Not gonna lie: We showed up to this Booking.com code-a-thon event to see actress Laura Dern—oh she of such cult-viewing as Big Little Lies, Citizen Ruth, and Jurassic Park.
Tall and willowy, she was wearing a black body-con dress stitched with ribbon that thematically referenced either bondage wear or Frankenstein. Her warmth and interest in these fresh-faced high schoolers—a chosen dozen or so who attended a two-day coding boot camp hosted by Booking—seemed quite genuine as she gathered them around the fireplace at the CNET Smart Home in Laurel Heights: "Why do you want to learn to code?" she asked. The overwhelming response: To change the world.
CNET's Smart Home in Laurel Heights served as the venue for Booking.com's girls code-a-thon with special guest Laura Dern.(Brendan Mansfield)
Such idealism was music to Dern's ears, since she freely admits that she "literally, barely knows how to operate a computer." The actress also talked about her 13-year-old daughter, Jaya, who is apparently "always on her devices," but shares the girls' wide-eyed enthusiasm for the tech-dominated future that most of us older than the age of 35 actually fear.
After the girls proudly flaunted the platforms they began building at the Code-a-Thon (including a few Booking.com revamps, an app that connects artists with buyers, and an on-demand boba-tea delivery site), Dern announced Booking.com's $350,000 commitment to scholarships for STEM students at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and Spelman College in the ATL. The girls cheer, hopeful that they'll earn some of that money for their own education, not unlike the offspring of certain entitled celebrities who are making headlines of late. "Thank god girls like you are going to change the world," says Dern. "We need you."