Meet The Game Changers Class of 2015
Rafael Flores is an award-winning activist, educator and filmmaker of Mexican-Lithuanian descent. He has been directing and producing films for over eleven years and is a Phi Beta Kappa Scholar. Rafael holds a Masters of Fine Arts from San Francisco State University specializing in Third Cinema, directing, screenwriting, and post-production. He is also the co-founder of Green Eyed Media, a production company that represents Indigenous, Latino, and Black artists who are dedicated to improving public health, environmental justice, and cultural equity. His work has been praised internationally by various institutions that include: The White House, TED-X, Cannes Independent Film Festival, Writer’s Guild Theater of America, London Guardian, Mexico International Film Festival, the Alliance for Boys & Men of Color, and Golden Lion Film Festival in Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa.
Iyabo Kwayana is a cinematographer and director of both documentary and narrative films who has a keen interest in the human condition and all things transcendent. Born in Guyana, South America to a Guyanese father and African-American mother, Iyabo spent the earliest years of her life moving through various cultures; she became intrigued by culture and both the distinctive and universal experiences within humanity. Iyabo is also an educator who has designed and implemented a film-based curriculum to students in California and Brazil. She received her BA from Spelman College with a major in English Literature and a minor in French Literature. In January of 2015, she has received her MFA from UCLA’s graduate school completing the dual requirements for cinematography and directing MFA in production tracks. She has been the recipient of several awards, including the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship in Tanzania, the U.C. Cuba Fellowship, and the FLAS fellowship for Portuguese language and the implementation of her youth film curriculum in Bahia, Brazil.
Walter Lewis is a creator, a poet, writer, emcee, entrepreneur, filmmaker and father. While others may see these roles as disparate, Walter views them as vehicles to foster change in the world and educate future generations. Walter received his B.S. from Cheyney University in computer science and his M.S. from Carnegie Mellon University in Computational Biology, and has conducted research at Brookhaven National Lab, Wistar Institute and Carnegie Mellon University. His research ranged from cancer progression and insertion sequence element identification to gene regulation and development. Although his educational background consists primarily of science and technology Walter has always been engaged in creative work, however, it was his desire to educate youth and a passion for social justice and community activism that led him to his current work. Walter works to support students on their journey to and through college as Program Manager/Student Advocate for Homewood Children’s Village. After years of freelancing as photographers and filmmakers Walter and his wife founded In A Reel, LLC in 2014. Through In A Reel, Walter has been able to use film and photography as a medium for education and storytelling. Walter currently lives, works and worships in Pittsburgh’s Homewood community with his wife Stephanie and two daughters Amya and Eden.
Brennan Maine is an artist and a filmmaker recently moved and established in Pittsburgh, PA.
She discovered her interest in film when she took a video activism class at Allegheny College. The class stirred Brennan’s belief in social advocacy and she wants to express the stories of underrepresented groups in America. Since then she has produced several documentaries on: black identity in America, expressions of femininity, and other experimental and personal documentaries. Brennan thinks that in order to make sense of the world around us it must begin with an understanding of our personal selves. What she represents through the Game Changers Project is a fresh start and a release from the ageless stance between black and white. Due to her biracial upbringing she believes that there are many shades of grey that lie in the spectrum between black and white, that one’s experience is not more legitimate than the other and that white cannot exist without black. Her goal is to expand thinking and allow those shades of grey to shine through.
Ever since this artist found his purpose he has been unstoppable. As a director, producer, cinematographer, and the creator of Mississippi On the Rise, Sekou McGlothin has earned the respect of major players in the entertainment industry. He has worked on several projects including; Murder In Black and White, a TV One mini-series, Prom Night in Mississippi, a Morgan Freeman assisted HBO documentary, the Ford Focus Race Across America Challenge, the History Channels’ Full Metal Jousting, The Edge, a JSU TV series, Fat State of Mine, a Project Change documentary, Soul Food Junkies, which debuted on PBS’s Independent Lens, Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Can I Kick It? and Kai Production/Reel Walk Cinema’s documentary B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Being the co-owner of Kai Productions/Reel Walk Cinema, there is no time for lackluster moments in Sekou’s hectic world. Forever known as the creatively innovating, fearless filmmaker, Sekou is never shaken or distracted. He is always focused and fully immersed in his passion, his community and his art. Sekou continues to tackle issues that others dare not touch, shining beauty on what might appear otherwise bleak at first glance. This pioneer is truly making a mark in the film industry.
