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American author, film director, screenwriter, and child advocate, Antwone Fisher (b. 1959) was in orphanages, foster care, and a reform school throughout his childhood. 

Antwone was born in prison in Ohio to a teenage mother, Eva Mae Fisher. Eva was placed in foster care after the death of her mother when she was thirteen and was incarcerated during her pregnancy. Antwone’s father, Edward Elkins, was shot and killed before he was born. Antwone was made a ward of the state at birth and placed into foster care. He spent the first two years of his life with a caring foster family.  

Antwone’s next placement was with the Pickett family, where he was physically, verbally & emotionally abused. Antwone was also sexually abused by a babysitter, Willenda, was secret he kept for many years. 

 And it wasn’t really the fear of her punishing me that kept me from telling anyone for all those years. It was the unspeakable shame I felt about what went on with her in the basement, and my unspeakable shame that maybe it was my fault (Fisher, 44).

During his twelve years in the abusive foster home, Antwone experienced a high turn-over of social workers assigned to his case, which was likely a contributing factor as to why he was allowed to remain in the placement. During this time, Antwone was almost completely disconnected from his mother.  

The truth was, I was ambivalent about any mention of my mother. But for all my years of nightmares and waking up in tears, Mizz Picket never comforted me… No one ever told me that during this period, my mother had, in fact, been in touch with social services in the hopes of meeting me (Fisher, 157).  

At the age of fourteen, Antwone was removed from his abusive foster home. He spent six months in an orphanage before being placed in a penal institution for teenage boys in western Pennsylvania where he remained until he graduated from high school. At age seventeen, Antwone became homeless on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio after beingemancipated’ from the care system.   

Antwone joined the navy, where he served for eleven years. Military service was a highly positive, life-changing experience for Antwone, who was stationed both within the United States and abroad. He earned numerous medals while on active duty and was honourably discharged at the rank of E-5 (SH2).  

Antwone began to search for his family after completing military service. He found his aunt first, and was eventually reunited with his mother. This helped Antwone find forgiveness and bring closure to his traumatic childhood. 

Antwone was employed as a Federal Corrections Officer with the Federal Bureau of Prisons for three years. Then, his post-military career took a new route when he began working as a Security Officer at Sony Pictures Studios. 

…at Terminal Island I was a guard hired to keep people from busting out and here at Sony Pictures I’m a guard trying to keep people on the outside from breaking in (Fisher, 302). 

Eight months into his employment at Sony Pictures, Antwone began writing the screenplay for his life story. In 2002, his screenplay became a feature film by 20th Century Fox under the title Antwone Fisher. His accompanying memoir, Finding Fish, won an American Library Association’s Bests Book for Young Adult award in 2002.  

Antwone continues to work as a screenwriter, director, and producer in Hollywood. He has also published a national best-selling volume of poetry Who Will Cry for the Little Boy? His third book, A Boy Should Know How to Tie a Tie, won the 2011 NAACP award for best Literary Work, Instructional. He has taught writing at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television and the UCLA Extension Writers Program. 

Antwone Fisher has won numerous awards. The Antwone Fisher film has been recognised as AFI Movie of the Year, NAACP Award, Outstanding Motion picture Award, and a ShoWest Screenwriter of the year award. He was awarded with an Honorary PhD from Cleveland State University in 2003.  

Antwone testified before the Senate Finance committee as a child rights advocate on April 23, 2013. In his testimony, he advocated for better transition planning for children and young people as they exit the care system, including career planning and encouragement to pursue higher education.  

I feel that the reason a great number of former foster children eventually land in prisons is because the children are not explained that they will have to plan for their adult lives ahead of time or be told of how to avoid unscrupulous situations and people who may lead them down a path of dire circumstances and consequences. Perhaps an ongoing conversation about preparing for a future much in the same way that many traditional families discuss college education for their children might help foster youth understand that there will come a time when they will be responsible for their decisions and be empowered to think about a future (The United States Senate Committee).


“Awards and Grants: Finding Fish”. American Library Association. 

“Antwone Fisher.” The History Makers. 

“Biography.” Antwone Fisher. 

Fisher, Antwone Quenton, with Rivas, Mim Eichler. (2001). Finding Fish: A Memoir. New York, William Morrow Publishing. 

“Full Committee Hearing: The Antwone Fisher Story as a Case Study for Child Welfare.” The United States Senate Committee on Finance. 23 April  2013. 

Image available here.