Pharrell Speaks on “Hidden Figures”

Pharrell is vastly becoming the most sought after man in music. With ten Grammy’s to his credit he’s now nominated for an Academy Award for his original score for the groundbreaking film Hidden Figures.


Mr. Williams, 43, who has a gentler demeanor than his flashy showmanship might suggest (and who, at this conversation, was wearing an unassuming knit cap), said he is used to the many obligations that go hand-in-hand with the increasing opportunities coming his way.

But as he sees them, Mr. Williams said in even, enigmatic tones, the duties of producing and promoting movies do not have to feel like burdens at all; he compared them to a favorite hobby, like collecting comic books.

“Could you imagine not filing them away properly?” he asked. “Could you imagine not keeping them in a sleeve? Could you imagine skipping a step there?”

He added, “There’s no such thing as skipping a step with something you love.”

From left, Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe in “Hidden Figures.” Credit Hopper Stone/20th Century Fox

The screenplay for “Hidden Figures,” which is adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book, was circulated to Mr. Williams and his producing partner, Mimi Valdés, early in the film’s life cycle, even before Mr. Melfi had signed on to direct.

Mr. Williams was drawn to a factual story that celebrated the contributions of African-Americans and, he said, was “chipping away at the pro-male narrative that’s out there right now, which needs to go.”

“There needs to be a narrative that is shared by both men and women,” he said. “The female contribution can be hid no more.”

The project had another layer of resonance for Mr. Williams, who was raised in Virginia Beach, not far from the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, where “Hidden Figures” takes place.

Growing up, he said, he had a kind of mystical reverence for the NASA facilities. “We knew the bigger questions were being answered there,” he said.

“The idea that there’s something beyond this planet that goes on forever, in any direction?” he said, his voice rising slightly. “Come on. Or the idea that our sun is just another star, and that all those stars have exoplanets around them. Right now. That was mind-blowing for me as a child.”

Mr. Williams’s new music for “Hidden Figures” includes “Runnin’,” a snappy song that accompanies Ms. Henson’s character on her lengthy cross-campus sprints to and from NASA’s segregated bathrooms, and the inspirational “I See a Victory,” which he explained in cosmological terms.

“The moon’s perspective of your situation is that it has seen how far you’ve come, and how far you’re going to go,” he said of the song. “You can see a victory if you can see beyond this moment.”

…read the full interview at





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Rodrick Golding

Rodrick Golding is the Founder/CEO of Young Blvd LLC. A serial entrepreneur and lifelong creative who has fully taken the leap into the social enterprise sector as a way to bring opportunity to youth in underserved communities.
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