Troubled Teen Trades Violence for Camera

A young woman in South Los Angeles is trading her violent past for a video camera in order to break the cycle of violence in her neighborhood.
When she was 12, Claudia Gómez lost her sister to a violent ex-boyfriend. Her grief became anger which led to violence and she hurt people. But everything changed when she became pregnant and had a daughter. She turned her life around and began working at FREE L.A. High, a charter school that educates students who've spent time in the correctional system. In addition to a traditional education, students at FREE L.A. High learn about social justice and community organizing. 
Now, Claudia is working with documentary filmmaker Jennifer Maytorena Taylor to film and produce thoughtful and honest interviews with former teen offenders about their lives.

From KQED's California Report:

JAKE DE GRAZIA, REPORTER: Claudia Gómez sits next to a video camera. She wears tight jeans, Air Jordan high tops, hoop earrings, and long, pink fingernails. She's 20 years old, and she's talking to a student named Cris. He's 19, and he finished a seven-month stay in a juvenile detention facility two weeks before this interview.
GÓMEZ: What's like the number one thing you think nobody knows about you ... that now we're gonna know?
CRIS: Uh, that, uh, I'm not really, like, I'm not a disrespectful type of dude, like, my insides are like, I ain't disrespectful none.
GÓMEZ: That's cool. I knew that.
CRIS: Thank you...

The series will air this summer on

Liz Wu is a Digital Accounts Manager at Prichard Communications, where she oversees digital outreach for Reclaiming Futures and edits Reclaiming Futures Every Day. Before joining the Prichard team, Liz established the West Coast communications presence for the New America Foundation, where she managed all media relations, event planning and social media outreach for their 6 domestic policy programs. Liz received a B.A. in both Peace and Conflict Studies and German from the University of California at Berkeley. She tweets from @LizSF.

Updated: May 25 2012