New movie 'Hidden Figures' has Space Coast connection
'97 Mel High grad wrote screenplay for buzzworthy film.
A new space-themed movie has a Space Coast tie.
Allison Schroeder, a 1997 graduate of Melbourne High, co-wrote the screenplay for "Hidden Figures." The film, set for release on Jan. 6, tells the story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA, who were the brains behind one of the program's first successful space missions: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.
Schroeder co-wrote the screenplay with director Theodore Melfi. Based on the book of the same name, written by Margot Lee Shetterly, the film stars Taraji P. Henson (Fox's "Empire"), Oscar winner Octavia Spencer ("The Help") and singer Janelle Monae. The all-star cast also includes Oscar winner Kevin Costner and Emmy winner Jim Parsons from TV's "Big Bang Theory."
Bob Hildebrand of Melbourne remembers Schroeder from her high school days.
"I was a chaperone for the Mel High future problem solvers team when they traveled to University of Michigan for the international competition. Allison and my daughter, Katherine, were a part of that team," he said.
The film already has received critical acclaim and could be a heavy contender during awards season. Spencer plays Dorothy Vaughan, a "human computer" who fights for a supervisor title at NASA in the 1960s. Henson's character Katherine Johnson, another math genius, is key to America's fight in the Space Race. The soundtrack of "Hidden Figures" should generate a lot of buzz, too. Monae, best known for her urban/alternative hits "Tightrope" and "Yoga," will make her major movie debut as mathematician Mary Jackson. Pharrell Williams (remember "Happy"?) will compose the music for the film.
Hildebrand's not surprised about Schroeder's success. "There are some kids that are just really good at what they do," he said. "They persevere. They do well. I knew that Allison would be a star one day."
He's also not surprised her movie has a space theme. After all, Schroeder was immersed in NASA culture as well — her grandmother worked at Langley, and "her father was an engineer who worked on the Mercury capsule — the type of craft that John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, rode into orbit in 1962," Hildebrand said.
He's looking forward to watching the story unfold on the big screen.
"I've seen the trailer for it, and it just looks like a good movie with good values," he said. "It's about teamwork and how we have to support each other rather than having a competition and outshine each other — working together they got a lot more done."
Some cast members from "Hidden Figures" will host a news conference at Kennedy Space Center this month. That will air on NASA Television and the agency's website.
For more on the film, visit foxmovies.com/movies/hidden-figures.
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