Ramona Arena

Shirley Setia

With a close to three million following on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, Shirley Setia spoke to us to inspire millions of aspiring girls through her tremendously stimulating and unbelievably motivational journey.

“No one in my family sings… ! When I told my dad that this is what I wanted to do his first reaction was… “Tu paagal ho gayi hai kya?!”

Born in Daman and brought up in New Zealand, she is one of the youngest and most popular sensations in the music industry today. Unaware of her popularity, this young lasse from Auckland is a living example of the fact that following your dreams with undeterred intentions will always be fruitful one fine day. And for her millions of fans, Shirley has finally arrived!

With biggies like Arijit Singh and Adam Gilchrist recognizing and appreciating her voice, she’s on the way to pave the journey of her dreams.

In a candid conversation with Shirley, what I learnt is that the young gun is filled with immense gratitude and love towards her fan following. She really didn’t realize when things turned over and she became one of the millennial recognized celebrities on digital media.

“I used to reply back four years ago, I still reply back today. I still read all the comments no matter how many. I feel like they (fans) give me so much of their time and their love, so this is like me giving back!”


“No one in my family sings. No one, has anything to do with this industry.” While studying full time, Shirley uploaded her songs. She would sing English songs, Hindi songs, whatever she felt like. In spite of having a full time engagement she did not give up her dream, of doing what she liked doing.

The Social Media Rockstar…!

“Because I’m so active on social media, I see things happen everyday! I always engage in my audience.”

“One of the videos was re-tweeted by Adam Gilchrist. And it was one of my fans which brought that to my attention!”

“When things like these happen, it’s really encouraging, and it’s really nice.”, she squeaks with a gleam in her eyes!

A huge Arijit Singh fan, Shirley says that gestures on social media such as the singer tweeting her back and thanking her for wishing him on his birthday worked as a dose of encouragement and assured that she was on the right track!

How Old Is She…? 401!

“Every Sunday I would work. I learnt how to shoot and edit my own videos. It’s not about how young or old you are, it’s how much effort you’re putting in doing what you love to do”

She says, “After my Tum Hi Ho video went viral, so many people were like oh you’re so young… and there were so many free advices…”

So she says that there is this phenomenon where YouTube video views would get stuck on 301. So if you get a number of views simultaneously at one time, the YouTube views would freeze at 301. “So I was like you know what every year I’m going to say I’m 401 years old! ; I’m just stuck at 401”

What she truly believed in is that it really didn’t matter how old or young one is. “If you really have a dream go out there and follow it. A number shouldn’t stop you from doing what you’re doing.”

Shirley On Life & It’s Uncertainties

“I love to dance. In school, we would dance on Bollywood numbers. I always used to love Bollywood songs. And then I started singing and uploading online… That time I didn’t even know that I would be doing this professionally some day!”

She shifted to Mumbai sometime back, and confidently said that she hadn’t decided where she would be five years from today. Like a passionate person she fluently adds, as if it was just there within her, that her objective is to make people smile. And if that is happening through her videos, she would continue to do it. Everything else seemed secondary to her dream.

“Today I’m here but tomorrow I don’t know where I would be. I’m ready to go wherever life takes me”

Inspired by Dia Mirza, Shirley says that,

“No matter what stage you are at in your life, you will always have that inner voice tell you, when you really have to do something.”

How Life Changed..

“When I’m on stage, that’s my time with the people. I’m with them and nowhere else for those 90 minutes. It’s like meditating.”

For Shirley her fans mean everything to her. Completely unnerved about the Papparazzi, she said, “I can’t do anything about it. But it’s nice. You can still live your life the way you live it.”

On being questioned about her age, friends, AND all the intervention that comes along with the popularity, Shirley claimed that she has always been very honest with her fans. “There’s already so much negativity in the world. We just need to forget about all that. If I can add to people’s smiles, then why not!”

Every strong mother has a successful daughter behind her..

“Today, she is a qualified interior designer!”

On starting her YouTube video channel, Shirley discovered that there was one person in the family who had sacrificed her ambitions and dreams for the wellbeing of her children.

“I’m sure, many women can relate to her.”

When she found out that her mother always wanted to study interior designing, she encouraged her, to pursue her studies further. Shirley would sit down with her mother, explaining her about the education system in New Zealand. Proudly, she stated that women have an innate talent to multitask. And because of which, neither she nor her brother ever felt that their mother wasn’t giving them enough time, while she was studying.

Not only is this young exuberant girl passionate about her work, but also about life and it’s meaning. Simple at heart she ended our conversation on a wonderful note saying “when you really want to do something, it’ll be in your gut. And when you don’t, you’ll just find excuses.”

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