Our Founder and CEO Jill Gurr worked as a script supervisor on the film Menace II Society in 1992, around the time of the LA Riots. Experiencing first-hand the reality of life on the streets drove her to make a difference. She taught a screenwriting workshop at Optimist Youth Homes, a boys’ detention center in Highland Park, CA. Jill co-wrote a script called “Retaliation” with a group of 30 incarcerated teenage boys.
She discovered that many of these kids were illiterate, but when her program ended, they had learned how to read and write. Others wanted to go back to school and enter college. One gang leader even had loyalty tattoos removed from his neck and hands.
Jill was compelled to teach a second screenwriting workshop. This time it was with a group of coed teens at another juvenile detention facility where they co-wrote “Gangsta Love.” The impact was just as powerful. Youth who were facing major challenges had developed new skills, confidence and goals to change their lives.
Impressed by Jill’s idea and passion to help these youth, Leslie Stevens (producer of the Outer Limits and a professor at the American Film Institute) donated $5,000 for Jill to start a nonprofit organization.
The organization was founded in 1996 and initially named Write Now! with the mission to teach literacy through different forms of creative writing. However, Jill realized that many youth preferred other types of artistic expression. In 1998, our name was changed to Create Now to include all forms of creativity, such as music, dance, culinary arts and fashion.
Click here to watch Jill’s TEDx Talk in Beverly Hills about why she founded Create Now and how you can make a difference.