As a broadcast journalist, she was told to change her name to be more marketable. Deciding then to keep her name and stay true to herself, Nineveh Dinha has now started her own online magazine, all on her own terms.
Name: Nineveh Dinha
Occupation: Editor in Chief of yoU Mag. Subscribe for free at www.ninevehdinha.com.
Why and how did you get started in journalism? My start in broadcast journalism was serendipitous in many ways. I always had a passion for writing since a young age, but I wasn't quite sure what direction that would lead me in. After writing for my college newspaper, I was convinced my adoration for words would take me into the world of public relations. I applied for an internship at a local television station in San Francisco, California. The PR director immediately asked me if I had ever considered a career in television news. The rest is history. After shadowing a political news reporter for a day, I was hooked on the art of story telling. I decided news was for me because I believed I could make a meaningful difference in the world.
You recently left your position as a broadcast journalist. Can you tell us why you made this decision? My parents are originally from Iraq. They both envisioned living the American Dream - that meant a life of complete freedom. Working in news for a decade gave me a lot of insight into what it means to have a job ("just over broke"). As passionate as I was about storytelling and news reporting, it felt like I could never get ahead. My father is an entrepreneur and so is my husband, John. After years in the business I became burnt out, but more importantly I desired something more. To be frank, I've never been good at being told what to do and how to do it. I've been rebellious since a child and now I realize why. My wanderlust is to live an extraordinary life and leave a legacy behind. I want to challenge the status quo. I left my TV news job behind in search of something bigger. Last year I launched an online women's magazine focused on empowerment. It really fulfills my soul. I think whatever you do in life, it's important to feel fulfilled. You get one chance at this beautiful blessing and I don't want to squander it.
You grew up in Sweden. Would you ever go back to live there? Visit? Yes, I was born in Linköping. I have plans to finally go back to visit my family next summer. However, I wouldn't go back to live there. The United States is the land of opportunity. Why would anyone ever want to leave a place where you can be and do anything?
What is one memory of Sweden you can share? I always enjoyed sledding down the snowy hills of Sweden. It's a favorite childhood memory.
You have said that you plan to have children. As someone who does not have a "common" first name (like me!), do you plan to give your children Assyrian names? Of course my children will have Assyrian names! My husband is American and his first name will be given to our first son, family tradition, however, I plan to give our son a strong middle name like Ashur! John Ashur ...that has a good ring to it, right? I also want to give my daughter an Assyrian name, and teach them the importance of my history, culture and people.
You’re not ashamed, like some in the public eye, to call yourself Assyrian. Why is that? I don't know why anyone would be ashamed to be Assyrian. We are the cradle of civilization and should be proud and honored about our heritage. Sadly, there are so few of us left. I think being given the name "Nineveh" has forced me to embrace who I am and where I come from. The name is so unique that it's always a conversation starter. I'm thankful I get to share who I am with people who ask.
I’m sure you’re well aware of what Assyrians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria are experiencing at the hands of ISIS. What are your thoughts about what is happening? I feel helpless watching from the sidelines. I know there's a U.S. Congressional Assyrian Caucus, but I'm curious [about] how much clout they actually have to make meaningful changes. I've had conversations with political heavyweights [about] what's happening in the Middle East. How it's being handled comes down to the leader of the free world. Many believe a change in leadership is the only chance Assyrians have to reclaim their land again. Unfortunately by the time any action is taken, if at all, thousands of lives will continue to be lost. It's a sad reality and I pray for my people. They deserve peace and prosperity.
On your Facebook page it says that you would like to visit Assyrians in the Middle East and make a documentary about their plight. Any updates about this? Oh yes. I had big dreams of working in broadcast news and traveling to film a documentary about the plight of Assyrians. Unfortunately it's not as easy as I thought it would be. I still daydream about this goal, and absolutely want to accomplish the documentary someday. Stay tuned.
When someone asks what an Assyrian is, how do you respond? I say we are the cradle of civilization, from ancient Babylonian times. I tell them, today we speak a derivative Aramaic which is the language Jesus spoke. If there's still some confusion I tell them, "Remember Jonah and the Whale? Yeah, that's me."
What’s something that terrifies you? Public speaking, but I do it anyway because I think it's important to challenge yourself and move past your fears to accomplish great things.
What piece of advice do you have for young people? Read. Read as many books as you can. Get educated outside of the school system too. Knowledge is the new money. Challenge conventional wisdom! Get outside of your comfort zone. Be open to opportunities and always remember you become the five people you surround yourself with the most.
What’s your favorite book and why? I have a lot of favorites. A great book I read recently is "Thrive" by Arianna Huffington. I'm currently reading "Unfair Advantage" by Robert Kiyosaki. Next up on my list is "The Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy. What you read, what you feed your brain, is very powerful. You become your thoughts. Don't fill the empty space between your ears with junk.
What’s the best compliment you have ever received? I have received many compliments over the years, especially working in broadcast news, but the best compliment came after I left my career when a woman called me "inspiring." I recently received an email from someone who told me I changed her life. I was blown away and what it taught me was that we are all inspiring people every day without knowing it. How we act, who we become and how we treat people is very important.
Any final thoughts? We all have special gifts. It's up to us to find out what our gift is and then share it with the world.
Portions of this interview have been edited.