MFA Student Hired to Write CBS Pilot Based on Stacey Abrams’ Novel “Never Tell”

By the time she enrolled at CSUN, Talicia Raggs already had built an impressive resume, writing for or producing television shows such as “NCIS: New Orleans,” “The Originals” and many others since the mid-2000s. With her experience, Raggs knew she had a lot of knowledge to offer and wanted to teach. With only a bachelor’s degree, however, every time a teaching opportunity came up, she was out of the running.

Denise DiNovi, Talicia Raggs, Stacey Abrams and Nina Tassler

Left to right: Denise DiNovi, Talicia Raggs, Stacey Abrams and Nina Tassler. Photo Courtesy of Scott Sturgeon

“People were not only looking for candidates with great experience, but who also had terminal degrees,” said Raggs, referring to the highest degree one can achieve in one’s field — in her case, screenwriting. Raggs received her bachelor’s degree from USC.

She turned to what she describes as “one of the best-kept secrets in town”: CSUN.

“CSUN has great programs, great, top-notch facilities, caring and helpful instructors, all for an unbelievable value,” Raggs said, calling her decision to pursue her degree at CSUN a “no-brainer.”

She recently made industry news when she was hired by PatMa Productions at CBS to write a pilot for “Never Tell,” an upcoming series based on the book by Georgia political figure Stacey Abrams — first published in 2004 under the pen name Selena Montgomery. Abrams became a national household name as the Democratic party’s 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate and the first African American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address.

“Never Tell” is a romance novel that follows linguist and criminal psychologist Dr. Erin Abbott as she investigates a potential serial killer in New Orleans, along with her love interest, journalist Gabriel Moss.

“We’re all very excited for Talicia,” said Scott Sturgeon, screenwriting professor and the Graduate Program Coordinator for the screenwriting program. “She’s a wonderful writer and the perfect person to bring the Stacy Abrams project to the screen. We’re happy Talicia chose to pursue her MFA at CSUN. Our program is a home to aspiring writers and industry professionals, and our graduates are working in television, features, animation and as creative executives. This fall we’re hiring a new full-time faculty member with extensive professional experience in television writing. We look forward to following Talicia’s career and hope she’ll come back soon and teach for us.”

CSUN’s MFA in Screenwriting is a 42-unit, two-year terminal-degree program that focuses on mastering the foundation for all cinema and TV narrative — the script. It also prepares those who have a passion for teaching at the college and university levels, including experienced industry professionals. The program includes a look at the history of and critical approaches to film and television, a thorough exploration of screen narrative aesthetics, tools and methodologies, and the writing of several scripts, including a culminating feature-film or episodic television project. Applications are accepted from October to February.

Raggs got her first writing job in 2005 on a show that never aired, and she has since worked on shows such as “Switched at Birth,” “Saving Grace” and “Ironside.”

She landed the job writing for “Never Tell” after pitching an adaptation of the book for TV. Balancing work and school hasn’t been easy, she said, “but I’m very grateful to have helpful and understanding instructors who go out of their way to accommodate my schedule when need be.”

Her cohort of MFA classmates are helpful as well, sharing notes or recording any lectures she might miss, Raggs added.

“Now that I’m completing my MFA at CSUN, the next time the perfect teaching opportunity comes up, I’ll be prepared,” she said.

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