Beyond Brilliant: Regina Louise
October 11, 2019

Beyond Brilliant: Regina Louise

UC Riverside alumna and foster youth advocate Regina Louise saw her memoir translated into an inspiring film for Lifetime

Author: Jessica Weber
October 11, 2019

Regina Louise has never known a “normal” childhood. Throughout her tumultuous youth, she was shuffled through over 30 foster homes and psychiatric facilities, all before the age of 18. 

Subjected to neglect, abuse, overmedication, and solitary confinement while in foster care, Louise’s trauma was compounded by a racially motivated ruling, which prevented her counselor, Jeanne Kerr, from adopting her in 1974 on the basis that Kerr was white and Louise was black.

Though she grew up in a system that led her to believe she was without value, Louise pursued her dream of higher education after aging out of foster care and became a successful author and advocate for foster youth.

Louise, who graduated with a master’s degree from UC Riverside’s creative writing program in 2015, has worked to share her story and advocate on behalf of children like her since the publication of her first memoir, “Somebody’s Someone.” Since 2003, she has served as a mentor, collaborated with social workers, and traveled to over 40 states and 6,000 cities to speak at events and bring awareness to the systemic failures that continue to affect foster youth today. 

In 2018, she published, “Someone Has Led This Child to Believe,” a memoir that began as her master’s thesis at UCR. Earlier this year, Louise saw her story transformed into a movie, a project she had championed since 2003. The culmination of all her years of hard work and perseverance, “I Am Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story,” debuted April 20 on Lifetime.

“For 16 years, I traveled across the country telling my story,” she said. “I wrote a one-woman show, and I would put it on anywhere I could — anything to just keep it relevant and alive and to see how I could use it to transform foster care and perceptions of foster children.”

The film starring Ginnifer Goodwin and newcomer Angela Fairly — a foster child herself — recounts not only the adversity Louise faced growing up, but the loving bond she formed with Kerr. After a failed adoption attempt, Louise and Kerr were separated for nearly 30 years. They reunited in 2003, and Kerr later adopted Louise as an adult in the same courthouse where they lost the previous legal battle. Lifetime also partnered with several youth and adoption organizations on a public service announcement that aired during the movie’s premiere.

“I want everybody who watches this, those of us lost, broken, forgotten about, and unaccounted for, to know that we are the hope — we are the hope that each of us is waiting for,” Louise said. “You have the permission to stand in your dignity and want for love, want to be actualized, want to connect, and go through life on your terms, unapologetically, for you.”

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