This Teen Raised $100K to Let Children See ‘A Wrinkle in Time’
She wants to show young girls they can do anything.
Taylor Richardson wants to someday be an astronaut but, in the meantime, the 14-year old is helping other kids shoot for the stars.
A fan of the sci-fi book “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L'Engle, Richardson was thrilled when the trailer for the adapted film was released last year.
She decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign so she could buy tickets for young girls who wanted to see the movie.
Her initial goal was $15,000, enough money to buy tickets for 1,000 girls and chaperones, concession snacks at theaters, and paperback copies of the book.
And she's met that goal more than five times over, WAMU 88.5 reported. Richardson had exceeded her goal in February, soon after creating her GoFundMe campaign, making headlines for her efforts and catching the attention of the film's stars. Chris Pine, who plays the main character's father, donated $25,000 to Richardson's campaign. And, according to the Huffington Post, Oprah Winfrey donated $50,000.
Richardson said she was inspired to do this because the protagonist of the book and movie is a black girl who loves science and overcomes evil, according to the GoFundMe.
“Supporting this project means you support not only diversity but gender equality in STEM and our films,” she wrote on the GoFundMe page. “KIDS NEED REPRESENTATION so that they can take pride in who they are and know that they are more than capable of being anything they put their minds to. Help us be warriors we Know we can be in STEM!”
She’s also working to dismantle the stereotypes that prevent women from being employed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields, best encapsulated by a controversial manifesto published by a former Google engineer last year who claimed that women are not biologically cut out for STEM work.
Although women account for half of STEM college graduates in the US, they make up just 29% of the STEM workforce, according to the National Girls Collaborative Project, and minority women are even less represented.
Richardson and her mother hosted three screenings over the weekend of the film's premier, making it possible for 1,000 children in Los Angeles, California, Hopeville, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida to see the movie, WAMU 88.5 reported. They plan to hold several screenings over the next two weeks, and will donate any money leftover to support other organizations' screenings.
Richardson has been praised by the film’s director, Ava Duvernay, for her work.
This is the dynamic teenager who raised over $21,000 to send girls to see #WrinkleinTime . She’ll be an astronaut one day. I may or may not have actually, out-loud screamed when I saw her in the hallway at the #WrinkleJunketDay. To our dear @astrostarbright: You inspire me. https://t.co/3pDIYDQep2— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 24, 2018
This isn’t the first time that Richardson has used GoFundMe to help low-income girls see an empowering film.
Last year, she raised more than $20,000 to help girls go see “Hidden Figures,” a movie starring three black women who are NASA scientists during an era steeped in discrimination.
Richardson has also used GoFundMe to send herself to space camp when she was 9 years old, she notes on the fundraising page.
“She has so much drive and determination and, on top of it, she’s a really great kid,” her mom told ABC News. “She takes time to pay it forward not just to girls that look like her but all kinds of kids all around the world. It’s mind-blowing.”
“As a parent, it’s my due diligence to support her in every way I can,” she added.
Richardson is also lending her support to the #BlackPantherChallenge, which seeks to raise money so that low-income, black children can see the already-iconic superhero movie.
Both “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Black Panther” help to reconceptualize Hollywood paradigms, blasting apart the racial and gender boxes that actors and directors get shunted into, and opening up more possibilities for women and people of color to write, direct, and lead in films that better reflect their experiences.
“The concept of an African story, with actors of African descent at the forefront, combined with the scale of modern franchise filmmaking, is something that hasn’t really been seen before,” Coogler, the film's director, told The Hollywood Reporter. “You feel like you’re getting the opportunity of seeing something fresh, being a part of something new, which I think all audiences want to experience regardless of whether they are of African descent or not.”
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Richardson is helping to make sure these movies have a cultural impact far beyond movie screenings.
“So what’s next,” she wrote on her GoFundMe page. “Well I want to continue my mission to bring diversity and gender equality to the STEM field, by running various projects and initiatives to make this happen.”