Sabrina Saleha Ahmed
September 2023 – Graduate
Scholarship: Named Graduate
School: Institute of American Indian Arts
Degree: Creative Writing-Screenwriting
- 22-’23 Native American Media TV Writer’s Lab fellow with SkinsFest
- Mentor Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA)
Sabrina Saleha is a Diné (Navajo) screenwriter and actress. She is currently a MFA candidate for Screenwriting at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a current Native American Media TV Writer’s Lab fellow with SkinsFest. Her life experience as a Van-lifer in the arts is featured in the Emmy-nominated documentary, “The Story of US: A PBS American Portrait Story.” Her inspiration as a storyteller is to tell stories that her younger brother would have loved. She lost her young brother before his high school graduation but carries her love for him with every story she shares.
I am a first-generation college student. Navigating my experience through undergraduate was difficult, but I graduated in 2015. I graduated with a business degree and secured an internship that became a full-time offer in Silicon Valley, working at a Fortune 500 company, Cisco. It was there when I started the Native American Network Employee Resource Organization, outside of my job duties. I left my corporate job in 2018 to pursue a career change into storytelling in TV/Film. I know of my past successes in breaking into industries that were not intended for Native Americans that I will succeed in screenwriting, but it is difficult when spaces are not meant for you. My school, IAIA, is my creative home, but the challenge I’ve needed to overcome is navigating my finances to continue my education in the craft of story.
I started graduate school, and it’s strained my finances. The scholarship helps me in my educational journey in pursuing my academic research and screenplay to the film industry to include more Native American voices. I am earning my Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting. In the final year of my graduate program, I plan to work on my thesis on how to adapt my Navajo stories to the Native American cinematic landscape. My academic goal is to contribute my research to creating sci-fi and fantasy worlds in the Native American cinematic landscape. The current screenwriters who helm the genre are non-Native and use our stories. I strive to represent Native people on TV and Film accurately.
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