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Allison  Schroeder

Allison Schroeder

Hidden Figures Oscar Nominated Screenwriter

Biography

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 grew up in Florida, near NASA at Cape Canaveral, where both her grandmother and grandfather worked as engineers in the 60s and 70s. She grew up watching the shuttle launches, visiting her grandmother in the Vertical Assembly Building, and playing on a Mercury capsule prototype. In high school, she interned for NASA NURTURE’s Math and Science Program and then worked for a missile launch company after her freshman year of college.

Allison attended Stanford University where she graduated with a degree in Economics (with much coursework in math and statistics). Many of the experiences in Hidden Figures, such as a teacher telling her he couldn’t teach a woman math, actually happened to Allison during her studies. She also had a second major in Film & Visual Narrative, which covered writing, theater, photography, and film studies. While at Stanford, she studied abroad at Oxford University where she wrote, directed, choreographed, and produced her first musical.

After graduating from Stanford, Allison worked as a financial analyst in San Francisco for Arthur Andersen during the Enron crisis. She then moved over to KPMG. After two years, she headed to the University of Southern California for her MFA in Film Production, where she studied directing and writing.

After graduation from USC, she worked as a writers’ assistant on Smallville before becoming a staff writer on 90210. She went on to sell a pilot to MTV and write Mean Girls 2. She also wrote the musical Side Effects for ATV/Dreamworks Animation. After working in the teen genre for a few years, she transitioned to action and drama with her spec sale of Agatha to Paramount.

She’s currently working on Christopher Robin for Disney with Ewan McGregor attached to star, Marc Forster directing. She also has a musical pilot Inspiration in development at Universal Cable/E! with Scooter Braun and Good Fear Film.

Allison is the Co-Chair of the Women’s Committee at the Writers Guild of America and a member of the WGA Diversity Advisory Group, helmed by Glen Mazzara and Shonda Rhimes. She’s spoken at the 2016 Women’s Summit at the White House, Google, SXSW, the LA Science March, and The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable. She’s also been a guest on numerous podcasts, radio shows (BBC4’s Women’s Hour, The Frame), and various other news outlets. She has a deep love for cats, travel, ziplining, improv, and chai cupcakes. She’s married to a television writer, and they have a baby girl born just two weeks before Hidden Figures premiered. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Allison Schroeder on Putting Herself into Her Writing

Allison Schroeder on Her Inspiration for ‘Hidden Figures’

Speech Topics

Hidden Figures: The Power of STEM

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.

STEAM: The Merger of Arts & Sciences in Hidden Figures

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.

How to Succeed in Business by Really Trying: The Lessons of Hidden Figures

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.

The Leadership Lessons of Hidden Figures

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.