Hidden Figures Oscar Nominated Screenwriter
Allison Schroeder is a Writers Guild of America, BAFTA, and Oscar-nominated screenwriter for the film Hidden Figures, which tells the true story of three female, African-American mathematicians at NASA during the Cold War. She also won the Humanitas and Veritas Awards for her writing on the film. Allison drew from her own experiences working at NASA and her studies in mathematics as she adapted the book into the screenplay. Read More >
Allison Schroeder on Putting Herself into Her Writing
Allison Schroeder on Her Inspiration for ‘Hidden Figures’
Film and television play a critical role in highlighting STEM careers, communicating science, and inspiring the next generation. When Allison was in elementary school, she used to visit her grandparents who worked at NASA. She watched the shuttle launches from the elementary school playground. Like Katherine Johnson, math and science were a part of Allison’s life from a young age. And it gave her confidence. Allison will discuss her experiences working at NASA as well as the experiences of the women in the film. She’ll talk about breaking down stereotypes of what a mathematician or scientist should be like. She’ll discuss the importance of STEM in education. Because if they see it, they can be it – thus encouraging children to pursue STEM and become the next great generation of innovators.
It’s a common misconception that one can’t be both scientific and creative. In fact, the two studies can overlap and be tremendously helpful to each other. Allison will discuss her experiences studying math, science, and the arts, from her dual degrees at Stanford to how she landed the job writing Hidden Figures. She’ll also discuss how the three leading ladies in Hidden Figures were artistically accomplished (in music, languages, and crafts) and how this creativity helped them in their work at NASA. STEM isn’t just about being good at math or programming or chemistry; it’s also about being a dreamer, an inventor, a fixer. Thus, the need for the “A” in STEAM.
The women of Hidden Figures succeeded by working within the system, going outside the system, and changing the system. Allison will discuss the various steps that these women and she have utilized in their careers to continue advancing. They include: (1) Dream Big, (2) Identify Obstacles and Steps to Overcome Them, (3) Set Realistic Goals, (4) Do the Work, (5) Advocate for Yourself, (6) Find a Support Group, (7) Pick Your Fights. Allison will explain how Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan used these steps to succeed at NASA in roles not previously open to women, and especially women of color. She’ll also discuss how she used these steps in her career from her time at NASA, to her experiences within Finance, and finally her writing in Hollywood.
Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan could not have succeeded without the support of those within NASA. And in turn, they were instrumental to the success of the mission. Some of their bosses stood in their way while others changed the rules and supported them. As in real life, the character of Kevin Costner had to take a hard look at his role as a boss and adjust to be the best leader: (1) He found the best person to do the job by looking outside the normal employment pools, (2) He listened to his employees and removed obstacles standing in their way, (3) He changed protocols and procedures to better serve his employees, (4) He gave them latitude to find the solution and (5) He knew it was a team effort to succeed at the mission. Allison will also discuss Mary and Dorothy’s bosses as well as her own experiences both as a team member and a team leader.
She was absolutely amazing! Everyone loved her! I think she had a good time too….. She’s VERY down to earth…..has a great conversational style. Wicked smart. Great insights. It was awesome….thank you! Thank you for everything!
Thank you so much for speaking at March for Science Los Angeles this weekend. It was an absolute pleasure to meet you. Your remarks about Hidden Figures: The Power of Science in Films resonated with our audience and were incredibly inspiring. In addition to highlighting the critical role film can play in communicating science, we are thrilled that you could speak from the perspective of a mother with a young child since this movement is all about the next generation.
On behalf of the entire MFA group, thank you so much for an extraordinary presentation and sharing all of that time with the students. I'm deeply grateful for your very specific and brilliant thoughts about everything from the craft of pitching to the politics of writing in Hollywood.
Just wanted to send you a note to express how grateful I and the rest of the team at Wondaland are that you were able to join our panel on Saturday. Your perspective, isnight, and humor really made the day magical.