Grand Avenue (How I Got to Be a Queen)

Institute History

  • 1992 June Screenwriters Lab


HOW I GOT TO BE QUEEN is a moving inside look at the struggles of an American Indian family, showing the inner strength and power of these people to survive. These Indians are, like many others, from a small central California tribe (Kashaya Pomo) finding their way through the latter part of the twentieth century.

The story follows Alice Potter, a fourteen year old, as she attempts to keep her wildly problematic family together and preserve their traditional values. Alice cooks and cares for her younger brothers and copes with the troublesome antics of an older beautiful sister. Mollie, the children's mother, attempts to deal with her alcoholism and find order in her life. The family has moved from town to town and from welfare agency to welfare agency. At fourteen, Alice has set up and packed up over two dozen homes.

The story takes place over one summer in a rough urban neighborhood in Santa Rosa, California, where the family has relocated with the help of Auntie, a long lost relative of Millie's. It is here that Alice, who has always been the "Mother" of her family, learns her family history and begins her journey of self-discovery. Auntie and Nellie James, a medicine woman from the neighborhood, teach Alice about her tribal lore and culture while Anthony Patrick, a good-hearted young black man, helps her acknowledge that she too needs love.

It is during this summer that Alice's determination to keep her family together is severely tested. In her single gallant act at the end of the story, Alice succeeds in all her efforts. It is not only her family that knows she is "the Queen" but the entire neighborhood.


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