Hidden Figures doesn’t release until January 2017, but I’m already excited about the cast and the people they are playing. Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monáe, and Octavia Spencer star as three mathematicians working at NASA.
The film is based on the true story of a group of female African Americans working at NASA told in the upcoming book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly.
There were a whole community of female African American mathematicians at NASA. These women did the calculations that made it possible for John Glenn to make a complete orbit of the earth and come back home safely. Being black, being women, they never got any mention or recognition.
The book (coming soon) and the movie set for early next year, should help change that situation.
The real women featured in the film are Katherine Johnson (Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Monáe).
For some background, here’s a blog post by Margot Lee Shetterly. One of her statements in that post,
These women were nearly all top graduates of historically black colleges such as Hampton Institute, Virginia State and Wilberforce University. Though they did the same work as the white women hired at the time, they were cloistered away in their own segregated office in the West Area of the Langley campus– thus the moniker, the West Computers. But despite the hardships of working under Virginia’s Jim Crow laws, these women went on to make significant contributions to aeronautics, astronautics, and America’s victory over the Soviet Union in the Space Race.
Kevin Costner will play the head of the space program. Glen Powell plays John Glenn. Others in the film include Mahershala Ali, Jim Parsons and Kirsten Dunst. Pharrell Williams is doing the music. Theodore Melfi directs.
Sounds like a good book to read before the movie comes out next year!
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