Nayeema Raza: Documentary Filmmaker & Writer

Nayeema Raza is a documentary filmmaker and writer whose work has appeared at the Tribeca Film Festival, on CNN, and in The New York Times. She was raised in Asia and Africa, and lived in five continents before settling in New York. But in the last few months, she’s been relatively sedentary like all of us.

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Q: What are three words people use to describe you?
A: Loyal, resourceful and (impractically) optimistic.

Q: What is your favorite city to travel to?
A: Beirut. It’s hard to beat a city that has skiing, the beach, and Roman ruins all within a short drive—even if you have to cross security checkpoints in between. 

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Q: What pieces make up your power outfit?
A: Skinny jeans, a tee, and an oversized white blazer or black leather jacket. I wear sneakers if I’m filming, and 100 mm+ heels if not. And, of course, the chic new accessory: a little black mask.

Q: What’s a novel you recommend to all your friends?
A: Almost anything by Graham Greene. I make little travel guides for friends, each with a “to read” section. His novels feature frequently, whether for Cuba (Our Man in Havana), Turkey (Orient Express) or Vietnam (The Quiet American).

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Q: What’s your favorite comfort food?
A: I skip breakfast, except when visiting my parents. My mother spoils me with a Pakistani feast. She’ll make aloo ki bhujia (a spicy cumin potato dish), desi omelet (with fresh chilies, coriander and turmeric), halwa (a sweet semolina) and poori (crispy, puffed-up, and heavenly homemade bread). I love eating this in my pajamas on a Sunday, splitting the last poori in half with my dad.

Q: What is your secret pleasure Instagram account to follow?
A: I deleted the Instagram app two years ago. Since then, my guilty pleasure has been to re-download it every couple of months. I do a quick trawl down the rabbit-hole, perhaps post something silly, and then delete the app for the foreseeable future!

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Q: What’s your favorite interior design trend?
A: Always, and particularly these days, I love bringing the outside in with greenery. My favorite architect is Geoffrey Bawa. He had these airy designs where a whole garden would float between a living and dining room. That’s a hard look to get in a city apartment. But I’ve found a lot of joy visiting New York’s flower district and bringing home a plant or two.

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