Hidden Figures Reveals an Untold Story

BY IDA-ROSE CHABON staff writer

Today’s movie industry lacks films that portray black women in roles other than the cliche parts of the token friend or the nanny. When the public saw the poster for the movie Hidden Figures, many people were overjoyed at the sight of three black women in a powerful position.

The film is based on true events detailed in the novel Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. The film is a beautiful retelling of the story of three NASA scientists in 1962. The three main characters are Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson). Hidden Figures portrays the lives of three women scientists who changed history by helping NASA to send a man into space. Viewers learn about the struggles faced by black women in a setting dominated nearly exclusively by white men while at the same time being entertained by a star studded cast and an emotionally compelling script.

The acting portrayed in Hidden Figures brings the already colorful film script to life. Viewers are able to experience Henson’s veritable acting flexibility. Henson is nothing short of incredible. She has played a wide variety of characters in the past including the bad*ss and sassy Cookie on the TV show Empire and Queenie in the hit film Benjamin Button. Spencer and Monae’s skill perfectly compliment Henson on screen. Together, they weave a beautiful friendship between three women. Every actor creates a multi-layered and deep character that transports the viewer into the world on the screen in front of them.

Although women of color are much more present in STEM positions today than they were in the 1960s, there is still a deficit. Young girls of color continue to lack real and imaginary role models to look up to in fields of math or science. Even with the influx of female scientists of color, very few people know the names of the most prominent scientists. Women like Vaughn, Jackson, and Johnson go virtually unmentioned, while John Glenn’s name is well known across the world. The story of these three women went practically untold until the book Hidden Figures was released detailing the accounts of these historic events that took place in the NASA labs. Now more than ever, young girls need role models. With sexual harassment being excused as “locker room talk” and the growth of rape culture, female oppression is taking new forms. Stories of female and black excellence need to be told to young children, so they can see how powerful they can grow up to be. Earlier this year, the film Moonlight filled a void in movie history by portraying African-American males from a realistic perspective. Movies like Hidden Figures and Moonlight portray accurate and new perspectives into real life that the media industry so desperately needs.

Hidden Figures is a must watch, with it’s stunning performances and a wonderful cast.

This film simultaneously provokes introspections on racism and sexism and makes viewers laugh. Even if the cast or screenplay doesn’t grab your attention, go see Hidden Figures to learn about a piece of history that too few people know about. Get your ticket to Hidden Figures so that you can educate future generations about the intelligence and accomplishments of these women. This film highlights the importance of equal opportunities in employment.

If it wasn’t for the bravery and perseverance of Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and so many others like them, there would likely be no American flag placed on the moon’s surface.