IWD: Mum and daughter are challenging stereotypes through dance

Honey and Sarina Uppal want to see more Indian girls represented in dance competitions

Honey and Sarina Uppal want to see more Indian girls represented in dance competitions - Credit: Honey Uppal

A Hornchurch mother and daughter are challenging stereotypes about Indian women in the creative industry.

Honey Uppal, who owns Tandoori Lounge in Hornchurch alongside husband Sukh Uppal, has encouraged the couple's daughter Sarina to follow her dreams of singing, dancing and acting.

Later this year, the 11-year-old will be representing Essex in the grand final of the Miss Teen Great Britain.

Sarina told the Recorder: "I feel great about being in the finals, because it's something that Indian girls don't normally get to do.

"I want to show other girls in our culture that we can do things like this and work with big brands, and represent our culture.

"Also, it's an opportunity to make friends and make me feel confident."

Honey says supports Sarina to take part in dance competitions

Honey says she supports Sarina to take part in dance competitions - Credit: Honey Uppal

Sarina has attended Emery Stage School in Elm Park since she was five, dancing competitively as well as performing musical theatre.

She learns all forms of dance, including ballet, contemporary and tap.

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"It's really hard to be an Asian woman in those spaces," said mum Honey.

"If you look around a dance competition, there are only a handful of Asian faces.

"Sarina is changing how Indians are represented. I never force her, she is in charge of her own timetable."

"I don't know how she fits it all in," Honey added.

"But this is what she wants to do, and I'll do everything I can to support her.

"I had a huge love of dance growing up in south London, but wasn't able to fulfil that dream.

"So I promised I would do everything to ensure my own daughter can. No matter how busy I am, she is my priority."

Honey and Sukh Uppal run Tandoori Lounge in Hornchurch

Honey and Sukh Uppal run Tandoori Lounge in Hornchurch - Credit: Honey Uppal

Sarina is represented by Bonnie and Betty agency, and has featured in modelling campaigns and as an extra on television and Netflix.

Seeing her parents start their own award-winning restaurant made the Year 7 pupil determined to achieve her own goals.

"My mum inspired me to do my best, because I see her running around trying to fit everything in - the restaurant, my dance life, rehearsals, the housework, my brother and my dad.

"She still manages to get everything done and support me in everything I want to do," she said.

Honey and Sarina Uppal want to see more Asian women and girls represented in dance competitions

Sarina Uppal said her mum inspired her to follow her dreams - Credit: Honey Uppal

Honey added: "She sees how hard we work as parents to fulfil their dreams, and my kids have seen us running around like crazy and getting overtired.

"This meant they learned from a young age to be responsible, and grew up quicker than their peers.

"They know they have to support us in the house - I taught them from a young age to do laundry and the tidying up.

"It's really paid off, and they understand that to achieve what they want to do they have to work hard."

Prior to opening the restaurant, Honey was a full-time carer for her mother-in-law, Poli, who she called her own inspiration.

Poli arrived in the UK from India in around 1968 as a teenager, and lived in Plaistow with her husband.

"She came to this country with practically nothing," Honey said.

"But they did did everything they could to give their kids a good life, and that's how we got to where we are today.

"It's inspirational. That's why we set up Tandoori Lounge in her memory."

Poli Uppal moved to the UK from India in the 1960s

Poli Uppal moved to the UK from India in the 1960s - Credit: Honey Uppal

Honey's own parents ran a clothing business, which she said taught her the value of hard work.

"I do it for my kids," she added. "You have to do everything you can to make their lives better than your own."

Crucial to achieving that goal is having a "support system", which Honey feels she has through her husband and business partner, as well as through the rest of her family and friends.

Sarina has been dancing since she was five

Sarina has been dancing since she was five - Credit: Honey Uppal