It was the beginning of a years-long run helping AIDS patients whose biological families had shunned them. She would take them to the doctor, and help with their medications. In the Arkansas Times story, Burks — a childhood friend of Bill Clinton's from Hot Springs, Arkansas — said, "I was their hospice. Their gay friends were their hospice. Their companions were their hospice."
McGowan's Ruth, which runs just under eight minutes, shows that inceptive moment for Burks. When the vodka company Zirkova — which is sponsoring a series of short films through its We Are One+Together nonprofit — approached McGowan to direct the project she hadn't heard of Burks. But as McGowan researched her she became "fascinated and captivated by the story." Though Zirkova had sent McGowan a script, she rewrote it during an all-nighter.