Rosa Jad broke down barriers in the entertainment industry. A new show she’s launching will help Arab-American women do the same

Sitting on a bench in Washington Park, wearing a black abaya, legs crossed and a pair of old gray sneakers, Rosa Judd reflected on her success off camera.

This time last year, during the holy month of Ramadan, Jad decided to retire from his career as a hip-hop/R&B personality on the KS 107.5 airwaves.

The abaya, crafted by London-based designer Saeedah Haque, is emblematic of the latest venture in Jad’s career as a young entrepreneur.

Kevin J. Beatty/Denveright

“I realize that I’m one piece of this whole puzzle with all these beautiful female Muslim entrepreneurs around the world,” Judd said. “[Haque] has opened a new avenue for girls who want to be groomed in the mosque. She showed me that there are other women like me all over the world who are trying to start a business. Growing up, there were only the traditional abayas. It makes me feel much more comfortable in my own skin as a Muslim.”

Like Haque’s outfit, Jad is embarking on her own journey, hoping to blaze new trails for Muslim women like herself to be fully represented in Western media.

Jad launched RoRos Global Enterprises Inc., a media production and development company that will distribute original curated content in pop culture, music, sports, fashion and beauty to English- and Arabic-speaking audiences.

Rosa Judd interviews Leslie Herrod at the Colorado State Capitol.
Courtesy of Rosa Jad

The platform’s first show, The Rotation, is a variety game talk show hosted by media personality Jad RoRo. The show will air weekly on all social media platforms.

The Rotation’s first season will feature artists such as rising R&B singer Phabo at Washington Park, Denver-born Iranian-American pop/R&B artist YaSi, Lizzo’s DJ Sophia Eris at Larimer Lights, Latto’s DJ Von in downtown Denver, and even a state representative of Colorado and former mayoral candidate Leslie Herrod at the Colorado State Capitol.

“I’m a Denver kid who knows the city inside and out,” Judd said. “I will always cheer for and cherish Denver. Every up and coming artist has stopped by venues like the Ogden Theater and I was really lucky to catch that wave. And if Denver hadn’t provided me with that, I wouldn’t have been able to have that experience.

Shahid Content Producers, the leading Arabic content streaming platform in the Middle East and North Africa region, will produce the seven-segment variety show, which will be distributed in English and Arabic.

It will feature a variety of studio interviews, food reviews, lifestyle segments that touch on beauty and cuisine among Middle Eastern women, live studio performances and behind-the-scenes footage with artists such as Jessie Reyez at Summit Music Hall, Blxst at the Ogden Theater , Rema at the Bluebird Theatre, Blk Odyssey at the Larimer Lounge and Latto at the Ball Arena.

Rosa Judd checks her lip gloss by Lake Grasmere in Washington Park.  April 18, 2023
Kevin J. Beatty/Denveright

Since leaving her post at KS 107.5, Judd said she’s learned a lot about what it’s like to be out of the studio, alone and away from the microphone.

“I have never been more isolated. I’ve never felt more alone. I’ve never felt more scared, anxious, you know, to leave everything,” Judd said.

Judd said she left radio because she became self-aware.

“I love everything I did there. I grew up there. I became a woman there,” Judd said. “I just got to a point in my life where there was a lot of me that I wanted to represent. I had to look in the mirror and ask “Who do I want to be and what do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

Rosa Jad poses with R&B artist Phabo in Washington Park.

With a resume like Judd’s, a jump to a larger media conglomerate seemed like the next most likely move. She packed her bags, took a trip to Los Angeles and spent time scouting her next career move with industry friends she had met in Denver.

“Whether it was Denver, LA or New York, I realized I was still the only Arab in the room. I’m still the only Muslim in every room,” Jad said. “I’m there and I’m in the same room with Kid Cudi, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Bieber and Lewis Hamilton. All these people and I’m like ‘What? Did I miss the prayer for that?”

Jad has prayed throughout her career in entertainment. So she goes “back to center” while in the glare of media and entertainment.

“On Fridays in radio, when my job was from 10:00 to 15:00, from 11:40 to 1:20 I would record a voice, go to the mosque and come back,” she said. “At the radio station, between songs, between meetings. My boss would come in and I would put my foot in the sink while I was washing to pray. During Summer Jam, I fasted two years in a row [for Ramadan]. I was backstage, had a really quick bite to eat and then went on stage and introduced Kendrick Lamar. Everyone knew that Rosa was a Muslim.

Rosa Judd Balls in Washington Park.  April 18, 2023
Kevin J. Beatty/Denveright

Living as a Muslim, Arab-American woman in Denver means that Jad won’t often see others like herself, especially in the entertainment business.

“The experience I would say is unique. I have always been allowed the freedom to protect both sides of myself. Going to prom and playing basketball while going to Friday prayer, celebrating Eid, wearing the abaya and stuff,” Judd said. “But it was also, I’m not going to lie… it’s a lonely experience. I didn’t realize the lack of [representation] it had me until I got old and thought “Where is my place?”

At the time, Jad’s parents weren’t too sure about allowing their 17-year-old Muslim daughter to pursue a career in hip-hop radio. But she credits them with giving her a chance to figure out her life. As long as she did well in school, continued to pray, and respected the “old ways,” then she was ready.

“What I really want to create is like a safe haven, especially for Middle Eastern women from all over the world to connect online,” Judd said. “This is the new way, digital media, and I’m just playing one part of the story.”

Rosa Jad and DJ Sophia Eris pose in Larimer Square.
Courtesy of Rosa Judd

Working in the news media for so many years, Judd got the opportunity to observe what goes on behind the scenes. Specifically, she has seen how difficult it is for women in the industry.

“A big reason I started this show was the lack of respect in the press, especially for women, who were bombarded with mean and powerful questions,” Judd said.

Toward the end of his tenure at KS 107.5, Judd started what was known as “Rosa’s Risky Rotation,” the beta version of what would now be The Rotation.

The artists knew who she was because of her time on the radio, but were happy to come on her show because of the reputation she had built up over the years.

“All these big guests were still coming back and doing interviews with me because they were just enjoying a nice, safe press interview,” Judd said.

Two early career interviews stood out the most for Jad: Saweetie and Kiana Ledé.

“When the women came to the interview, they were very timid, shy and scared. That’s when I realized that the press doesn’t treat women fairly,” Judd said. “I’m the press for them, I’m a cameraman. They don’t know I’m the same age as them or that I’m watching over them. We were all strangers and we were able to form these bonds that truly lasted forever. I learned that it is more than press. This is sisterhood and it is necessary. The core of the show is really about sisterhood and it’s about humanity before even Islam itself.”

Rosa Judd Balls in Washington Park.  April 18, 2023
Kevin J. Beatty/Denveright

The 28-year-old has frequented Washington Park for years, calling it her safe place where she can be anyone but RoRo or the KS 107.5 radio host. She admits she’s scared to start the next chapter of her career, but that’s simply because she cares deeply about what it might mean for people like her.

“My biggest goal with the show is that I hope little Arab girls can see this and feel inspired to do whatever they want, regardless of the cultural stigma of who we’re supposed to be,” Jad said, fighting back tears. “I’m really doing this show for RoRo: the younger version of me who screamed and fought and fought to be heard. She’s the first Arab American talk show host. She’s crazy, she’s wild, she’s powerful. RoRo was all I needed growing up as an Arab American living in America.

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