Nijla is a writer and filmmaker whose artistic background spans poetry, photography, short fiction, dance, and film criticism. Hailing from the East Bay Area, she tells stories about black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities.
Her 2011 short film Two Bodies has screened at festivals across the country, including the Pan African Film Festival, Outfest, Frameline and Newfest. Her writing appears in the critically acclaimed book, "Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women," and she's also written film and cultural criticism for VICE, Shadow and Act on the Indiewire Network, Bitch Media, Gawker, and The Los Angeles Times. In 2011, she worked as a Production Assistant on Ava DuVernay’s film, Middle of Nowhere.
She is a recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Foundation- Cary Grant Film Award for her graduate thesis film, Deluge, which has screened at BAMcinematek in Brooklyn, Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia and The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). In 2014, she was one of 10 writers selected for the Second Annual Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive. She is the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the 2014 Urbanworld Film Festival, for her script Noor. In 2015, she was selected for the prestigious New York Film Festival's Artist Academy. Her script JINN has received several high ratings on the industry script database THE BLACK LIST. Her 2015 short film, Dream has screened at the the Pan African Film Festival, Urbanworld, and the Afrikana Independent FIlm Festival.
She is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and also attended Howard University's MFA Film Program, where she was the recipient of the 2009 Paul Robeson Award for Best Feature Screenplay. She is a 2013 dual-degree graduate of CalArts' MFA Film Directing and Writing programs.