new york times magazine
WHAT THEY WERE THINKING
September 5, 1999
Mary Ellen Mark


312N-106-024 Tiny with her daughter LaShawndrea, Seattle, April 1999


300E-012-22A Tiny, Seattle, 1983

"When they took that earlier photograph, I was 14. They were making a documentary, “Streetwise,” about the kids on the streets of Seattle and what we did to survive. The photo was the end of the movie. It was nominated for best documentary, so I got to go to the Academy Awards. People started recognizing me. I never had to pay for anything. It was like the rich-and‑famous life. I met Willie Nelson. And I even had an agent there for a minute. I thought it was going to be my big break. I thought somebody might give me a chance to do something better with my life. But I was too attracted to streets and the money and prostituting. "In the later photo I was crying because I was extremely stressed. Now that it's so many years later, I think I just wasted my big chance. I had a chance to make it big, provide for my kids, meet people, get rich and live in a nice house. I would do anything if l could just get that chance again. My kids wouldn't be suffering and wouldn't be on welfare. I think of it almost every day. I have five kids and I am pregnant again. I get bored sitting at home all the time, so I watch television. I just want out of this place, to get away from the people I am around. "I still have the old photo up in my living room. When I look at it, I think about how I used to live. I wish I didn't live like that. Sometimes I remember the good part, how I met Whoopi Goldberg, before she was even famous. I wonder if she remembers me."

Photographs by Mary Ellen Mark

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