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Alum Nadia Shaik is the focus of TV show as she grows her multimedia empire

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Portland Community College alum, freelance writer and business owner Nadia Shaik dreams of writing and directing her own Bollywood movie. It would not be surprising when she does so, as she is on literary fire. 

As a contemporary multimedia author with a recent project with Dark Horse Comics and a possible role on a new reality-like series, Shaik is now being touted as one of the possible next big names in media as a semi-finalist after a recent fall filming for “America’s Next Great Author” — whose TV pilot is currently being pitched in Hollywood. The show was created by writers to showcase writers who aren’t normally given a seat at the table in mainstream publishing.

“Being a semifinalist feels great,” said Shaik, who has been creating and writing since the age of six. The episode she filmed in New York this October is now on a “sizzle reel” being pedaled around Hollywood.

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Academic Pathways: Art & Communication
  • The Multimedia Program offers students cutting-edge technology, knowledgeable guidance through the world of multimedia, and the ability to master industry-standard applications. Graduates can make an average annual salary of $101,000. The program is part of the Art & Communication academic pathway, which can lead to careers in creative professions and offer life-enriching learning that students can apply toward a four-year degree. 

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“This show opens up opportunities. In terms of my skills and abilities, it’s great with both seasoned and newer authors,” said Shaik.

Shaik, who lives in Beaverton, studied in PCC’s Multimedia Program, graduating in 2017 before transferring to Oregon State University. While at OSU, she graduated from the Launch Academy incubator for student entrepreneurs. She is the founder of Garam Masala Studios, an Oregon-based digital media studio and said she found it challenging to get her new venture across to angel investors.

“They didn’t know my culture, my race, my ethnicity, and it was a barrier,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was putting myself into a box.”

Her studio aims to tell stories in all areas of novels including short stories, visual novels, hybrid novels, audio novels, graphic novels, comics, novellas, and new experimental methods on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

“I’ve been making stuff online since I was 13,” she said. “So it’s incredible to see where technology has taken storytelling and art. Using different mediums to tell a story is my thing. It’s such a high.”

She was a bit of an introvert while at PCC, Shaik recalled. However, once she got into the program it was a different story.

“We cheered one another on and joined each others’ film projects in the background,” Shaik said. “I liked the entrepreneurial part. We honestly learned how to be successful and to be okay with failing and understand it took teamwork and collaboration to make big projects happen.

“I love the community focus of the college,” she continued. “Faculty and peers want you to find your space. Whether you find it in a club, or in the classroom, it gives you capital to succeed and do well. Not everyone can afford to go straight to university.”

Accepting Who She Is

Multiracial and Muslim, Shaik spent her childhood in Chicago before her family moved to Oregon where she was home-schooled. Shaik, 28, said believing in herself, her faith, and her joy has helped her to accept herself, which has been a lifelong challenge in and out of this field. It is also likely the reason she was selected from over 3,000 writer-applicants.

Nadia Shaik

Nadia Shaik.

She is into new concepts that are foreign to old-school audiences. One is user-generated content involving web-based, interactive story telling and more.

“Over the decade, I’ve tried new platforms and engines,” Shaik admitted. “Like Quizilla, Myspace, Wattpad, LiveJournal. I started out writing fanfics and making zines on the back of my baba’s engineering copy paper. I had dreams of animating and writing for Disney; I think most kids growing up in the ‘90s did. Now, I want to have the courage to try new things and take my writing to new spaces.”

Her project for Dark Horse Comics was one such an example. 

“It was a partnership with Portland General Electric and Dark Horse to communicate sustainability to a young audience through a graphic novel-style comic with super heroes who work to keep our climate healthy,” she said. “It was a great collaboration where I designed the comic characters and wrote in-tandem with the Dark Horse team. ‘Climate Keepers’ is available to area educators for their students.”

Finding Community Online

Besides her collaboration, she also has focused on finding and forming a global creative community online. She founded Cool Storytellers Lounge, a Discord server, for a community of emerging storytellers around the world. She says that no matter what medium artists use, or where they are in their storyteller journey, they can find an accountability group, creator chats, workshops, classes, and monthly critique group.

“I wanted to establish a community and the resources that I could not find for myself when I started writing,” Shaik said. “So, I began to create and share the tools that I needed to run my business. The community is a real support system.”

In the last 16 years of her professional career, she said she has done some growing and inner work. Shaik faced hurdles as she become more comfortable with a mixed African-American and Desi identity.

“Looking back, being rejected felt sad but it taught me to look at myself, dig deep, and create my career out of my joys, media and storytelling,” Shaik said. “To honor my craft and skills and not view what I make as skin-deep but invite people into my messy, beautiful, and fiery world.”

Shaik intends to release her memoir “Grandma’s Lounge Gowns” this summer. It is based on her journey to bulimia recovery during Ramadan 2022 and becoming a part-time caretaker to her alcoholic, dementia-riddled grandmother. Also, an adventure-romance visual novel is in the works titled “The Song of Wata.” It is based on the folktale “The Blind Girl” and features a “griot” – a term for a West African poet and musician – as the main character in homage to the Cameroonian side of her roots.

About Misty Bouse

A Portland Community College public relations program specialist, Misty Bouse has been working in college advancement for more than eight years. A graduate of University of Oregon, Misty has worked as a managing editor for BUILDERNews Magaz... more »