By: Jasmine Britt
Not many people knew that three African-American women were vital components in helping the U.S. beat Russia into space in 1962. Based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, “Hidden Figures” tells a history that isn’t written in our history books. This is a real story that needed to be shown, and director Theodore Melfi along with his co-writer Allison Schroeder, did just that.
Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Goble Johnson who was brilliant and fascinated by numbers she became a high school freshman at the age of 10, and graduated college by the age of 18. Her skill and love for math led her to being a “human computer” for NASA in 1961. At the age of 98, Johnson finally gets to see a computer facility named in her likeness, but it wasn’t always like this for her or other African-American women of this time.
Throughout the film, Katherine fights for her job and defies odds as an African-American woman in the Space Task Group. Henson, nominated for an NAACP award for this role, was outstanding for her portrayal of a woman who had to go against the grain and fight to become a major part in the Space Race.
Meanwhile, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) battles with her supervisor (Kirsten Dunst) for her right to earn the title and pay of supervisor- a job that she has been working for 6 months. Like many of her other roles, Spencer is fantastic in this, by showcasing what Dorothy had to do in order to move higher up in her position at NASA.
Finally, Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) fights with the city for her rights to attend college night classes at a segregated high school in order to become an engineer after a job offer. With this role, Monae manages to successfully crossover from being a Grammy-nominated artist to a captivating actress, proving that she truly is a double threat.
Not many people know about these women and how they contributed to U.S. history, but thanks to this movie we know a lot more than we did. Henson, Spencer, and Monae shine in their roles as remarkable women who broke down both racial and gender barriers. This movie deserves every praise it receives and it’s truly uplifting.
Photos courtesy of:
FOXMOVIES.COM and NASA/Bill Ingalls [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons