Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, mathematician
Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan, mathematician
Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, engineer
Kevin Costner as Al Harrison, director of the Space Task Group
Kirsten Dunst as Vivian Mitchell
Jim Parsons as Paul Stafford
In theatres January 6
5 out of 5
1969 Langley, Virginia NASA space program is in the throes of the space race working to send a man to the moon. The engineers and mathematicians working on this project rely on the help of “computers” to check and recheck their mathematic equations. These “computers” are actually people, women drawn from a pool and assigned to departments wherever they may be needed. Katherine Johnson (Henson) was temporarily assigned to the all male, all white team of scientists and mathematicians to help calculate the trajectories for the Apollo 11 moon landing. Katherine’s other colleagues Mary Jackson (Monae) worked as an engineer, and Dorothy Vaughn (Spencer) oversaw the pool of computers and eventually became head of the newly founded digital computer division at NASA.
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly that tells the remarkable story of three African American women who helped put a man on the moon, Hidden Figures is a time capsule that should have been opened a lot sooner. The contributions that these women made were remarkable especially at a time when racism and sexism were standard practice. Virginia operated under Jim Crow law which meant enforced racial segregation, yet these three women, went on to continue cutting edge careers in mathematics, science, and engineering with NASA for the rest of their lives.
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and in what is probably her second acting role, vocalist Janelle Monae all give brilliant performances as these inspiring women who succeeded in spite of all the social obstacles they had to deal with. Kevin Costner portrayal of Al Harrison, the director of the Space Task division was of a head on, no nonsense man who just wanted to get the job done right with no distractions. The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons keeps a genius level here as the head engineer of the division, but he, much like most of the other men, is resistant to a woman, let alone Black woman whose abilities are equal to his.
Personally speaking, I was angry at the fact that this story has not been told until now. This movie should not be missed! These women are pioneers and role models to every woman, to every Black woman who has been discounted by the powers that be because of her gender and race; for every girl who was told that math and science was not for you, see this film! Black families take your children to see this film; mothers take your daughters. Let them know that anything is possible and you are not limited by your race or gender. RUN do not walk to see this film!