Young Hollywood: “Get Lit Is Changing The Game For Youth Creative Expression!"

December 9, 2023

Get Lit featured in an amazing article by Skylar Zachian in Young Hollywood. Read an excerpt below! 

"If you love poetry, film, music, or any other form of creative expression, you’ll definitely want to learn about Get Lit - Words Ignite. A Non Profit Organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to increase literacy and empower youth, Get Lit has numerous unique opportunities for youth in L.A. and across the globe.

Get Lit started in 2006 by introducing young people to classic poetry in new and exciting ways. The organization created a program for schools that invites youth to choose poetry that speaks to them, interpret and bring the pieces to life through performance, and then respond with their own original spoken word poems.

Founder Diane Luby Lane explains that it is “really important that a young person claims the piece that speaks to them. If I make you memorize a poem, it’s not fun if it is something you don’t personally relate to. If you claim a poem, you can represent it in a more powerful, deep way.”

It’s not hyperbole to say that hundreds of thousands of TikTok users would agree! Check out this viral clip of a Get Lit spoken-word performance!

She also notes that Get Lit initiatives “started as an in-school program, but kids didn’t want to stop! They went after school, and then we started the Get Lit Players, a group of kids that would meet every week and memorize more and more poems. They would do amazing performances, traveling across the country to do all these cool shows.”

Over the years, the Get Lit Players have performed at the White House 3 times, opened for John Legend at the Hollywood Bowl, and have performed at the Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center!

How did Get Lit expand over the years to include other forms of artistic expression? When heading to events, the Players would bring along some of their friends who were videographers. Diane Luby Lane “would hire grown-ups to film them, and sometimes the footage we got from the younger people was better than the footage we got from the people we hired! We started to realize that poetry is more than just poets. It’s a community. We need people who know how to host live shows, and DJ at the shows, and film them, and it kind of grew to incorporate all kinds of young people with all different talents.”

The first major film project that the group undertook ended up opening for the Sundance Film Festival in 2019! The director, Carlos Lopez Estrada, who is an Oscar-nominated film director and a talented music video director, “had his brain just blown” when he watched the Players perform. Apparently, “he couldn’t believe all of the parts of L.A. that these young people represent and all of their different stories. He said, 'What if they each create their own little vignette and tell me how they see it being shot?', and that’s exactly what they did!"

Get Lit currently offers the Get Lit Player program, free Saturday drop-in classes for any young person who wants to come, a monthly open-mic night, filmmaker and screenwriter labs, and mixtape master classes! They’ve also developed full-year in-school courses that satisfy curriculum requirements, including the new Ethnic Studies requirement in California school districts! Plus, for those in California and outside of California, Get Lit recently launched a platform called "Uni(verse)" that can connect poets not just across classrooms but also across the world! A teacher will instruct the course live, and “students can write their poems online, create online portfolios, film and post videos of them, and communicate with other students across the globe.”

Just last Saturday (December 2), Get Lit hosted a Gala with the goal of raising enough money to make their curriculum (including the Classic Slam competition, Poetic Convergence where they train student leaders and teachers, and school visits from the Get Lit Players) free for all new interested schools. The Gala honoredAnderson .Paak and celebrated their supporters VANS and WME. Also featured at the Gala were Get Lit Poets along with the National Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S. Salome Agbaroji and LAUSD Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho.

Board Member Geffri Maya Hightower and her castmates from the hit show “All American” also attended in support of the organization.

Chances are, you know Anderson .Paak as an 8-time Grammy-winning rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer. He recently formed the duo Silk Sonic with Bruno Mars, and they worked together to write hit songs like “Leave The Door Open”. But did you know that he also started The Brandon Anderson Foundation? Their .Paak House initiative provides an outlet for community outreach, summer programs, and more.

In 2024, Get Lit is partnering with .Paak House to create a brand new opportunity — The Get Lit Creative Lab! This free experience will offer youth ages 12-19 the ability to create in the realms of writing, film, and music as well as be mentored by industry giants! When asked what the Creative Lab will look like, Diane Luby Lane said, “We have this office at the Granada building in L.A. right outside of Koreatown. It is such a beautiful space, and we have film equipment, editing equipment, and art, and our vision is that it’s filled with young creators. Whatever they want to create, we know professionals that want to help amplify and share their work.” The Creative Lab will be a great resource for young people looking for career preparation and industry exposure. On top of that, the program ends with Anderson .Paak’s annual .Paak House In The Park concert for thousands of L.A. youth!

If you’re in Southern California, you can express interest in the program here by December 31.

Through all of its unique initiatives, Get Lit is “Wrapping [their] arms around this part of the country and lifting it.” As Diane Luby Lane puts it, “So often, the way that we educate young people is through means that are so antiquated that it just doesn’t feel alive and relevant anymore. Our program offers a very dynamic way of learning.” Her vision is that “literacy rates will rise so high in L.A. that people all over the country will say, 'What is happening in schools in Los Angeles?', and they can point to this curriculum and use it as a model for the rest of the nation.”

Whether it be in or out of the classroom, performing poetry or creating art through visual media, Get Lit is changing the game for youth creative expression. Its programs increase literacy and create community like never seen before. The future is bright, so Get Lit! "

Original article by Skylar Zachian.

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