Justin Louis Murrell
Justin Louis Murrell is a writer, photographer & filmmaker who works as an Intergenerationalist committed to the functional future of society. He studies, writes and speaks on the topics of: creativity, entertainment, entrepreneurship, leadership and sociology. Justin is a student at the Community College of Allegheny County where he is pursuing his B.S. in Sports, Arts and Entertainment Management. His goal as a filmmaker is to produce films that will help people understand the power of choice, challenge limitations placed upon them, and live a meaningful life. Justin believes becoming a Game Changers fellow is a significant opportunity because it will allow him to create work that will ultimately help people develop a different opinion of African American males and other underrepresented groups than the one traditional media may present.
Njaimeh Njie is a multimedia producer who works across video, photography, writing, and film programming. In 2010 she earned her B.A. in Film and Media Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Afterward she spent three years as a high school English teacher in St. Louis at Northwest Academy of Law. She is currently based in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, and her work centers the union of art, education, and activism. Njaimeh has filmed and produced micro-documentaries for social justice organizations throughout the city, she is developing a documentary series as a resident at Most Wanted Fine Art Gallery. Njaimeh is also a resident at BOOM Concepts where she hosts Pop Up Premieres– the film series she founded and curates. Njaimeh believes a camera and a focused, fresh perspective behind it is an invaluable tool for changing the dominant narrative about black people in America and throughout the Diaspora.
Yvetta “Kai” Williams
Kai was noted as one of the most outstanding young, independent filmmakers emerging from Jackson, Mississippi. In 2004 she was named one of four Emerging Filmmakers to Watch. Her film Broken Silence won “Best Short” at the 2005 Tupelo Film Festival, thus began a career of honors, awards and outstanding film work. Kai’s passion for filmmaking is matched only by her exuberant pride for her home state of Mississippi. An independent filmmaker with a slew of projects under her belt, Kai has focused her craft towards spotlighting Mississippi’s rich history, emerging local talent, as well as raising awareness on current issues and events that affect the people around her. As the co-owner of Kai Productions/Reel Walk Cinema, Kai has worked on original projects such as JSU TV series The Edge and DirectLine; Prom Night in Mississippi, a Morgan Freeman-assisted HBO documentary; Murder in Black and White, a TV One four-part original series; and Soul Food Junkies, which debuted on PBS’s Independent Lens. She directed and co-produced both B.R.E.A.T.H.E. and Mississippi On The Rise. Kai is also the creator & producer of Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Can I Kick It? Today Kai serves as the Director of the City of Jackson’s PEG Network, there, she continues to bring thought provoking, high quality programing to the metropolitan area.
Four months ago Troy Williams was serving a life sentence in San Quentin State Prison. While incarcerated Williams went from participant to facilitator of numerous self-help programs, victim offender education groups, mental health & wellness workshops, and domestic violence & violence prevention classes. Williams is also the founder of several San Quentin programs, which include media production and financial literacy.
Williams’ prison film production began after participating in a documentary production class directed by Bruce Synofsky at San Quentin Film School. Soon after he founded the San Quentin Prison Report. On November 12th, 2014, Williams received an Excellence in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Williams specializes in creating and producing multi-camera promos and news packages designed to convert negative urban experiences into transformative tools for social change. He currently works as a freelance columnist for the Oakland Post newspaper, a radio reporter for Life of The Law, and an independent videographer for 4north22 Productions– a production company he is currently building.