Manal Murangi headshot photo

Manal Murangi

Video Engineer
Science Communicator
Maryland Sea Grant

Tell us about your work/research. What kinds of things do you do?

I am a freelance filmmaker and photographer. I work on environmental documentaries, and a variety of other projects. My recent work has been in collaboration with Black in Marine Science, and The Studio Lab in Rhode Island. In fall of 2024, I will start my Masters in Marine Affairs at the University of Rhode Island.

What sparked your initial interest in your career?

My interest in filmmaking started when I saw the movie Moonlight in 2016. I had been interested in history and activism for a while, but wasn't sure how I wanted to approach it since politics and being a history professor didn't really interest me. Once I saw the combination of art and activism, I knew thats what I wanted to do. I started as a narrative filmmaker, but as I moved through college, I realized I wanted to create stories with communities, rather than just about them. During the pandemic, I re-discovered the love for the ocean I had as a kid, and with so many issues of justice and climate surrounding the oceans I had found my path. After I finished my undergraduate degree, I was granted the opportunity to be a Young Explorer on the vessel OceanXplorer, where I got to work with nature filmmakers, science communicators, and scientists. This solidified my resolve to create a career for myself in ocean filmmaking.

Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?

To be honest, I am really encouraged by the trailblazers who created their space in marine science and especially marine filmmaking. Especially as a Black person, I motivate myself by looking to those who already work in this field and thrive. I am also really encouraged by communities of friends and family, who make sure I know that showing up as myself is the best way to succeed in this field.

What element of your work/study do you think is the most fascinating?

I think the amount of ways people work with, on, and in the ocean is fascinating. The variety of careers you can have, and the different connections that can be drawn is truly incredible.

How did you get involved with the Ocean Exploration Trust?

I heard about the Video Engineering Internship from a former mapping intern while on another research vessel. I started my application for this program as soon as I got home from that vessel.

What other jobs led you to your current career?

Getting from a narrative filmmaker to an ocean filmmaker was quite a journey. I think the most valuable things was trying a variety of movie styles. I worked as an intern for a documentary streaming service, a nonprofit, even corporate. This helped me figure out what I did and didn't want from a career. Additionally, I tried to develop my artistic voice through delving into my personal and professional interests in my coursework and being president of the Association of Black Artists at my college. 
A huge part of leading me here was my love of learning and listening. Hearing others perspectives and learning about the different lived experiences of the world. It made me want to explore in a way that I truly felt narrative film wouldn't let me.

What are your degrees and certifications?

Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts - University of Maryland, Baltimore County 2021

What are your hobbies?

I love reading and being in nature in any capacity. I also love film photography and cuddling with my cats.

What advice would you give someone who wants to have a career like yours?

If you want to be a filmmaker of any kind, I say stay curious and talk to people. There is a large world out there and it can be so easy to just do what you know. But the best adventures are into the unknown.


Manal participated in the following Ocean Exploration Trust expeditions: