Learn more about To Foster Change here.
To Foster Change, a PBS SoCal social impact initiative, announces its latest installment of short documentaries directed and edited by foster youth. The Youth Voices program creates an opportunity for transitional age youth interested in the entertainment industry to work side-by-side with television and film industry professionals. Kicking off with a media training bootcamp, participants develop 3-5-minute video diaries during an intense multi-week period.
The Youth Voices program was created with a goal of expanding the narratives around foster care, while advancing the skills of aspiring filmmakers and preparing them for film and television production careers. In partnership with Justice for My Sister, a gender-inclusive, feminist, pro-immigrant rights organization, industry professionals Hilda Franco, Ocean Vashti Jude, Karla Legaspy, and Patricia Ovando, as well as lead instructor Kimberly Bautista, coached the young filmmakers in sharing their personal stories.
Learn more about the filmmakers participating in the 2020 series of Youth Voices program and hear what they gained from the experience below.
2020 Video Diaries
Meet each of the 2020 Youth Voices filmmakers and learn about their story below.
Jaci entered the California foster care system when they were 4 years old. Now, as an adult, they open up about their lifelong struggle with depression, as depicted by a lonely apartment, blocked out windows and an empty refrigerator. But allowing the love of others to shine through the darkness has taught them the importance and beauty of self-love as well.
Jaci currently lives in downtown Los Angeles, where they use her firsthand knowledge of the foster care system to advocate for youth who still live in it.
Jasmine grew up in foster care and has experienced homelessness. The ocean is the 25-year-old’s refuge when her memories of a painful past and negative self-talk overcome her. But she rises above her heartache as she reminds herself of her strength, her beauty and the dreams that motivate her to get out of bed every morning.
Jasmine currently lives in South Los Angeles and is studying to pursue a career to advocate for mental wellness in low-income communities as a psychologist or counselor. “I want to give people the opportunity to have their voices heard, to feel important.”
Above all, Jose identifies as a survivor. Showcasing many certificates awarded throughout his childhood, Jose remembers being told he was destined for greatness. This prediction, however, was thwarted by an abusive home. His search for love and acceptance landed him in the juvenile justice system and, eventually, in the foster care system.
Now living in East Los Angeles, Jose has turned a new leaf and is leaning on his love for learning to change his narrative.
Josh is a 23-year-old foster youth advocate and entertainment professional. Losing all the original footage for this documentary reminded Josh of the uncertainty he experienced constantly in foster care. But it also reminded him of his decision to overcome his fears and move from Detroit to Los Angeles to pursue an entertainment career. Learning to start over all the time has given Josh the opportunity to reinvent his reality every time. Follow along as he shares his story while visiting some of his favorite spots in the city he is now proud to call home.
Currently living in Los Angeles and studying world diplomacy and affairs at Santa Monica College, the Detroit native’s mission is to create spaces where communities can connect around their humanity.
Reeves is a young filmmaker from the Washington D.C. area currently studying at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. As he walks through the night, he shares a poetic and hopeful take on a life lived in the middle — whether it was in the middle of homelessness, or in between society’s gender expectations.
Passionate about screenwriting and photography, some of his previous projects include a documentary on the lives of homeless trans and nonbinary youth in Los Angeles.
An exploding bomb. Tangled and desperate whispers. Bridges collapsing during earthquakes. In her documentary, Jennifer juxtaposes the sights and sounds that best describe her bouts of anxiety with the soothing movements of dance, audio of waves washing ashore and the relief of deep breaths while watching sunsets.
Jennifer currently lives in Gardena, CA.