NSB Logo Vivek Shraya Vivek Shraya

Vivek Shraya

Speaker Featured

Toronto, ON, Canada

Artist & Educator on Self-Expression, Identity and Inclusivity

Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, tv and film. She is a Canadian Screen Award winner and Polaris Music Prize nominee. Her best-selling book I’m Afraid of Men was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel.” She is also the founder of the award-winning publishing imprint VS. Books, which supports emerging BIPOC writers. Vivek has been a brand ambassador for MAC Cosmetics and Pantene. She is a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation, and is currently adapting her debut play, How to Fail as a Popstar, as a digital series with CBC.

Keynote Speeches

Virtual Keynotes & Webinars
Contact us for more information about this speaker & their virtual presentations. Click here for some of the most popular formats for virtual events.
Leadership: You Have More Power Than You Think

Having experienced and witnessed communities grapple with cancel culture, burnout, and inequality, Vivek Shraya continues to evolve her ideas of leadership to continue to take risks and apply the out-of-the-box thinking necessary for creating change and opportunity. In this presentation, Vivek will share personal stories on how she went from being a bullied teen to a leader in her communities, and the lessons and principles she picked up along the way. As someone who is actively involved in giving back and supporting her communities, Vivek will share the importance of caring for those around you and will inspire you to recognize the power we all have to create change.

Reimagining the Workplace: Supporting Diverse Needs At Work

The value of diversity & inclusion in the workplace is well established, but how has it changed the way we work? In this presentation, Vivek will help organizations reimagine what the workplace can look like when we proactively design practices and environments that make all team members feel safe and supported. After all, as one onboarding specialist shared with Vivek, “If we want to hire diverse people, we need to be able to support diverse needs.”

Inspired by her own experience as an educator, community leader, and safe space coordinator, Vivek shares meaningful and practical steps to help make your whole team feel safe and supported at work. Key takeaways include:

  • Challenging bias during the hiring process
  • Supporting trans & gender non-conforming staff
  • Importance of clear policies and processes around anti-discrimination, anti-racism, sexual harassment prevention, etc.
Mental Health: How Boundaries Impact Our Wellness

Through art and storytelling, Vivek shares her relationship to mental health & how setting boundaries with herself and others has been an essential part of her self-care. Challenging the idea of “wellness” as a static destination, Vivek highlights connections with physical health, identity & oppression, and the importance of accepting an ongoing relationship & struggle with mental health.

With practical takeaways that audiences can apply in their own lives, Vivek shares how boundaries can have an essential role in caring for mental health. Whether it’s learning to say no more often, taking breaks from our online lives, or rethinking the “how are you” catch up with a friend, Vivek will illustrate how small changes can make a big impact on our mental health.

Education: Queering the Classroom

Queer and gender creative youth remain largely invisible in the classroom in both the curriculum and in the texts themselves. This often perpetuates feelings of isolation for queer youth. In this presentation, Vivek discusses her own experiences of invisibility in school as inspiration for creating art that features gender creative protagonists and the impact this work has had in the classroom. This will feature a reading from several of her acclaimed books including “The Boy & the Bindi” and “God Loves Hair.” This presentation will leave educators with informed perspectives on the necessity of queering their own classrooms.


What I Love About Being Queer

As a response to the dominant narratives of tragedy and hardship associated with being queer, Vivek created a film called “What I LOVE about being QUEER” where participants share the reasons why they also celebrate their queerness. This presentation will feature a screening of this film and a broader discussion about the film’s genesis, with an emphasis on need for conversations about queer celebration in the face of ongoing homophobia and transphobia. The presentation will be followed by an interactive component where queer audience members will be given an opportunity to be photographed and write down what they love about being queer, which will then become part of the ongoing multidisciplinary project.


On Fear and Failure

Vivek is a multi-media artist known for her work on issues of gender, change, and identity.

Her value proposition lies in her willingness to share her experience, which she explores in her book & talks “How to Fail as a Popstar;” her debut theatrical work that is a reflection on the power of pop culture, dreams, disappointments, and self-determination. It’s an honest and hopeful depiction of the search to find one’s authentic voice. It will also be available as a new series on CBC GEM Fall 2023!

