Motell Foster, an inaugural member of the Children’s Rights Young Professional Leadership Council, spent 14 years in Alabama’s foster care system. He has a bachelor’s degree from The University of Alabama and now lives in New York City where he is in his final year at NYU Tisch’s Graduate Acting Program.CR: What motivated you to join CR’s Young Professional Leadership Council?
MF: One of my mentors, Karen Baynes-Dunning, is a court-appointed monitor for CR’s Kenny A. case in metro Atlanta. Prior to the summer I told her I wanted to get away from theater to spend time advocating for foster youth. I also told her I wanted a thorough education on the child welfare system. Consequently, I worked with different players within the system and several organizations that monitor it. This is how I connected with CR. When the Council came up, it was a no-brainer. CR’s a very impactful organization — but, like most, there is a need for more constituent voices. This is where I come in.
CR: You have a passion for the arts. Why?
MF: As a kid, I experienced a lot of neglect and trauma. This led me to favoring imaginative worlds over reality. Daydreaming, anime and role-play are some of the things that made life bearable. Of course, it’s a larger conversation — but acting and theater have provided me the time and distance, via role-play, to unpack my trauma; specifically, the patterns attached to it. This art is the lens through which I’ve seen more of myself.
CR: What does the future hold for you?
MF: I believe I’ll do well as an actor. I’m really excited about the possibility, but I don’t think about it a ton. Currently, one of my big aims is to find the best way to provide the trauma-unpacking benefits of role-play to foster youth. I’m in the early stages of creating a Drama-Therapy frame-work for just that. I have high hopes.
CR: What is the one accomplishment you are most proud of?
MF: I usually try to veer from that lane of thinking, but I’m proud of the awareness and action that I’ve helped to cultivate in my networks on behalf of foster youth. Thankfully, it’s just the beginning.
Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: https://www.childrensrights.org/publication/notes-from-the-field-fall-2016/