At just 29 years old, reporter Ginella Massa, made history when she agreed to fill in for the late anchor on Toronto’s CityNews. Massa is said to be the first hijab-wearing woman to anchor for a major Canadian newscast. Despite being told by a co-worker that a woman in hijab will never make an appearance on air because “it’s just too distracting” Massa has, since her anchoring debut, began a revolution for all Muslim women.
Though she was born in Panama, Massa was raised in Toronto where her family converted to Islam. After graduating with a B.A. degree in Communication Studies from York University, she continued her education at Seneca College where she received a diploma in Broadcast Journalism. After landing her first internship at a newsroom, Massa claims she “fell in love with telling stories, discovered the adrenaline rush of breaking news, and loved that every day was challenging and different.” She realized that she could excel at this and says “that’s what pushed me to work really hard, in the hopes that someone would see past my hijab and give me a chance to show my skills.”
However, it is quite surprising that it’s the year 2016, and Ginella Massa is the first to be recognized. This just goes to show how underrepresented our current media outlets are and how problematic they can be. She claims, “it’s really exciting to be recognized as the first. It’s also pretty sad that it’s taken this long, especially in a city as diverse as Toronto and a country as multicultural as Canada. And it’s not reflected in our newsroom, on our newscast. You wouldn’t think that we are as diverse as we are if you were to look at our nightly newscast.” With her appearance on the late CityNews, Massa is beginning a whole new chapter for the face of television.
While this may only be a small step towards progress, it’s a starting point. Awareness of the need of more diversification within the media is steadily growing. In the modern day world, “it is more important than ever for Muslim women especially” according to Massa, that women in hijab are seen as valuable contributors to society. Massa is the face for many Muslim girls who rarely get to see people that look like them in the media. Massa wants them to know that it is possible; “I think our society is realizing that hijab doesn’t have to be this scary, mysterious thing. I hope that I’m changing a perception about Muslim women, just by doing my job well every day. I hope this can open the door for other women to succeed in this industry, and for people to give them a chance. I want to show people that a piece of cloth doesn’t stop me from doing my job well.”