After sitting down for an interview and writing, “Hidden Figures: Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact” about best-selling author Margot Lee Shetterly I left inspired and excited, not just about Hidden Figures but about life. Here are few snippets from the interview that don’t just quote the author but are excellent words of advice from a black girl nerd to Black Girl Nerds.

  • Write Your Story: Why are there not more books written like that, that just happen to have a black female protagonist? There is no reason why not except the person with the point of view has not written the book.”
  • Make Mistakes : “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, I think a lot of times that women, in general, have this idea that things have to be perfect and perfect the first time whereas nothing is perfect the first time — and the only way you can make it better is if it is bad at first sometimes — and you just keep getting better.”
  • Find Strength in Yourself: “Sometimes you can’t be afraid to be the only one. If you want to be in astrophysics and nobody is in that field that looks like you or has your background, and you know that is who you are; you can’t be afraid to be the only one. If you have that idea that it is ok, that maybe that is the situation and it is going to be the situation then that also has a lot of strengthening power.”
  • Show People in Their Full Humanity: “For me, in the beginning, I felt a real protective nature of the story, the women, and the narrative; not wanting to tell anything bad about them. There are all these stereotypes attached to these women and a feeling of being more protective than you need to be when the right thing to do is to show people in their full humanity. This is long history. I wanted those women to have that. They deserved it.”
  • Sometimes You Have to Stop and Say You Know Enough: “It took a lot to sort of let go and to also make some leaps particularly with the non-fiction to say — you know what — I actually do know enough to write this.”
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Hidden Figures, adapted from the novel Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson. The three main characters are “computers” who worked at the National Air and Space Administration (NASA) during America’s race to space against the Soviet Union in the 1960’s.  

For more about my interview with Margot Lee Shetterly check out, Hidden Figures: Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact and Five Facts You Didn’t know about Hidden Figures.