Interview with Nithiyia Rao, Mediacorp OLI 968 DJ on Balancing Motherhood and Career

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Nithiyia Rao’s journey in Singapore’s media industry is truly remarkable. It all began with her participation in the television beauty pageant “Miss Vasantham 2011,” hosted by Mediacorp Vasantham. Emerging as the 1st Runner Up among 12 contestants marked the start of her flourishing career. Her breakthrough moment arrived when she won the “Best Actress” award at Pradhana Vizha 2012 for her outstanding performance in a Vasantham drama series. Since then, she has portrayed over 40 roles across Tamil, English, and Malay productions, including films showcased at prestigious events like the Cannes Film Festival and the grand opening of the Capitol Theatre during SG50. Additionally, she has also demonstrated her versatility as a host in more than 20 programs and stage shows.

In 2017, Nithiyia ventured into commercial modeling, expanding her portfolio and collaborating with renowned brands in Singapore. Transitioning further in 2023, she embraced the role of a producer/presenter on Oli 968, propelling her career to new heights. With an unwavering commitment to delivering top-notch entertainment, Nithiyia aims to bring the best in entertainment for our listeners and viewers from the Indian community.  

Beyond the glitz and glamour of her professional life, Nithiyia finds her greatest fulfillment in being a devoted mother to a toddler. Balancing the demands of her career with the joys and challenges of parenthood, she represents the modern woman who adeptly navigates the delicate balance of work and family life.

Join us as we delve into Nithiyia’s inspiring journey, exploring her insights on parenting, multitasking, and the precious moments she shares with her family in this exclusive interview. Read on to find out more. 

Interview with Nithiyia Rao, Mediacorp OLI 968 DJ

1. Can you provide some insights into your background and your role at Mediacorp OLI 968? What responsibilities do you handle as a DJ at the station?

Nithiyia Rao: I began my journey in the media industry in 2011 through a beauty pageant titled ‘Miss Vasantham’ and finished as the 1st runner-up. Ever since then, I have been acting and hosting on screen for almost 12 years. I also won ‘Best Actress’ at Medicaorp’s Pradhana Vizha 2012 for my debut role in a long form drama series titled ‘Nijangal’.

I got my first opportunity to be guest DJ on radio for about 2 months in 2017 and I completely fell in love with the entire experience. I never knew I would enjoy being on-air as much as I loved being on screens. Unfortunately, there were no permanent openings with Mediacorp OLI 968 at the time. But, in 2023, the opportunity presented itself, and I became a full-time radio DJ.

As a DJ at Mediacorp OLI 968, I am responsible for planning and presenting on-air content creatively. I also produce social media videos with my co-DJ Vimala, where the two of us go on a hawker food hunt, together with popular celebrities. As a DJ, I will also represent my community at various cultural events, which I host. I also organise tentpole events such as the Mediacorp Oli 968’s Junior Presenter’s Workshop and Mother’s Day event, amongst others, with my fellow DJs. I love how we can explore and apply our skillset to multiple areas in this job.

2. Can you describe your parenting journey and the parenting style you adopt? How does it differ, if at all, from your husband, Ebi Shankara’s parenting style?

Nithiyia Rao: In our parenting journey, my husband plays the bad cop and I play the good cop. He is the disciplinarian, and I prefer a gentler approach. Sometimes we do have arguments, especially when he feels that I should be firm. My husband trusts me to make decisions and gives me the respect of being Sushanth’s mother.

3. How has your parenting style evolved over the years, particularly in light of your career and personal growth?

Nithiyia Rao: Before I joined Mediacorp Oli 968, I was working as a part time Speech and Drama trainer where I had the liberty to spend most of my time with Sushanth during his early years. Sushanth grew to be very attached to me, which was why it was challenging for me to pursue a full-time job back then.   

Now that Sushanth is turning 3, it is a lot easier to communicate and understand Sushanth’s wants and needs. And I must say that I am fortunate that I joined Mediacorp OLI 968 at a time when my son is able to understand whenever I need to step out to work. This would also not have been possible if I did not have my family’s support. I am grateful for my parents and in-laws who are always readily available to help us.

4. What were some significant challenges you faced in parenting your son, and how did you navigate through them?

Nithiyia Rao: Since Sushanth is attached to me, sometimes he does not take me seriously when I try to discipline him, so having a balance of being strict and friendly is a big challenge. To cope with this, I approached a few friends and mum support groups who share the same sentiments. I am trying some of the methods recommended by them, hopefully, one day I would be able to help Sushanth manage his emotions better.

