To celebrate the release of “Hidden Figures,” 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film following three female African American mathematicians during the 1960’s Space Race, 21st Century Fox has teamed with PepsiCo to launch “The Search for Hidden Figures,” a contest encouraging young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The contest asks high-school and college students, as well as professionals, to answer essay questions and provide video submissions about the importance of STEM to themselves and the world. More than $200,000 in scholarships and other awards will be granted to the 12 winners, and more will receive membership to the New York Academy of Sciences and other prizes. “Hidden Figures” stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and more. Pharrell Williams served as composer and producer on the film, which will open in theaters on Jan. 6, 2017.
Henson plays Katherine G. Johnson, a NASA mathematician and pioneer in American space exploration who calculated the trajectory for the space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space; John Glenn, the first American to orbit earth; and Apollo 11, the first human mission to the moon. The film tells the story of Johnson, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Monáe), as they work on the John Glenn mission.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to share the story of Katherine Johnson and her peers whose contributions have remained hidden for too long,” said Lachlan Murdoch, Executive Chairman of 21st Century Fox. “At 21CF, we believe in the power of storytelling to inspire the next generation of talent to dream bigger and unlock their full potential, and through The Search for Hidden Figures contest, we are excited to give young women across the country the encouragement to pursue those dreams.”
Submissions are now open and will run until Dec. 10. Then, from Dec. 17-30, 50 semifinalists will be selected and invited to submit a video response to a new question about STEM. A panel of judges including “Hidden Figures” producers Pharrell Williams; Donna Gigliotti; Fox 2000 Pictures President Elizabeth Gabler; and NYAS President and CEO Ellis Rubinstein, will choose two grand prize winners and 10 runners-up from this group. The 10 runners-up will each receive $10,000 scholarships, and the two grand prize winners will receive $50,000 scholarships, along with access to the NYAS STEM skills training programs and a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Florida. Winners will be announced on Jan. 12.
In addition to the contest, the Search for Hidden Figures website also features a collection of STEM games, quizzes and challenges for students and fans of the film to test their skills. 21CF has also launched a national TV and digital campaign featuring Henson and the rest of the film’s cast encouraging young women to get involved.