For a corporate leadership audience, Shraya’s insights on failure can be valuable in encouraging innovation and risk-taking within an organization.

Key insights:

  • Embrace failure as a natural part of the creative process: failure is inevitable for anyone pursuing a creative endeavor, and encourages individuals and organizations to view failure as an opportunity for growth and learning. Keep showing up!
  • Adopt a zen approach to fear and failure: take those feelings of disappointment and honour them, instead of trying to look on the bright side, or use failure as a stepping stone to other things. And learn to life with fear: rather than worrying about conquering fear, recognize that living requires learning to co-exist with it.
  • Empower employees to take risks: create a culture that empowers employees to take risks, experiment, and innovate. By recognizing and rewarding effort and experimentation, rather than just success, leaders can foster a more innovative and creative workplace.
In Conversation With Vivek Shraya

An opportunity to ask Vivek anything, she will share from her experience as a multidisciplinary artist for over 20 years, and as brown, queer, trans person of colour. From college to corporate audiences, Vivek shares experiences that will impact any group on themes of allyship/coming out, developing your creative practice, navigating arts industries, creating inclusive communities and workplaces & more.

Often the most popular part of any of her events, Vivek delivers raw and honest answers to questions like:

  • How do we make our workplace more inclusive?
  • How can we celebrate and support diversity in our workplace in an authentic way (and that is not just tokenizing)?
  • How can I be a better ally?
  • What does community mean for you?
  • How do you manage fear?
  • How have you managed failing in your work?
  • How did you come out to your parents/family?
  • How do you support someone who is coming out?
  • How did you get published?
  • How do you organize your schedule to do multiple jobs / tasks

Audience reviews:

  • Vivek was absolutely incredible. She’s a dream to work with, met with us in advance and took our thoughts and feedback on how the theme translated to her talk. The audience was in love with her – and of course they were, she’s a star!! - Director, Member Engagement & Education at Ontario Library Association

Speaker Biography

Bold, cultural insight” – On Vivek Shraya’s work by Booklist

Vivek Shraya is a multidisciplinary artist who tackles topics such as community, diversity, identity, leadership, failure, and pop culture in her talks, her artwork and her music.  Her work How to Fail as a PopStar, has become a book, a play, and released in 2023 as a tv series on CBC Gem.   Her best-selling book, I’m Afraid of Men, was her­ald­ed by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel, ” and Elliott Page praised it as “A deeply generous and honest gift to the world.” In 2023, she also released her visual album – “Baby, You’re Projecting” with Mint Records.

In 2021, she was invited to give the Kreisel Lecture where she addressed themes including the importance of showing up, the value of reflection, of communicating with intention and care, the vast extent of wellness, and more.  She was also selected as a representative with Pantene for their campaigns on the power of self expression. 

Her work, The Subtweet, explores online living, and the promise & peril of being seen, described by Lambda Literary as “riveting…vividly centered in the here and now.”

Vivek was featured on The Globe and Mail’s Best Dressed list, was a Pride Toronto Grand Marshal, and chosen by M.A.C Cosmetics to represent their Originals campaign, celebrating nine Canadians who embrace their values of inclusivity, artistry and a love of high-performing makeup.

Her South-Asian heritage and her ‘aims to educate and inspire audiences about topics including mental health, queerness, and inclusion,’ was featured by Vogue India, as one of five fearless Indian LGBTQI+ personalities to follow on Instagram.

A Polaris Music Prize nominee, she is one half of the music duo Too Attached and her album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part‑Time Woman, was included in  CBC ’s list of Best Canadian Albums of 2017.  She’s also currently a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation.

She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.  She’s the author of more than 10 books and is a seven-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, who’s also earned honours from The Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Publishing Triangle.  She’s founded VS books, and in 2021, is offering a  mentorship and publishing opportunity for an Indigenous or Black writer, or a writer of colour, over the age of 50 living in Canada.

Her body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art, theatre, spoken word, and film.  Vivek’s talks are candid, thoughtful and artistic on creating change, learning from ‘failure’, managing your wellbeing, encouraging psychological safety, and supporting community. 

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