#ScreenplaySunday: HIDDEN FIGURES by Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi

I chose ‘Hidden Figures’ for this week’s #ScreenplaySunday because it is my pick for this year’s academy award for best adapted screenplay and because of my personal experience this past year: obtaining my Master of Science degree as a woman. I can’t help but have an incredible amount of respect for the women whom this story is based and who paved the way for all of us women to explore careers in the sciences fearlessly and unapologetically. I applaud everyone who worked on this film and brought this untold revolutionary story to the screen for all of us to enjoy. Below are my thoughts on the screenplay, as always I welcome your comments because I love to hear what you think!

STRENGTHS:

The Story — This is possible the single MOST INSPIRATIONAL story I have ever read. Watching these women push their way in a white man’s world is absolutely up-lifting. It sends the message that all of us can be anything we want to be. Use your talents and fight for what is yours. During the report writing, each time Katherine wrote on the cover under authors: “and Katherine Goble”, my heart would feel proud for her, and make me want to work harder in my own life.

The light on racism — The screenplay bravely highlights the racism that occurred for these women during their everyday lives. From subtle cues like keeping her head down, to more obvious ones like no ‘colored bathrooms’ or a special ‘color coffeepot’ for only Katherine’s use. I am glad to see that these issues weren’t shied away from, but made obvious to us. Now more than ever these stories need to be told. It helps us appreciate all that these women went through and and how hard it must have been to be in their shoes in that time.

WEAKNESSES:

Too Long/Wordy — I heard my coach say once that the second you open a script and it’s 123 pages, you know it’s too long.

Huge Cast — Now this became a strength since the cast did win best ensemble at the Golden Globes. However, when reading the screenplay, it’s hard to follow in the beginning because so many new characters are introduced at once and without much introduction besides their name and age. As the story progresses it becomes easy to identify each character even just by the lines they say, which I think is a sign of strong writing!

MY FAVORITE SCENE:

There were so many strong scenes in this screenplay, it was hard to pick just one. But if I have to remember just one that stood out, it would be in ACT 1 during the backyard picnic when Katharine first meets Jim Johnson. Mr. Johnson makes the mistake of being shocked that NASA hires women to do mathematics.

Katharine quickly replies with: “So, yes…they let women do some things over at NASA, Mr. Johnson. But it’s not because we wear skirts…it’s because we wear glasses.” 

You go Katherine! Thank you from every girl!

OVERALL:

I am so so proud to say that a story like this exists for women, especially in the 60’s and especially for women of color. I believe that these issues still exist today but we are fortunate to have had women like Katherine, Mary, and Dorothy pave the way for all of us. Now more than ever, these stories of discrimination and triumph need to be told. And it’s up to us, the storytellers, to do so!

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