’m maturing and growing older, I’m understanding just how to converse with people in a slightly different manner.
Instep: Out of all the people/celebrities you have interviewed so far, who has been your favourite? And why does this interview/experience stand out?
MS: There have been so many that I can’t really name one. We record back-to-back, so each episode is like, you’re in and out, in and out, in and out. My energy is running super high, and I’m in that consistent mode throughout. So I can’t really pick one favourite episode or one favourite celebrity, but if I just take season 3, my personal favourite episodes are … Mathira’s episodes are really good, Mansha Pasha and I have this wonderful conversation on marriage, Khalid Malik and I spoke about spirituality. I’m enjoying the conversations a lot more which are more heartfelt, which are more honest and authentic to someone’s true self, so I guess now that is what I’m enjoying more.
Instep: What about your least favourite interview to date? Was there ever a time when the conversation just didn’t go the way you would have hoped?
MS: Well, the least favourite would be … I think when I was starting out initially, there were one or two guests that … it was my shortcoming that I couldn’t connect with them. And I normally don’t have this issue but one or two guests I didn’t connect with, and I think they were also a bit camera shy, so the interviews didn’t come out that well. But I would not like to name people because it’s not something nice to say.
Instep: The YouTube comments section: do the negative comments ever get to you? How do you handle the criticism?
MS: Like with anything else in life, I think you have your days and I have my days as well. There are moments where I’ll ignore negative comments because there are a lot that come through on YouTube especially. But then there are days … I’m human, there are days where I’ll snap and I might be having a bad day and I just … you know you don’t want to hear [bad] things about you being written online, like you look bad or about your appearance or about your laugh. So yeah, it can be tough, but over time I’m growing a thicker skin, but again it’s a very human process; I don’t think there’s any one way of handling it. One is that don’t read them, but sometimes you do come across them and sometimes they will irk you and trigger you in different ways. I don’t think they’ll ever go away. In our country, people are just very miserable in their lives and they’re just very unhappy people. There’s just so much unhappiness around us. Yeah, there are days when they affect me and there are days when they don’t affect me at all. As I’m evolving and growing, the days where I actually snap are far less now; it’s like once in a blue moon now.