Real life stories meet the big screen

Books are a powerful tool for individuals to share their life stories, triumphs, and struggles. In recent years, several compelling autobiographies, memoirs and biographies have made their way from the pages of books to the big screen. Here are the well-crafted film adaptations that have stuck with us:

‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ by Chris Gardner

Chris Gardner’s inspiring journey from homelessness to a successful career on Wall Street is chronicled in his autobiography, ‘The Pursuit of Happyness.’ Will Smith brought Gardner’s story to life in the 2006 film adaptation. The recipient of critical acclaim and both academy award and golden globe nominations, The Pursuit of Happyness.’ captures the emotional rollercoaster of Gardner’s life, emphasizing the power of determination and resilience in the face of adversity.

‘A Beautiful Mind’ by Sylvia Nasar

Sylvia Nasar’s biography of Nobel laureate John Nash, ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ delves into the mathematician’s struggles with mental illness. The 2001 film adaptation, starring Russell Crowe as Nash, skillfully portrays the complexity of his mind and the impact of mental health on his personal and professional life. The film received critical acclaim for its sensitive depiction of Nash’s journey.

‘Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’ by Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, ‘Wild,’ recounts her solo journey of self-discovery and healing as she hikes over a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese Witherspoon stars in the 2014 film adaptation, capturing the raw emotion and challenges of Strayed’s trek. The film beautifully translates the physical and emotional journey of the author onto the cinematic canvas. Witherspoon’s portrayal earned her critical acclaim, culminating in a well-deserved Academy Award nomination and a win for Best Actress at the 2015 Oscars.

‘Malcolm X’ by Malcolm X and Alex Haley

The autobiography of Malcolm X, co-written with Alex Haley, is a powerful narrative that explores Malcolm’s transformation from a street hustler to a prominent civil rights leader. Spike Lee directed the 1992 film adaptation, simply titled ‘Malcolm X,’ with Denzel Washington delivering a powerful performance that earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Beyond the accolades, ‘Malcolm X’ remains a potent cinematic portrayal of a man who challenged societal norms and left an indelible mark on the struggle for civil rights in America.

‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ based on “The Wolf of Wall Street” by Jordan Belfort:

Jordan Belfort’s memoir, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ provided the source material for the 2013 film directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film delves into the excessive and morally questionable world of finance, portraying Belfort’s rise and fall. Despite its controversial nature, the film received critical acclaim for its bold storytelling, Martin Scorsese’s direction, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s dynamic performance, earning him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. The movie was also nominated for five Academy Awards and further solidified its place as a memorable exploration of greed and excess in the financial world.


But you don’t need to create a Hollywood blockbuster, every person’s story is worth telling. At My Story Told, we are dedicated to turning personal narratives into lasting legacies through our autobiography writing services. Your story matters, and we are here to help you share it.

We have already covered the autobiography sub-genre as a whole in our blog ‘Planning an autobiography: tips on getting started’, where we differentiate between autobiographies and biographies and outline the preparation taken when in the planning stage.

But the differentiation does not end there. There are actually 6 types of autobiography that you can choose depending upon the central approach and theme of the book. The 6 types of autobiography include:

Full autobiography

A full autobiography usually revolves around a complete life story, the whole journey from birth to the present day. Authors will use this form of writing to give insight into their lives, allow readers to experience the “real you” and give inside, exclusive information.

An example of this is My Booky Book by Russell Brand.


Memoirs are differentiated from full autobiographies due to the fact that they focus on a specific place or time, and are written from the first-person point of view. This type is limited in comparison, due to the focused nature of the writing.

A renowned memoir from recent years is Becoming by Michelle Obama, detailing her life up to the point where she became the First Lady of the United States. This memoir also made it into our list of ‘6 timeless autobiographies worth reading’.

Personal essay

Similarly to memoirs, personal essays also focus on a specific lesson of importance from the writer’s life experiences. Also written in first-person perspective, personal essays are not a long form of writing in most cases and follow a typical essay five paragraph format seen in academic essays.

A famous example of a personal essay is Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell. Published in 1936, this essay documents Orwell’s time working as a policeman in Burma where he once was instructed to shoot a rampaging elephant. The essay is described by Buzzfeed as ‘a condemnation of imperialism – and his own selfish desire to not be implicated by it’.


Confessional writing, whether real or fictitious, reveals often intimate and hidden details of the subject’s life. The earliest recorded example of the genre was Confessions of St. Augustine (c. AD 400).

Psychological illness

Many autobiographies highlight the hardship that the subject has endured in order to present a contrast to their success, but will often have airbrushed details in order to maintain the image of the subject. Conversely, some autobiographies detailing psychological illness do not pull any punches and are brutally honest due to the subject matter.

Overcoming adversity

A popular topic for autobiographies, overcoming adversity stories are shared to inspire others in similar situations who can relate to the struggle. They say truth is stranger than fiction and some adversity stories seem abnormal to be reality.

Readers enjoy stories of adversity, which is why this autobiographical approach is so popular and successful. An example of a story involving adversity is the 1965 book The Autobiography of Malcom X.


Religious stories consist of a compilation of experiences showing the subject’s connection to God. Typically, this type of writing will show the contrast between the subject’s life before and after their spiritual salvation and how finding God has helped them improve their life.

The current spiritual leader of Buddhism, the Dalai Lama’s book My Spiritual Journey is a great example for those looking for books on this topic.

My Story Told are happy to help with any of the above autobiographical forms. Your personally selected writer will be there every step of the way to help with planning your book and ensuring the right questions are asked to get the best content. If you’re wondering how it all works, click here for more details.