I can't tell you the number of stories I've told with a female protagonist don't get bought, or they do get bought and get changed drastically. Or, I will literally write into the script different races, and they get cast all-white. I hope that stops and it opens the door for more voices to be heard in movies.
In my general meetings, I certainly tell producers and executives that I'm interested in writing action films, but I think there's still a very specific set of writers they look at. And I don't think there's a lot of female writers on that list.
In high school, I was selected for NASA's Math & Science program. I'd hop on the yellow school bus and head up to Cape Canaveral.
History is a certain way, but you just change the point of view a little bit, and you discover a whole new side of it.
I think a lot of times people look at me and say, 'Well, we can't possibly hand a show over to her to run.' It seemed like executives would be worried about me controlling a room and having power, and I'd say, 'Oh, I can control a room. I can give an order like nobody's business.'
I walked into an international economics tutorial, and the professor said, 'I don't know how to teach a woman.' I said, 'It's the same as teaching a man.' I just sat down, and he had no choice but to start teaching. When I handed in my first paper, I think that shut him up.
Sometimes you feel all alone. You come out of a meeting, and something sexist has been said to you: That movie will never be made with that female lead. And you think, 'How am I ever gonna get another job?' When you hear other women having the same experiences, it makes you feel like, 'Well, I'm gonna keep going, and we're gonna fight this system.'
They used to time our elementary fire drills so we could watch the launches. I thought that was normal. I thought every kid watched every NASA launch.
When you start early, and you're writing for free, there's a lot of producers that will take advantage of you... It is seared in my brain forever.
I think you leave your imprint on every screenplay. I like to bring my experience as a woman to all my female characters that hopefully makes them a little more layered and complex.
You think NASA is going to be cutting edge, but they've got so many buildings that are just left over from the '60s. It's old.
There's so many gatekeepers to getting in front of showrunners or executives. If we pull those middlemen out, and we get women in rooms with the executives, the people hiring, it seems to break down barriers. Because they can no longer say, 'There just aren't any women to hire,' when you're surrounded by fifty of them.
There was an email forwarded to me from a first-grade teacher, and she said she was teaching them civil rights for MLK weekend, and a little first-grader stood up, and he said, 'I can explain segregation,' and proceeded to explain all the scenes from 'Hidden Figures.' And I died because that's everything.
I write in my pajamas on my sofa surrounded by my cats. It's a bit isolating.
I think a broader audience is really amazing. If there's no need for curse words or darkness, why go there? Why not make it PG?
Little girls and little boys need to have role models to look up to and know that, 'I'm not the first one. I'm not having to do this for the first time ever. Others have blazed the trail before me, and I can follow in their footsteps and do the same thing.'
I interned at NASA for five years, and I grew up in Cape Canaveral, and my grandfather was an engineer on the Mercury capsule, and my grandmother was a software engineer. I literally grew up playing on the Mercury capsule prototypes.
I'm a stickler for structure. So I tend to make sure I'm hitting certain points in the script and that I'm progressing and moving things along. You know, are the characters keeping the plot moving along? And are they true, and do I know their motivations?
People tell me I'm very ambitious right now. But I just have a lot of stories in my head, and why can't I do them all?
We need more diversity - we need more African-Americans on screen, Latinos, Asians, different religions. We have to be better about reflecting what our world looks like.