EVENT / BIO

Najla Zaidi is an award-winning screenwriter and director, who has earned a MFA in screenwriting from UCLA and is an alumna of AFI’s prestigious Directing Workshop for Women. Najla has written and directed PSAs, short films, music videos and a feature
documentary with Peter DiStefano (Porno for Pyros and Jane’s Addiction). She has been a script consultant on international films and a writer-for-hire on numerous films and tv projects. In addition, she has acted in, written and co-produced plays, sitcoms and variety shows for both local and South Asian networks as well as serving as Jury Chair twice at the Temecula Valley International Film and Music Festival. She has also volunteered with Art of Elysium and as the directing instructor for the Will and Jada Smith’s Family Foundation and AFI’s Young Women in Film Program.

Najla Zaidi was born in Pakistan and raised in Kansas. She was put into preschool, so she could learn English but that’s not how she learned. She learned from watching films and television. Najla was so fascinated by them, that she grew up wishing to become a part of the process. Although all Pakistani parents want their children to become physicians, to her parent’s chagrin and her great joy, Najla was wait-listed for medical school and went to film school instead. She has grown up smack in the middle of two cultures and knows firsthand the comedy and tragedy of living with your feet in two boats. Writing and directing for film and television is Najla’s passion and the only thing she has ever wanted to do. It was the dream of the three-year-old and it is the reality of the woman today.