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Inspirational Heroes in “Hidden Figures”

Based on a True Story

20th Century Fox

20th Century Fox

Manda Riddick, Contributor

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“Hidden Figures” is based on the 2016 non-fiction book of the same name written by Margot Lee Shetterly. It exceeds expectations in its portrayal of four African American women and their role in the effort to beat Russia in the Space Race. NASA called upon the women to be the human computers behind the Mercury-Atlas 6 launch that sent John Glenn into orbit around Earth in 1962. “Hidden Figures” is directed by Theodore Melfi whose previous experience directing pictures like “St. Vincent” from 2014 and the short film “The Beneficiary” from 2008, was helpful towards making this movie successful.

Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) are the women who become heroes by fighting for what they believe in, despite stereotypical circumstances. These three women use their intellect to break the mold that society puts them in, and successfully put an American astronaut into space. The women work in a segregated office where they are isolated from the “whites” who have better working environments. The African American office was small and did not share the same standards.

This event is not well-known, but it should be. It not only put a man into orbit, it broke societal expectations in terms of color.”

— Manda Riddick

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Henson, Spencer and Monáe portray the “hidden figures,” shedding light on an important historical event in a positive way. Their performances are exquisite, as each plays their parts, fully embodying these heroes whose contributions have previously gone untold. This event is not well-known, but it should be. It not only put a man into orbit, it broke societal expectations in terms of color.

The actresses are naturally strong and powerful women, making them perfect for their parts. They went on to win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The undoubtable standout is Henson. She won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, but was overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. However, Spencer did win an Oscar for  Best Supporting Actress. And, the film was nominated for Best Picture, losing to “Moonlight.”

The plot is very intriguing as the temptation for these women to revolt against the odds and be successful in their line of work at NASA grows as the plot progresses. These women embody something to believe in. As the story unfolds, the confidence in them does as well. It is easy to relate to having a dream and wanting to pursue it. They show that it is possible.

“Hidden Figures” leaves its viewers on a high note, because it embarks on a journey with these women from the beginning, and inspires empowerment to reach one’s full potential. The showing of the real figures at the end of the movie makes everything seem real and worth watching again.

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Inspirational Heroes in “Hidden Figures”