Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story

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Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story
DVD cover
Written byRonni Kern[1]
Directed byPeter Levin
StarringThora Birch
Michael Riley
Robert Bockstael
Makyla Smith
Kelly Lynch
ComposerLouis Febre
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerMichael Mahoney
CinematographyUta Briesewitz
EditorAnita Brandt-Burgoyne
Running time91 minutes
Original release
ReleaseApril 7, 2003 (2003-04-07)

Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story is an American biographical drama television film directed by Peter Levin.[3] The film premiered on Lifetime on April 7, 2003, and received three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Made for Television Movie and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for Thora Birch.[4]


Liz Murray is one of two daughters of an extremely dysfunctional Bronx family. Her father watches Jeopardy! and knows all the questions. Their bathtub does not drain so she has to shower while standing on an overturned bucket, to stay out of the fetid water.

As a young girl, Murray lives with her sister Lisa, their drug-addicted, schizophrenic mother Jean, who has AIDS and is practically blind, and their father Peter, also a drug addict who is intelligent, but also has AIDS, lacks social skills, and is not conscientious. She is removed from the home and placed into the care system as her father cannot take care of her.

At 15, she moves in with her mother, sister, and grandfather who sexually abused her mother and her aunt. After a fight with her grandfather who hits Liz, she runs away with a girl from school named Chris who is being abused at home.

After Jean dies of AIDS, which she contracted from sharing needles during her drug-abusing years, Liz gets a "slap in the face" by her mother's death and begins her work to finish high school, which she amazingly completed in two years, rather than the usual four. She becomes a star student and earns a scholarship to Harvard University through an essay contest sponsored by The New York Times.



Awards and nominations[edit]

2003 Emmy Awards
  • Nominated: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie — Thora Birch[4]
  • Nominated: Outstanding Made for Television Movie[4]
  • Nominated: Outstanding Single Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special — Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
2003 Casting Society of America (Artios)
  • Nominated - Best Casting for TV Movie of the Week — Susan Edelman
2004 American Cinema Editors (Eddies)


  1. ^ Credited as Ellen Page; he came out as transgender in 2020.


  1. ^ LeSure, Elizabeth (April 5, 2013). "Movie Shows 'Homeless to Harvard' Journey". Edwardsville Intelligencer. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  2. ^ Alberts, Hana R. (October 4, 2002). "From Homeless to Harvard, and Now Hollywood". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  3. ^ Osborn, Jacob (February 11, 2021). "The 50 best Lifetime movies, according to IMDb". The Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Gans, Andrew (July 17, 2003). "2003 Emmy Nominations Announced; Newman Nominated for Our Town". Playbill. Retrieved March 14, 2021.

External links[edit]