Alumna Cherien Dabis '04 Stars in New Netflix Series 'Mo'

Alumna Cherien Dabis '04 is stepping in front of the camera to star in Mo, the new comedy series from Netflix.

September 29, 2022

Alumna Cherien Dabis '04 is stepping in front of the camera to star in Mo, the new comedy series from Netflix.

In Mo, Mo Najjar straddles the line between two cultures, three languages, and a ton of bullshit as a Palestinian refugee constantly living one step away from asylum on the path to US citizenship. His family—including his resilient and spiritual mother, sister, and older brother—flee to Houston, Texas. Laughing the pain away, Mo learns to adapt to his new world, though getting ahead in life comes with several setbacks. Dabis portrays Nadia Najjar, Mo’s sister.

The show has debuted to critical acclaim: Variety praised the show’s debut season as a “truly nuanced story of a man, family, and Palestinian experience that television rarely acknowledges at all, let alone spotlights with half as much consideration and style.” The Guardian similarly applauded the new series, telling readers “it is impossible not to become instantly invested in this warm, moving comedy.”

Dabis is no stranger to breaking important ground in film and television. She also serves as a co-executive producer and director on Hulu’s critically acclaimed Ramy, the first half-hour Arab American comedy on television. The show was among the 2019 honorees of the Peabody Awards, which honors the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during the previous year.

Dabis has worked extensively in television as a writer/producer and director. Her credits include Showtime’s original groundbreaking series The L Word, USA Network’s The Sinner, Fox’s Empire and Netflix’s Ozark. In 2021, Dabis was awarded the annual Andrew Sarris Award at the Columbia University Film Festival. The Sarris Award, named for the late School of the Arts Film Program professor and world-renowned critic and theorist Andrew Sarris, honors outstanding service and artistic achievement of distinguished Film Program alumni. Past recipients include Phil Johnston ’04 (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph), Laura Ricciardi ’07 and Moira Demos ’08 (Making a Murderer), Benjamin Odell '04 (How to be a Latin Lover, Overboard), Kathryn Bigelow ’81 (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty), and many more.

Throughout her career, Dabis has been dedicated to the need for authentic representation of marginalized communities in film and television.

“As creators and makers, we have great societal responsibility,” Dabis said in an article for Variety. “We can either make content that perpetuates the increasingly violent world we live in, or we can create a world that reflects the one we hope to live in. I choose the latter, and will continue to look for ways to uplift those of us who’ve been cast aside, until one day, perhaps, we’ll all be considered equally valuable members of the human race.”

The series, which debuted on Netflix on August 24, 2022, is available to stream now on Netflix. Watch the trailer below.

Cherien Dabis is an award-winning narrative filmmaker, television writer, and producer. She was born in Omaha, Nebraska to Palestinian immigrant parents and was raised between small town Ohio and Amman, Jordan. Studying dance and theater in her youth, she went on to earn her MFA in film from Columbia University. Drawing from her background as a first generation Arab American, Dabis’ films focus on cross-cultural issues with a perceptive, anthropological eye to depict worlds seldom seen on the big screen. Her feature films May in the Summer (2013) and Amreeka (2009) both had their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival; short films include Not Another Word (2013) and Make A Wish (2006).