Welcome new Writers’ Program instructor, Nijla Mu’min! Nijla is teaching our Creative Writing: Screenplay course this fall and sat down with us to offer some insight into creative life and her upcoming course.

Nijla Mu’min

1) What sparks your creativity?
Everyday life. Watching and observing people. Listening to what they say, and how they say it. Family relationships and history. Recently, a female mechanic assisted me at an auto body shop and as I watched her maneuver through the different parts of the car, I began to envision a story about her. I also like to turn news headlines into intimate character studies. I am moved by experiences, images, glances, silence, and dreams.

2) What do you rely on for those times it’s difficult to find the time, energy, motivation and/or inspiration to write?
I rely on music, laughter, reading, singing, and dancing. Since I was young, I’ve immersed myself in other art forms, and have used them to inform my writing and filmmaking. I aim to cultivate a fluidity of movement and performance across artistic disciplines. I also like to reconnect with my older work at times. Doing this helps to remind me why I started on this path of being a writer and filmmaker. When I read or watch that work, I see the girl who just wanted to tell stories and humanize people through art.

3) What’s your favorite book and/or movie?
I’m a total fiction nerd. One of my favorite books is Caucasia by Danzy Senna, a layered exploration of identity, race, and coming of age girlhood in Boston. One of my favorite movies is The Piano, written and directed by Jane Campion. The story of an unlikely love affair in a bleak, beautiful wilderness moves me every time.

Katherine Dunham

4) What’s your favorite quote about writing?
I don’t have a favorite quote about writing, but I have a favorite quote that can be applied to writing:
“If you dance, you dance because you have to. Every dancer hurts, you know.”
– Katherine Dunham
For many artists and writers, what we do is not a choice. We write, or dance, or sing to survive, to get through life, and it’s not easy.

5) What excites you most about teaching for the Writers’ Program?
I am most excited about meeting other writers, engaging with them about what moves them to write, and reading and discussing their stories. I look forward to offering my insight and guidance on story development, character, and finding beauty in the three-act structure.

6) What do you hope your students get from your course(s)?
I hope students come away from my course with a strong story and all the elements needed to tell that story. They should know their characters inside and out, and they should feel the world they’re creating is tangible, and alive with possibility. Finally, I hope they get a confident grasp of screenplay structure and produce an outline and script that serves the story and the characters.

Still from Jinn (2017)

Nijla Mu’min is an award-winning writer and filmmaker whose short films have screened at festivals across the country. Her screenwriting and filmmaking have been recognized by the Sundance Institute, IFP, and BET, and her short film Dream was recently acquired by Issa Rae Productions (Insecure, HBO). She is in post-production on her first feature film, Jinn, starring Zoe Renee and Simone Missick (Luke Cage, Netflix).


Thank you to Nijla for taking time to share with us. Look for more instructor interviews coming soon!

Bree is the Assistant to the Director and Social Media Coordinator. You can email her at btodish@uclaextension.edu.

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