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Kean University

Kean Alumna Helps Bring Eclipsed from Stage to Screen

Kean alumna Ayana Baraka is the Director of Photography for a new film, Behind the Curtain: Eclipsed, set to air on Centric TV March 1. Behind the curtain follows the journey of Eclipsed, a play written by The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira, from humble beginnings to Broadway.

Written, directed and starring African women, Eclipsed, was the first ever all female and Pan-African production on Broadway. The play sheds light on the Liberian Civil War and the peace workers that helped to end that conflict. Eclipsed was nominated for six Tony awards. 

“To see this play on Broadway was a magical experience and it was a proud moment for me to document this historical event, to take a peek behind the curtain at how this play came to be and why,” said Baraka. “Working on this project as a black female Director of Photography and creating images that people of diverse backgrounds can reference as they pursue their dreams is profound. I did not have images of someone like me existing in these spaces but someone else will.”

Ayana graduated from Kean in 2009 with a B.A. in Communication Studies. She went on to graduate from the USC School of Cinematic Arts film program and has an M.F.A. in Film and Television Production. She was awarded the 2016 award for Best Cinematography at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival.

Ayana has worked as a cinematographer on several critically acclaimed documentaries and feature films including The Hunting Ground, one of the fifteen documentary films shortlisted for an Oscar nomination in 2015 in the Best Documentary Feature category. Both Behind the Curtain: Eclipsed and The Hunting Ground focus on marginalized groups, women empowering other women and sexual assault.  Ayana is passionate about creating work that is “self aware, vulnerable and honest” and uses film as a medium to “dissect humanity.”

“Connecting people and shedding light on our similarities has always been my favorite part about film making. These films are illuminating. They are inspiring. More importantly, they start the conversation,” said Baraka.