"I hope that children are able to connect," actress Angela Fairley on the Regina Louise story depicted in 'I'm Somebody's Child'
Lifetime's recent film 'I am Somebody's Child: The Regina Louise Story' highlights the journey of a teenage African American girl who went through over 30 foster care homes and psychiatric facilities before turning 18 during the 70s.
The film shows the beautiful bond that the teenager forms with shelter worker Jeanne Kerr (played by Ginnifer Goodwin), who seems to be the only one who believes in her. The two become very close while Regina is still a teenager and Jeanne attempts to adopt her as her daughter, a process that is stopped due to a racially motivated court ruling. The story shows how one woman's belief and love becomes her entire support system as she navigates through a corrupt and difficult system.
Finally, after 25 years, Jeanne is able to adopt Regina, when she is 41 years old, in the same courthouse which had initially denied the adoption.
Regina is the bestselling author of her most recent memoir 'Someone has led this child to believe' and the National bestseller 'Somebody's Someone,' both of which form the spine of the movie which chronicles her difficult and bumpy path while she navigated the foster care system. Her story is one of determination, grit, and resilience and she was most recently awarded the United States Department of Human Services Individual Achievement Award for being able to reduce the number of minority children in foster care via adoption.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) spoke to Angela Fairley -- who plays Regina in the Lifetime movie and was a foster child herself, who opened up about her experience working on the film. "It was a great experience to get to be there with Regina. Reading her book that the movie is based on called 'Somebody's Someone' was very helpful in the understanding of what she was going through, her relationship with Jeanne, that passion and love with Jeanne, which is a lot of the drive throughout the film," Fairley shared.
"It is also about finding the love for herself," Fairley added.
On the aspect of playing such an emotionally heavy role, Fairley revealed that she has done such work previously and she had "a healthy way of coming out of it".
"Having Regina there to talk to every day, if I ever felt anything or a scene was a little much afterward, there were so many who were supportive to talk it out," she shared.
The film shows the darker side of the foster care system and is set in a time when racial discrimination was rampant. Given the number of children who have to navigate this vast and chaotic system, there is still a long way to go in terms of reform and change. When it comes to what message Fairley wants viewers to take away from the movie, she said, "Everyone will take something different away. I don't feel like I ever want to force what I want someone to take away from it."
"I hope that definitely children (especially little black girls) see themselves in the film and they feel represented and see what they can overcome and what can happen for them. People may not be in the situation Regina was in - it could be lighter or heavier but knowing that anyone in any situation can choose to pull themselves out of it and choose to build their lives," she shared.
"Children feel kind of trapped and there is not much access to the outside world aside from their home environment but being able to see through the tv something happen- what this girl was in and where this girl got herself. That is something I really hope that children are able to connect with and maybe give them hopes and drives," Fairley continued.
As for adults, Fairley shared, "I hope that they think of how they are speaking to children. Reflect on how we are talking to children - 'What am I saying to my child?' and 'Am I supporting them with their dreams? Am I pushing their dreams away? How am I interacting and speaking to my child and how is that going to affect them later?' This is something important for adults and also those who want to be involved in foster care - looking at the foster care system and seeing what could be done there, what may be happening to children around them and they don't realize."
The denial of adoption to Jeanne meant that Regina spent her teenage years institutionalized and also heavily medicated. Regina Louise's story is one of hope and dreams, and her memoirs and the film they inspired certainly shed the necessary light on an extremely corrupt system which needs a massive makeover.