Actress and advice columnist alumna considers collegiate qualms

by Cathleen Cusachs / Beacon Staff • November 20, 2014

Najah Muhammad
Beacon Staff
Najah Muhammad
Beacon Staff

Emerson alumna Najah Muhammad was 15 when a friend’s mother heard her giving advice and suggested she write a column. After mulling it over for a few months, Muhammad said Najah Knows was formed. Initially, the column started in the newspaper at Muhammad’s New York high school, Oakwood Friends School. But soon, Muhammad said the column was picked up by the town’s newspaper, The Poughkeepsie Journal.

Najah Knows followed Muhammad into Emerson. As a sophomore, she started her own comedy advice show on Emerson Channel. Earlier this year, Najah Knows moved to podcasts on the  online radio station WECB. Muhammad, now 22, graduated this spring with a degree in performing arts and continues to run an advice blog and Twitter account, saying she aspires to be the next Oprah. She spoke with the Beacon on the phone about the latest developments on her blog and advice she has for undergraduates.

Berkeley Beacon: What is your blog like right now?

Najah Muhammad: What started off as kind of a joke is real and has actually taken off, at least in the realistic meaning of the word “taken off.” I’m not famous or anything, but people are supporting it. I’m currently in the beginning stages of setting up my new podcast. My new Facebook page will be an informational one, sort of like Emerson Confessional, where people can pose questions to me [anonymously] and then I will answer them.

BB: Tell us about your most recent piece.

Muhammad: My most recent piece was about three weeks ago. It was called “The Why,” and it’s all about questioning. I was in conversations with people about how we don’t question things enough anymore; we are told information and then we spit it out. [Questioning is] the only way we’re going to learn from each other’s cultures and religions. I’m actually in a show right now called Project Unspeakable and it’s about the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, and how we need to question the unspeakable things that happen in our country.

BB: Besides the blog, what are you doing post-graduation?

Muhammad: My internship is with Tara Rubin Casting, and it’s a casting office full of directors that cast potentially Broadway shows, both regional and touring ones. I’m able to actually attend auditions. What I really like about that is that I learned a lot at Emerson about acting and directing, but now I’m on the other side of the table.

BB: Do you have any advice for current performing arts majors?

Muhammad: My advice would be no matter what rehearsal you’re going to, always pack a [granola] bar in your bag. Secondly, I don’t care what your major is. I think once upon a time in this world, especially in the arts, it was good to know exactly what you wanted to do and to master it. But in this day and age, it’s actually really good to get your feet wet in everything.

BB: How about general Emerson advice?

Muhammad: I’d say it’s really important at Emerson to find what you’re truly passionate about, and devote your time to that. I would say freshman and sophomore year, it’s nice to be involved in so many clubs, but when junior and senior year come, it’s nice to limit to a select few. The one thing I always ask people and myself on a regular basis [is], “What did you do to love yourself today?”