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Conversations with Daija Moss

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daija Moss.

Hi Daija, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My story begins in Highland Park, Los Angeles where I was born and raised. As a young, mixed Afro-Latina I struggled for the majority of my childhood to fit in with the Latinx locals in my area. I was picked on for everything, my skin tone, my hair texture, etc. The one thing that no one could deny though was that I was smart. I always had a high GPA and I was an overachiever. By the end of high school, I was ranked 7th in my class with a 4.2 GPA, I was varsity cheer captain, I had been in several clubs, I was a volunteer in the community, and on top of it all I was helping my single mom raise my two little brothers. It was a lot, but it paid off. I applied to 14 universities and was only rejected by one (I’m coming for you USC. Screenwriting masters 2024, you just wait and see!). I decided to attend UCLA, where I double-majored in English and Italian. Learning Italian was a spontaneous choice, but it was one that would really change my life.

For the first time, during my junior year, I was able to travel to Europe. I went to school in Florence, Italy, but on the weekends I was visiting Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, and I got to spend a whole week in Paris! Traveling on my own really gave me perspective and confidence! I survived a Europe trip as a young Black (American) Latina! I loved Italy so much that I decided to go back after college and I spent three months working in a super small town in Tuscany. No one spoke English, so sometimes I struggled to keep up, but being alone out there in the middle of what felt like nowhere I really reconnected with myself. I still had no idea what career I wanted to pursue or where I’d go next, but I felt like if I could work in a country on my own then I could accomplish anything. So, I came back, reenrolled in some acting and screenwriting classes and fell in love with storytelling.

Then, well, the pandemic hit and I started taking all my classes online, but being forced to be home made me have to really sit with myself again and think if that was really where I wanted to be. I felt unmotivated, alone, confused, and defeated. I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted, but it wasn’t until I really started skating that things totally changed for me. I had been skating since the year prior to the COVID lockdown, but not as consistently as I did during the first few months of the pandemic. My boyfriend encouraged me to start posting my progress on Instagram and I was hesitant at first, but it really kicked off. I started to challenge myself more and more and I can happily say that I am very proud of my progress thus far. I have also made a ton of new friends on social media who have actually turned out to be some of the best, most supportive people I’ve ever met. They make me want to be a better skater and person overall. Where skating fits into screenwriting, I haven’t really figured out yet, but I do not think that I have to ever sacrifice one thing for the other and I know that as long as I stay true to myself and listen to my wants and needs, then there’s no telling just how high I’ll go (and it’s gonna be high baby)!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not been a smooth road at all. As I mentioned before, I’ve always battled with some kind of oppression. People bullying me, telling me I wasn’t good enough, condescending me, making me feel awkward or weird for the most unnecessary things, and yes I did let it get to me. I let it shape my behavior, my appearance, my thoughts. So much of myself was lost in trying to please everyone. It wasn’t really until George Floyd’s murder that I woke up to my own situation. I realized that the harassment was never really about me being me, but about me being ME, as in being a mixed black girl. I was getting hate on all sides, even from my own people! I had to look that in the eye and tell myself that no matter what, I am special and worthy of all that the universe presents to me. No one can take away my spirit and my shine.

I also had to look another look at myself and accept the fact that all of this trauma has caused me to hold prejudice in my heart. In order to feel free, I knew I had to let that go and understand that if I want to be loved for being myself then I have to love people for being themselves as well and accept them with compassion even if I do not always agree with them. Now, that doesn’t mean I need to be everyone’s best friend no matter what. It just means that as a human being I owe it to my kind to be respectful and considerate of others. Once I got that into my head things started to become much easier and I started to feel like I can really just open up and be my most authentic self in any setting and if people give me pushback for it, then they just aren’t for me. I can just thank you next and move on.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a writer, first and foremost. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I started off with journaling and then really got into writing academic essays. On the side, I would write poetry and short stories, but it wasn’t until after college that I started writing feature and television scripts. Outside of writing, I am a roller skater and I dabble in things like graphic design, styling, jewelry making, photography, project collaboration, makeup, content creation, video editing, language learning, and really anything that peaks my interest.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
My ability to come up with new and creative ideas on the spot. It has always been a talent of mine. You can give me a word and I can give you twenty different ideas based off of that word in a matter of minutes. It’s really what makes me such a good writer. I can come up with a story idea by just listening to a conversation between two people at the laundromat. I am also very attentive, I pay attention to everything, every feeling, every smell. I lock it all in my brain so when the time comes for me to use that information in something, I can make a story more real and visceral. I am also just generally really easy to talk to. It’s kind of funny because I often find that strangers have an easy time opening up to me and I never stop them unless I’m at work and I really need to get going.

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