Television and radio presenter, talk show host, author, journalist, columnist and VJ; Zarayda Groenhart has done it all. Dutch television viewers know her from shows such as Try Before You Die, where she performed feats of daring, including being walked on by an elephant, working as a cycle courier in New York and getting her body painted. It was her audacity that got her into television in the first place.
In 2005, she read that a new MTV channel The Box was looking for young talent. Groenhart then took to the streets to interview young people and developed a programme idea. She then kept on emailing the management until she got invited for a job interview. And the rest, as they say, is history.
This was just the start of Groenhart’s media career. After a few years at MTV, she set her sights on Dutch television network BNN. Again, she deliberately avoided sending in the usual CV and application letter, but instead made a pilot for a television show. To Groenhart, this makes perfect sense. “Nobody is going to come up to you and say ‘OMG, you’re just the person we’re looking for,’” she says. At BNN she starred in a number of programmes, among them the much-discussed Spuiten en Slikken (which translates into English as “Shoot and Swallow” with both a drug and sexual connotation). She was also a contestant in the 2013 edition of the very popular TV show Wie is de Mol (Who is the Mole?)
Despite her success, Groenhart was feeling more and more uncomfortable with what she calls “the unwritten laws of television”. She felt that things were moving a bit slow in the staid world of television and wanted more freedom to run with her own ideas. So in 2013, she became an entrepreneur and founded the online media platform The Why Girl. Here, among others, she posts new episodes of her talk show, where she challenges women on their love lives, careers and the choices they make. And guess what? A few months after the first episode aired, television came calling. Since November 2014, The Why Girl can be seen on the Dutch TLC channel.
With all this success, you would think that Groenhart’s life has been roses all the way, but you would be wrong. In 2013, when trying to write her first novel, she realised that the story should be about herself. For over ten years, Groenhart had been pushing away memories of a sexual assault that occurred when she was 20 years old. In her book Het Waarom Meisje (The Why Girl), she confronts those memories and comes to terms with them. Groenhart has since been speaking out on the subject of sexual violence and the influence this has on the victims and on those around them. It is the story she will share with us during the upcoming TEDxDelft event.