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Black Muslim Narratives in Entertainment

  • The Writers Guild Foundation 7000 West 3rd Street Los Angeles, CA 90048 (map)

On this special evening, we partner with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and MuslimARC for a discussion that challenges the damaging tropes seen on screen by highlighting more authentic depictions of Black Muslim identities created by talented Black Muslim screenwriters.


  • Aminah Bakeer Abdul-Jabaar - Writer and Director (Muslimah’s Guide to Marriage)

  • Qasim Basir - Writer and Director (A Boy. A Girl. A Dream., Destined, Mooz-Lum)

  • Nijla Mu’min - Writer and Director (Jinn, Dream, Deluge)

  • Travina Springer - Actress & Comedienne (The Mule, Strange Angel, Comic View, Travel Ban)

Stay tuned for more panelist announcements!

Moderated by Margari Hill, co-founder and Executive Director of MuslimARC. Opening remarks by Sue Obeidi, Director of MPAC’s Hollywood Bureau.

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About our Panelists

Aminah Bakeer Abdul-Jabaar - Writer and Director (Muslimah’s Guide to Marriage)

Aminah is a writer, producer, director, and professor in the Pan African Studies Department at California State University, Los Angeles. She was born and raised in South Central LA and her father is activist and author Donald Bakeer, who wrote the novel that the film SOUTH CENTRAL is based on. She holds a B.A. from U.S.C. in Cinema T.V. and an M.F.A. in Directing from UCLA’s Film & T.V. Department. Aminah has participated in Film Independent’s Project Involve and Screenwriter’s Lab. Her short film, PERSONAL TOUCH, which deals with her mother’s death from breast cancer, won the Liddel Art Award from the Ann Arbor Film Festival and screened on KCET. After, Aminah wrote and directed DORSEY, a Multi-Camera TV Pilot about colorism in the Black Community (starring: Christy Knowings, Wesley Jonathan, and Wesley Jonathan). This landed her a coveted Directing Internship from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and she shadowed on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and was featured on ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT. Next, Aminah won the Visionary Award at the Pan African Film Festival for BILALIAN, a feature-length documentary about African-American Muslims in America and Africa, and received glowing reviews in several publications including “Variety” and broadcasted on the B.E.T. network. After, Aminah co-wrote, produced, and directed the web series BedRest (starring: Pratima Anáe and Tiffany Haddish), a comedy about a woman trapped on Bed Rest, which played on Blip.TV. Recently, Aminah’s narrative feature film, MUSLIMAH’S GUIDE TO MARRIAGE (starring: Ebony Perry, Glenn Plummer, Kareem Grimes, and BT Kingsley), which is about a twenty-something African-American orthodox Muslim Woman who has seven days and fourteen hours to save her marriage, won the Audience Award at the Pan African Film Festival and will be released soon. Currently, Aminah is in development on a T.V. series at HartBeat Productions.  

Qasim Basir, Screenwriter/Director

Qasim “Q” Basir is an award-winning filmmaker who often weaves autobiographical elements into his movies. He offers dynamic post-screening discussions of his films as well as engaging keynotes that explore issues of race and Islam, drawing on his experiences growing up Black and Muslim in the United States.

He directed his first feature film in 2010, MOOZ-lum, starring Nia Long, Evan Ross and Danny Glover. The coming-of-age tale about a Muslim boy going to college around the time of the September 11 attacks has received much critical acclaim, with nominations from the NAACP Image Awards and the Black Reel Awards. It won Best Narrative Feature at the 14th Annual Urban World Film Festival in New York. The film also gained international momentum, opening in over 25 countries. Given the current political climate, the film is once again in high demand as it speaks to the fear, hatred, and hostility towards Islam and Muslims, providing a powerful and complex story of what it means to be Muslim in America.

Basir’s most recent film, Destined, has won nine awards, including “Best Director” and “Best Actor” at the American Black Film Festival, as well as “Best Narrative Feature” at Urbanworld.” Destined tells the parallel stories of Sheed and Rasheed - both played by Cory Hardrict. In one world, he is a hardened criminal who has spent years building his drug empire. In another, he is an ambitious architect who has been working his way up the corporate ladder. Uniquely illustrated through parallel lives, Destined explores the idea of destiny as well as how the smallest incident can manifest itself into a life-changing event.

Basir’s forthcoming movie, A Boy, A Girl, A Dream, opens in theaters nationwide this Fall. This film takes place on the night of the 2016 Presidential election. Cass (Omari Hardwick), an L.A. club promoter, takes a thrilling and emotional journey with Frida (Meagan Good), a Midwestern visitor. She challenges him to revisit his broken dreams - while he pushes her to discover hers.

Basir’s earlier films include his first short, Glimpse, which won the Drama Category in the One Nation Film contest and The Inspiration of Barack, for which Qasim received the “Inspirational Filmmaker of the Year” award from the Memphis Black Writers Film Festival.

