Virginia Ward Ford is not afraid of a fight especially not when the welfare of African American children is on the line. Then she is “fearless” and “relentless” and where superheroines are drawn for comic book mythology, here, we have a real-life warrior who battled over school vouchers in the nation’s capital.
Ford knew that her son deserved better and fought to get her son into a private school — with the government footing the bill.
Virginia Walden Ford is known as a dedicated and effective Black D.C. activist who shook it up in the late 1990s and 2000s pushing for vouchers despite the opposition by many Democratic leaders in the District.
It didn’t stop her, in fact, the obstacles motivated her more.
In the movie version of her life — “Miss Virginia” — Virginia Walden Ford is played by Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”). The release of the film seems to be fitting perfectly to reflect our current political climate. If you follow education news then you know that the Trump administration is pushing for an expansion of vouchers and as Democratic presidential candidates debate school choice.
The movie begins in 2003 and Ford’s youngest son is struggling in a neighborhood public high school that’s filled with violence and limited educational opportunities.
A single mother, Ford is terrified for her son and wants to enroll him in a private school that she simply cannot afford. Always determined to find the money she watches in frustration was the streets begin to lure her son away. When she learns of a voucher program that exists in other jurisdictions she motivates residents to champion the program in the district.
When faced with no support from her congresswoman Ford and other passionate and concerned parents team up with a White lawmaker (not from D.C.) who succeeds in pushing through the legislation.
What makes her situation even more interesting is that more than a dozen states have voucher programs, but the District is unique because Congress can enact a voucher program even if local lawmakers do not want it. It gets even deeper. The city is home to the nation’s only federally funded voucher program, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act, which sends more than 1,000 students to private schools.
Virginia Walden Ford did not rest. After Congress approved the voucher program, she continued advocating for expanded school choice in the District through the group she founded, D.C. Parents for School Choice.
“Miss Virginia” is based on the life of Virginia Walden Ford and stars Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”), Matthew Modine, Aunjanue Ellis (“The Help”) and Niles Fitch (“This Is Us”). The film is directed by R. J. Daniel Hanna and written by Erin O’Connor.
“Miss Virginia” is now playing in theaters across the country and on iTunes and video on demand.
Here is what the real-life Virginia Walden Ford had to share about the feature film based on her life, “Miss Virginia.” This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
LOS ANGELES SENTINEL: Did you ever think that your life would become a feature film?
VIRGINIA WALDEN FORD: No, not in a million years.
LAS: Is “Miss Virginia” political?
VWF: No. Our film is not political. We kept our focus. When we were marching in the halls of Congress, the only policy we thought about is how we can get better options for our kids.
LAS: Is the film true to your story? Did it capture your struggles and disappointments?
VWF: Yes, the film captured all of that.
LAS: What did you think when the filmmakers approached you to make a film about your life and this struggle?
VWF: It took the producers several months to convince me and us. It was not an easy decision. It was kind of scary for us. We weren’t afraid of anyone. We were soldiers. We were tough but this was pretty scary.
LAS: So what turned you around?
VWF: I thought it was a way to honor the legislative fight. It is about all of us who fought. This is a story that belongs to parents all over the country.
LAS: What do you think kept you and your teams motivation going?
VWF: We were fighting for your children, for our babies. We all spent a lot of time together and we are like a family. It’s been an amazing journey that we have been on.
LAS: Are you happy with actress Uzo Aduba (“Orange is the New Black”) playing you?
VWF: Are you kidding? Absolutely. I could not be happier. Having our struggles made into a movie is the coolest thing, ever.
LAS: What’s next for you?
VWF: I have a new book, School Choice: A Legacy to Keep. It’s available Nov. 21, 2019. People can preorder it
LAS: I promise I will add the link.
VWF: Thank you.
The link to the book, “School Choice: A Legacy to Keep.”
You can also learn more about Virginia’s life at www.VirginiaWaldenFord.com and more about the film at www.MissVirginiaMovie.com.