Photos via IMDb
Written by: Alex Kamnitzer |
The movie Freedom Writers (starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey), features a group of troubled students in Long Beach, California who are inspired by a teacher, Mrs. Gruwell, who truly cares for them. The movie is based on a the book Freedom Writers which is a collection of journal entries by Mrs. Gruwell and her students. On May 9th, the students of Mrs. Chausse’s and Ms. Iverson’s Creative Writing classes were able to have a Skype chat with one of the actual people in the Freedom Writers program, Darrius Garrett, whose character is Marcus in the film.
He began with his life story and how he met Mrs. Gruwell. “I had gotten arrested for drug possession and wasn’t even supposed to go back to Woodrow Wilson High School.” Darrius explained that before he was in Mrs. Gruwell’s class she had come into one of his other classes, and he noticed that she seemed overly happy. In comparison to his other teachers, who he compared to babysitters, she appeared to be on drugs because she showed passion for what she was doing.
Students in our Creative Writing classes wondered about the accuracy of the film. Darrius said that overall it was fairly accurate, but there were some situations that were exaggerated. He had told the screenplay writers various stories many of which were blown out of proportion. Darrius used a casual tone and was not afraid to tell us the truth. “I did a lot of things that I am not happy of,” and he had shut down because he was homeless on and off. With the help of Mrs. Gruwell and meaningful assignments, like journaling, he was given hope that he “would make it out of 1996.”
Darrius currently has a career with his love for rapping and poetry. He also volunteers at juvenile centers. He finds that working there gives him a sense of selflessness. Rather than doing something only for himself like poetry or rapping (even though he does enjoy them) he would rather give his time to those people would would benefit from it. “At the end of the road, at the end of my life I want to be a legend with everything I did” is his philosophy, and overall, the Skype interview was inspiring to all of us who attended.