Kayhan Irani is an Emmy-award winning writer, a producer, and a Theater of the Oppressed trainer. She creates art, media and live events to build community and engage audiences in social justice issues. Clients include NGOs, government agencies, and community organizations interested in using in story-based strategies for mobilization, engagement, and education.
Kayhan was one of ten U.S. artists named as a 2016 White House Champion of Change for her art and storytelling work.
In 2010 Kayhan won a New York Emmy award for best writing for We Are New York a 9-episode broadcast TV drama used as an English language and civic engagement tool for immigrant New Yorkers. She created a linked, community-based conversation initiative that brought thousands of immigrants, throughout the five boroughs, together to practice English in volunteer-led conversation groups -- an initiative which is still active to this day. She also created comic books based on the series which were translated into 5 languages and distributed in NYC public hospitals, courts, CBOs and local meeting places.
In 2012-2013 Kayhan was a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Researcher in India working on her new play, Tree of Seeds. Her one-woman show, We've Come Undone toured nationally and internationally, telling stories of Arab, South Asian and Muslim-American women in the wake of 9/11. She has trained hundreds of groups in Theater of the Oppressed and participatory storytelling tools over the years, both nationally and overseas, in Afghanistan, India, and Iraq.
Kayhan’s work has been supported by the BBC World Service Trust, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bronx Council for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, The National Parks Service, and the American Society for Muslim Advancement. Her work has been written about in such publications as The New York Times, Race Forward Magazine, the N.Y. Daily News, and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.
Her published work includes Telling Stories to Change the World: Global Voices on the Power of Narrative to Build Community and Make Social Justice Claims (Routledge, 2008), and Culturally Relevant Arts Education for Social Justice: A Way Out of No Way. (Routledge, 2015).
Kayhan is a board member of freeDimensional, an organization helping artists around the world who are targeted because of their art.