Schele Williams stopped by GMA3 recently to discuss her new children’s book Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History, as well as drop some news. The artistic leader and activist revealed she’s set to direct Disney Theatrical’s Broadway-aimed musical adaptation of Hidden Figures.
The musical, based on the Margot Lee Shetterly book and its subsequent 2016 film adaptation, will tell the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson: three Black female mathematicians whose work with NASA propelled astronaut John Glenn into orbit and the U.S. into the Space Race. It is still in the early stages of development, with no word yet on further creative team members.
“As a Black woman, to tell the story of these dynamic Black women on the American stage is indeed a dream come true,” Williams said.
Honoring the individuality and accomplishments of Black historical figures is a common thread in Williams’ work, with Your Legacy aiming to rethink how Black children learn about their ancestry. “I didn’t want to have a conversation about slavery,” Williams says as she explains how she navigated teaching her own children. “I wanted to have a conversation about their enslaved ancestors, and that broke open an entirely different way to think about slavery.”
In addition to Hidden Figures, Williams is slated to helm Disney’s upcoming revival of Aida, (expected to premiere in Germany in 2022) and Mandela the Musical. She is a founding member of Black Theatre United, a co-chair on the Broadway Inspirational Voices board of directors, and on the board of trustees for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.