New Film Highlights TFC’s Kim Carter
By Dianne Anderson
Behind the glitz of all that Hollywood brings to the big screen are women caught in the grip of a whole spectrum of homelessness, addiction and incarceration, but that’s not where their stories end.
It’s where they rebuild their future that counts.
For women’s activist Kim Carter, an upcoming film featuring class acts Taraji P. Henson and Jennifer Hudson will help raise awareness of what many women face daily, and empower them to move beyond their past.
Their fight starts with fair access to healthcare, affordable housing, and extricating or keeping their children from the trap of the foster system, often tied to racism, poverty and oppression.
She believes the film serves a higher calling.
“I’m only getting a blessing because I’m being a blessing,” said Carter, founder of Time for Change Foundation. “It’s one more tool God is using to help women. We’re just being used as a vessel for the greater good.”
An Iervolino Entertainment project, ‘Tell It Like a Woman,’ features Academy Award winner Taraji P. Henson, who will direct Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson portraying ‘Pepcy & Kim,’ in one segment of the anthology. In it, Carter’s journey and early life’s battles as Pepcy in many ways resemble the women she serves today.
The segment was written by Catherine Hardwicke, recognized for directing the blockbusters Twilight and Thirteen.
Women who come through Time for Change doors are overcoming trauma on top of trauma in a process toward independence. As the upcoming film circulates to greater audiences nationally, and likely internationally, the hope is that women everywhere can see how their vulnerable moments do not define them.
Carter views her own past experiences through addiction and prison of her early years as a journey to help reach women today in a more authentic way. Nothing has been wasted.
“[It’s] exposing my true story and getting it out the way so I can move through this world without shame or regret, or having to look back,” she said.
Since starting 20 years ago, Carter has had hundreds of stories written across several media, starting with the Precinct Reporter, about her efforts through her nonprofit. In 2015, she was recognized as a top ten CNN hero and recognized in numerous news sources, including Steve Harvey. James Irvine and California Endowment have all spotlighted her successful reentry methods to benefit women from the Inland Empire to the Bay area.
The movie has been a couple of years in the making.
As a result of Carter’s 2015 Top Ten Hero nomination, Catherine Hardwicke had contacted and met with Kim and heard her story, and wrote the script through the uprising of Black Lives Matter.
Since Hardwicke felt it would be best to have a Black woman direct the movie, Carter heard back earlier from Hardwicke this year telling her that she was ready to move quickly on the movie, and that it would be directed by Henson.
“Getting the attention with this international project, we hope to inspire more women and garner much needed resources to continue our work,” Carter said.
‘Tell it Like a Woman’ producer Chiara Tilesi—founder of non-profit film production company We Do It Together —added: “‘Tell It Like A Woman’ has been a very long journey, almost six years producing this film, and we couldn’t have asked for a better ending segment in ‘Pepcy & Kim’….”
After Jennifer Hudson finishes up a press tour for her biopic about Aretha Franklin, Respect, Carter said they expect to start on the film. Most of all, she hopes to increase understanding of women’s rights, the importance of the women’s movement to help low-income families and get to the root of the problem.
Often, it starts with stopping the cycle of violence against women.
“When we talk about women’s direction, control of our destiny and our own bodies, we see paternalism in society. They don’t recognize our rights. Women have to continue to fight for our rights, and push ourselves forward,” she said.
One of the most rewarding aspects of her program has been watching over 1,700 women grow toward their potential. They’ve graduated, emerged, and many can get their children back home.
“There are 305 children out of foster care back with their mothers. We intervene because their mothers have no opportunities to access safe affordable housing conducive to reuniting children,” she said.
At the same time, she believes women must change the narrative about their own situations. Rape and abuse, even childhood abuse, may be their common reality, but more importantly, is to begin to see themselves beyond their victimizations.
“Their lives are so much bigger and grander than that,” Carter said.
Part of the solution is what she has achievd in the Bay Area in recent times, focused on building affordable housing. The program has helped hundreds of women extricate their children out of the foster system.
“We can’t talk about how the system is gobbling up children unless we have women with access to safe and decent housing. We’re going to have more children going through foster care [with] adverse childhood experiences which lead to further problems down the road,” she said.
Carter also advocated for policy change, the most recent being the Adoption Safe Family Act. The law mandates that courts terminate parental rights within two years of their kids entering foster care.
But adopting kids out based on the timeline is wrecking lives, particularly since the pandemic, she added.
Because COVID shut down social services at times, even forcing the courts to reschedule, it is making it an extreme hardship on low-income mothers.
Of the cases she advocates, one example is a young woman who had not neglected or abused her baby, but tested positive for drugs. The infant was taken in Tennessee where the woman went to jail, got out, but promptly transferred to California on an old ticket warrant. Interstate probation restrictions prevented her from returning to Tennessee, even as her infant is now being fast-tracked into adoption there.
Carter said addiction is a medical condition for the rich, but a prison sentence for the poor.
“You’re going to put this baby in foster care for life — as if these foster care kids are coming out good,” she said. “If she had money, her children would have gone to grandparents or rich aunts and uncles.”
Most of all, she said it’s important that the upcoming film depicts women in their own voice, not the stereotype.
The main takeaway is they can have a fresh start.
“You don’t have to continue on in this legacy of generational poverty, of addiction, conducive to the environment that we were bred in. At some point we can start all over and here’s a place called Time for Change where you get to change,” she said.
To support Time for Change Foundation, www.TimeForChangeFoundation.org