Stories of Men

Senedd's first woman of color speaking about under-representation of ethnic minorities in politics

Not taking “no” for an answer: The Welsh Senedd’s first woman of colour

 “I’m not the type of person who judges people by their skin colour. So for someone to judge me by mine was just quite patronising, and, quite honestly, soul-destroying at the same time. And I wanted to never experience that feeling again.”

Not taking “no” for an answer: The Welsh Senedd’s first woman of colour

This episode of Our Voices presents the story of Natasha Asgar, the Welsh Senedd’s first woman of colour. She talks passionately about the value of perseverance and how she has had to use this quality to overcome discrimination and prejudice.

A lifelong inspiration

It would seem that Natasha’s greatest inspiration growing up was her father, Mohammad Asgar. The motivation to work hard and the desire to represent ethnic minorities in politics are qualities Natasha says she inherited from him. She tells us that her father would say to her “There’s nothing on this planet that you can’t achieve and you can’t have if you work hard enough for it.” For Natasha, becoming the Senedd’s first woman of colour would prove this.

Representing ethnic minorities in politics

Another thing that Natasha’s father said to her was that “ everyone in life should have a plan A, plan B [and] plan C.” He demonstrated this belief by becoming a qualified accountant, a qualified pilot and, finally, an elected politician. During his initial political campaigns, people would often tell him “you people will never achieve anything in politics”. 

But he showed he was able to overcome racism in Wales when he became the first person from an ethnic minority background to be elected to the Welsh Parliament. He would remain there for 13 years until his unfortunate passing in 2020. But, by this time, he had left “a big mark on a lot of people’s lives.” He had also blazed a trail for ethnic minorities in politics.

Media ambitions

Despite the strong influence Natasha’s father has had on her, her initial ambition was not to follow in his career footsteps. Instead, she attempted to pursue a career in media. She began her career with local TV and radio shows but, in 2010, she decided that she was ready to make the step up to national television. “For me, the biggest dream… was to work for the biggest organisation in the world, the BBC.”

Targeting the big time

Natasha initially went down the traditional route of applying for a BBC position. She sent off CVs when openings were advertised but she was not having much success. As a result, she decided to try something different:

“I actually went online and I paid a company to make these helium balloons with my face on it. And I said, your next big star is the one and only Natasha Asghar. And, on the back of it, I had my phone number [and] my website.” Clearly the BBC appreciated such initiative as, soon after, she would receive a call from the organisation in order to invite her to an interview. “I cannot tell you how excited I was, I was buzzing! … I thought: this is it.” 

First experiences of racism

During the interview, everything began as well as could be imagined. However, as the interview was drawing to a close, the interviewer gave some unexpected advice: “He said, maybe it might be worthwhile for you to work in some of your own channels.” This was deeply shocking for Natasha. At first she didn’t know what to make of the interviewer’s comments but then the reality of what he was saying began to become apparent.

 “I know people from your background have channels like ZTV, PTV and these are all ethnic minority channels, which quite a lot of people are aware of. So why don’t you try and do something with one of those channels and see how it goes. And maybe then we can perhaps talk about where you’re at in life.” 

It was clear that Natasha was being rejected but she hadn’t been given a reason why, except, perhaps, one: “He’s not saying my presenting is bad. So clearly, there’s something else and, naturally, for me, it felt incredibly racist.”

 The shock of the experience led to Natasha calling her father in tears. Up until that point, she had never experienced racism.

 “I’m not the type of person who judges people by their skin colour. So for someone to judge me by mine was just quite patronising, and, quite honestly, soul-destroying at the same time. And I wanted to never experience that feeling again.”

Making a transition

Natasha continued working in local television and radio. But her father came to her one day with some sage advice “Darling, I swear to you, get into politics, and you mark my words, the same BBC that said this to you will be begging you for interviews… Please just get into politics and I promise you, you will change the world.” The strength of her father’s conviction clearly had a strong impact on Natasha and her fledgling career in politics began.

A difficult beginning

But politics has not been an easy road for her. Talking about her involvement in the campaign for a European Parliamentary seat, Natasha describes how she was with a host of other candidates who were all caucasian. When handing out flyers to one man and his wife, they immediately returned the flyers to her saying “No thank you.” The force and aggression of the rejection was clearly not just based on party lines: “ it was just very much like, don’t want to see you, don’t want to talk to you, don’t want your leaflet, you can just go away and out of my face.” 

This was not the only instance when people returned her flyers. Her new career was showing her how difficult it can be for ethnic minorities in politics. “I think, for me, that was the biggest time and the only time I’d felt racism in Wales in my life. And that was only when I got into politics.”

Becoming the Senedd’s first woman of colour

Irrespective of the barriers faced, Natasha eventually achieved her ambitions. She was elected as the Senedd’s first woman of colour on her sixth campaign. As her father predicted, journalists from all quarters wanted a piece of her but it was down to Natasha herself to establish the appropriate narrative.

 “I was the one who had to tell the journalists, I am actually the Senedd’s first woman of colour… So I almost had to spoon feed them the story that came out because otherwise they would have just said “member-of-the-Senedd-who’s-passed-away’s-daughter has won seat”. That would have been the headline.”

Representing the people

The only downside to Natasha’s success was that her father wasn’t there to see it but she knows just how he would’ve felt. “I think he would have been incredibly proud. I mean, for him, it was his ultimate dream.”

 By becoming Senedd’s first woman of colour, she has helped to increase the presence of ethnic minorities in politics but now it’s Natasha’s goal to focus on representing all the people as best as she can, for her, there is no room for racism.

 “I’d like to be seen by others as a politician who’s here to represent everybody, not just those from the ethnic minorities, but from all walks of life and all backgrounds.”

For more stories like Natasha’s, check out ‘Our Voices’ on Apple Podcasts.

Not taking “no” for an answer: The Welsh Senedd’s first woman of colour

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.