Nijla Mu'min, Writer/Director/Producer

Nijla Baseema Mu'min is a writer and filmmaker from the East Bay Area. Her work is informed by poetry, photography, fiction, and dance. Named one of 25 New Faces of Independent Film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2017, she tells stories about black girls and women who find themselves between worlds and identities.

Mu’min’s short films have screened at festivals and venues across the country, and her filmmaking and screenwriting have been supported by the Sundance Institute, IFP, Film Independent, the Islamic Scholarship Fund, Women In Film LA, and the Princess Grace Foundation. Mu’min worked as a Production Assistant on Ava DuVernay’s indie film Middle of Nowhere and was selected for the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Intensive in 2014. Later that year, she was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at the Urbanworld Film Festival for her script Noor. Mu’min attended the 2017 Sundance Institute Sound and Music Design Lab at Skywalker Ranch for Jinn, her debut feature film. Her short film Dream was acquired by Issa Rae Productions (“Insecure,” HBO) for online streaming.

Jinn, starring Zoe Renee and Simone Missick (Netflix’s Luke Cage), premiered in narrative competition at the 2018 South By Southwest Film Festival, winning the Special Jury Recognition Award for screenwriting. Mu’min went on to win Best Screenplay at the 2018 American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and Best Feature at Blackstar Film Festival, among other honors. Jinn was released in November 2018 by Orion Classics and is currently available for streaming on iTunes and Amazon Prime. 

A dual-degree graduate of CalArts MFA Film Directing and Writing Programs, Mu’min recently directed an episode of the critically-acclaimed television series Queen Sugar and currently writes for the upcoming Apple series Swagger.


Travina Springer - Actress & Comedienne (The Mule, Strange Angel, Comic View, Travel Ban)

Travina Springer is an actress and comedienne based in Los Angeles. She was in Clint Eastwood’s The Mule and recurs on Strange Angel (CBS All Access). As a stand-up comedienne, Travina was featured on the reboot of BET’s Comic View and the documentary, Travel Ban. Travina uses stand up as a medium to explore and share her specific perspective as a Muslim convert.

Recently, the Jewish Women’s Theater commissioned Travina to write and perform a piece for “More Courage,” which shared her conversion story and highlighted the realities being a black Muslim women in America. 

Currently, Travina is a regular performer at UCB and is on the Maude team, Duchess.

About our Moderator

Margari Hill.png

Margari Hill, Co-Founder and Executive Director, MuslimARC

Margari Aziza Hill is an adjunct professor, blogger, editor, and freelance writer with articles published in SISTERS, Islamic Monthly, and Spice Digest. She is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of MuslimARC, the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, an organization focusing on Education for Liberation.

After converting to Islam in 1993, her life experiences as a Black American woman have informed her research and writing on Islam, education, race, and gender. She has nearly a decade of teaching experiences at all levels from elementary, secondary, college level, to adult education. She has worked in education at various capacities including as substitute teacher, instructor, curriculum design, school policy, teacher training, as well as teaching assistant and teaching fellow. She taught Writing and Literature at Al-Aqsa Islamic Academy, developed instructed an Art and Literacy class for Clara Muhammad Summer Camp and worked as a Lead Teacher and Curriculum Developer at United Muslim Masjid Summer Madrasa.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in History from Santa Clara University in 2003 and master’s in History of the Middle East and Islamic Africa from Stanford University in 2006. Her research includes colonial perceptions mixed-raced identities in Northern Nigeria, anti-colonial resistance among West Africans in Sudan during the early 20th century, transformations in Islamic learning in Northern Nigeria, and International student programs at Al-Azhar and Cairo University.

She has given talks and lectures in various universities and community centers throughout the country.

About Our Opening Remarks Presenter

Sue Obeidi, Director, MPAC's Hollywood Bureau

Sue Obeidi is the director of the MPAC Hollywood Bureau. She works with studio executives, producers, directors, and writers to create accurate, authentic, and humanizing portrayals of Islam and Muslims in film, television, and digital content. Bottom line, she helps the entertainment industry tell better stories. Her consulting credits include movies and shows with Participant Media, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, Showtime, FX, USA, Hulu, Amazon, Buzzfeed, and National Geographic.

Growing up, Sue wanted to be an actress and escaped reality by watching movies and TV. Thank God that never happened because her true passion lies in changing the narrative about Islam and Muslims behind the camera. Sue loves a good story and always understood the power of pop culture to transform us, educate us, and change our opinions. She has been interviewed and quoted in major news and industry publications including Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline, The Wrap, and The New York Times.

A believer that film and television have a powerful role to play in the cause of social justice, Sue organizes MPAC’s annual Media Awards, which honors voices of courage and conscious in media. Past honorees include George Takei, Hasan Minhaj, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Faran Tahir, Spike Lee, Morgan Freeman, Alec Baldwin, Michael Moore, Amy Goodman, Selma, Marvel Comics, Grey's Anatomy, The Good Wife, and Bones.

Sue also works to reduce stereotypes and bridge the gap between American Muslims and Hollywood. She cultivates relationships and recommends emerging talent to industry decision-makers for upcoming film, television, and digital projects. Sue holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Marketing.