5. As a working mother, how do you manage to balance your career with parenting responsibilities? Can you share some specific struggles you’ve encountered and how you overcame them?

Nithiyia Rao: This job has given me the flexibility to be there for my family and I am lucky to say that we have our family’s support whenever my husband and I need to be present at work. We try to work around our schedules, and we have been managing it well. At times, my husband forgoes his work or other plans if I need to be at work or events.

As parents the only thing we fear is when our child falls sick. One such incident took place and that really tested my strength. This was when my son, husband and helper were having covid-positive for the 2nd time, and I had to take care of helper and son as my husband quarantined himself at my in-law’s place.

During this trying time, I was also co-producing a radio drama. Because of this, I had to come up with a plan which would allow me to spend the day taking care of Sushanth and my helper, and work during his afternoon nap and bedtime. There were a few times where I had to go in to the station at night and work till wee hours. Thankfully I managed to submit the radio drama in time, without compromising on my responsibilities as a mother and employer.

6. What advice or tips would you offer to our readers who are working mothers facing similar challenges in juggling their careers and family responsibilities?

Nithiyia Rao: Some mothers may not have the family support like I do, but there are many organisations, support groups and childcare options to seek help from. Mom guilt is real but that does not mean that you cannot take a break from work and family responsibilities. Trust your spouse to handle the household and baby duties. When you feel happy, you spread happiness to everyone around you so keep your mental health in check.

For mothers who also focus on their careers, remember that you can be replaced at work, but you cannot be replaced at home. Your family needs you, especially your children, so cherish the moments with your little ones before they grow up and become independent.

7. Can you walk us through a typical weekend with your family? What are some of your go-to or favourite activities to do together?

Nithiyia Rao: A typical weekend will consist of us getting up early to make breakfast together or heading to the temple, on some weekends. We usually spend the early afternoon playing with our son before he takes his nap. During that time, my husband and I will either catch up on a series that we have missed or get in a short nap. Evenings are when my in laws or parents come over to visit and spend time together. Once that is done and our son is in bed, my husband and I usually go on mini dinner dates, take long drives or just watch our favourite movies.

8. How do you ensure quality family time amidst busy schedules and commitments?

Nithiyia Rao: It does get a little tough. My husband’s schedule on the weekends gets tricky when he is in a play. But for most weekends, we make it a point to commit to at least one activity that we decide on. Sometimes it can just be being home, spending time with our son, catching up with each other on the couch, talking about our week and the goings in our lives.

9. Have there been any memorable moments or experiences during your parenting journey that have shaped your approach to family life?

Nithiyia Rao: I remember the times where my husband and I could not understand why Sushanth would cry non-stop when he was just a 2-month-old baby. We felt helpless and vented our frustrations at each other. But today those experiences have made us stronger and we feel much more confident with our parenting approach. I have learnt to respect and allow my husband to parent our son instead of dictating on what he should be doing.

10. Lastly, what are your goals and aspirations, both personally and professionally, moving forward? How do you envision balancing these aspirations with your roles as a parent and a professional?

Nithiyia Rao: I have gotten the biggest compliment from my family that I am the best mother for Sushanth and nothing beats that. I just want to continue to give the best for my son, providing him with everything that is necessary without having to think or struggle.

I have not been able to leave my family, especially my son, to go on a long holiday with my friends or solo because of mom guilt. One day, I will come out of it and fulfil my wish.

Professionally, I will continue to work harder as I strive to be the best radio presenter. I have achieved a lot in acting on screen, but radio is a work in progress, and I know I will get there one day! 

Nithiyia Rao’s journey exemplifies the delicate balance between pursuing one’s professional aspirations and nurturing a fulfilling family life. Through candid reflections on her parenting journey and the challenges she’s faced along the way, Nithiyia offers invaluable insights and advice to working mothers navigating similar paths. Her unwavering commitment to her son, Sushanth and family, and her determination to excel in her career underscore the essence of modern motherhood—a harmonious blend of love, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication. As Nithiyia continues to inspire audiences with her talent and charisma, her story serves as a testament to the transformative power of balance, resilience, and unwavering faith in one’s abilities. In the dynamic tapestry of life, Nithiyia Rao stands as a beacon of strength, courage, and unwavering determination, a true testament to the remarkable journey of a working mother and media professional. Find out more about Nithiyia Rao at

All images credit to Nithiyia Rao, Mediacorp OLI 968 DJ


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