Take Five with Raamla Mohamed ’03

Raamla Picture
Raamla Mohamed ’03 is a television writer and producer based in Los Angeles. After earning an M.F.A. in writing for film and television at the University of Southern California in 2008, Mohamed worked on the shows Grey’s Anatomy and Off the Map and became a fellow in the Disney/ABC Writing Program. She penned 11 episodes for the series Scandal, including the seventh-season crossover episode with How To Get Away with Murder, starring Viola Davis. Mohamed is co-writing a pilot for HBO with Issa Rae about black teenagers in the affluent L.A. neighborhood of Windsor Hills. She recently signed a two-year deal with ABC studios and is a co-executive producer on Little Fires Everywhere for Hulu. She is also working on a romantic comedy for Universal Pictures with Malcolm Lee attached to direct.

What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?

I’m from Los Angeles, so I didn’t think living in New York City would be much of a transition. Boy, was I wrong! I was quite overwhelmed when I got there. The city was big, the students were geniuses and I was certain that the University made a mistake letting me in. I also came in as an economics major before realizing very quickly that I was not interested in economics at all. However, once I found my friends and the classes I loved, I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else.

What do you remember about your first-year living situation?

Opening the door to my room in John Jay and thinking, “It’s a closet!” And it was. But it also meant that you never wanted to stay in your room. All of us kept our doors open and were always going in and out of each other’s room to hang out or study or chill. A lot of my really good friends from college are from JJ6.

What class do you most remember and why?

I took a lot of great classes, including “Polish Cinema,” with Annette Insdorf. However, the class I remember most is Lit Hum, taught by Julie Crawford — it was actually her first class at Columbia. The inherent structure of the class was so fast but encouraged contemporary conversations. I had never taken a class with such a specific vision. And Professor Crawford was so brilliant, it made the class very inspiring. I actually ended up switching to the English major because of it.

Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?

Uris Hall, the Business School library, because you could talk there. I actually don’t like silence when I’m studying or even now, when I’m writing. The energy of tiny conversations around me creates a white noise that makes me focus more than when there’s no sound at all. And also, I like to talk!

What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?

I would do the entire four years all over again, except I would’ve majored only in film and minored in English, just so I could have taken more random classes. I also would’ve studied abroad. Everything else I would keep the same, from living on East Campus to choreographing the Varsity Show. Sending in that tuition deposit when I was 17 is still the best decision I’ve ever made.