School: Loyola Marymount University
Sponsor: Islamic Institute of Orange County (IIOC)
Message to Supporters: My name is Z. Khalilah Waajid, I am ISF’s 2015 National Film Grant recipient for documentary. And thanks to your generosity I am one of ISF’s 2017 Scholarship Recipients.
As a filmmaker it is my goal to live by verse 49:13 “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.”
I am a lover of knowledge and humanity– here to tell stories that examine the essence of human nature. As I continue my education to complete my Master of Fine Arts at one of the top film programs in the nation, Loyola Marymount University, I am most excited that I have the backing of you, a supporter of the American Muslim voice. It is my goal to tell the stories of the underrepresented and shine a light on the Muslim experience and others forgotten.
I am currently in postproduction of my documentary, Undiscovered Princess,a tale of my daughter dealing with her identity as a black American Muslim. I am also in pre-production of my thesis film, a fiction of an Afro-Latino boy’s illegal border crossing. As you may have gathered, I am intrigued by the unique stories that come out of marginalized communities as I am a minority my self.
In this current political climate, people like you have seen the importance of supporting Muslim voices like mine and I truly am grateful to you for your sadaqah. Your donation supports my education, which not only impacts my life but improves my family’s as well. I am inspired by your kindness and intend is to pay it forward.
Thank you for making change not only your heart but with your actions as well. I pray Allah will bless you and your family to see the benefit in this life and the next.
Bio: One of the first experiences that molded Z.Khalilah as a filmmaker was her undergraduate documentary entitled Into The Mirror. What began as a journey to document her 16-year-old sister in law, quickly blossomed into a story of relationships, vulnerability and adversity in the wake of a revealed pregnancy. Through this experience, Z.Khalilah has been inspired to keep honesty at the forefront of her films.
Her aesthetic influences and creative interests are shaped by two distinct factors: atmosphere and the people within that given atmosphere. She values illuminating the stories of the unheard. While attaining her BA, Z.Khalilah learned about the struggles of undocumented youth in Atlanta and their unheard voices. She was inspired to embark on her own journey of research discovering the many migration stories of these children. She became dedicated to the research of Latin American child’s clandestine crossing and immersed herself in the culture, camped in the Sonora desert while providing humanitarian aid, visited the border town Nogales, Mexico, and presented in communities and universities. Through this experience she learned about digging into human nature and finding the intimate moments that make us human. As a result this motivated her future project Andrés’s Crossing, a narrative based on a boy’s illegal border crossing through Arizona’s Sonora desert. It is her hopes to bring this story to the big screen during her MFA career.
As her desire to hone in on her craft grew, she was accepted into one of the nation’s top film schools, Loyola Marymount University’s School of Film and Television in Los Angeles. As a Dean’s Fellow she is currently pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts and is set to graduate in 2018.
Her latest documentary, Undiscovered Princess, explores the importance of cultural and self-identity for a child. Z.Khalilah immerses the audience into her daughter’s world as the first grader’s love of princesses is used to explore what it means to be Black Muslim girl in America. Undiscovered Princess is currently in postproduction.
Areas of Interest:
Directing Documentary and Fiction Film, Post Production, Non-Profit