Courtesy of Taylor and Latonja Richardson
By Megan Lasher
January 27, 2017

The film Hidden Figures is already sweeping awards shows and dominating the box office, but its impact far surpasses typical Hollywood accolades. According to one “future astronaut,” the film’s ability to show women in STEM fields is inspiring to young girls who haven’t really seen themselves represented in those types of roles before.

Taylor Richardson, a 13 year-old who calls herself Astronaut StarBright, is a Florida 7th grader who saw the film during a White House screening, and left the theater thinking more girls from her town needed to see it too. So she started a GoFundMe campaign that has already raised over $16,000 to pay for movie tickets for young girls in her community. She hosted the first screening on Saturday, where 275 attendees all saw the film for free.

“I left D.C. feeling incredibly inspired to pay it forward for some girls in my community to have a special viewing as well. But not just girls of color, all girls from all walks of life in my city who may have the courage to dream BIG,” Richardson wrote on the fundraiser page. “I believe seeing this movie will give us girls the inspiration we need to say ‘I can be can be a mathematician, an engineer or better yet an astronaut!'”

In an email interview with Motto, Richardson elaborated on what about the film was so motivating: “Through everything, all the women never gave up on their dreams even during times that were against them,” she said. “They had determination and drive to continue forward without the pat on the back.”

Richardson added that she’s wanted to be an astronaut since reading Dr. Mae Jemison’s autobiography, Find Where the Wind Goes. “She’s the first African-American woman to go into space. I’ve also been to four space centers and attended space camp in Huntsville, AL, and even then I didn’t see girls who looked like me but still wanted to go and I did.”

Dozens of other GoFundMe campaigns have popped up since the film’s release, all of people wanting to raise money to pay for students to see the film. And star Octavia Spencer even bought out a movie theater screening so that the public could have access to Hidden Figures too.

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