‘Hidden Figures’ NASA’s Unsung Heroines

January 24, 2017

By Tiffany Skelnik

“Hidden Figures” is a Theodore Melfi directed film starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe as three of the women who performed the calculations for NASA prior to the launch of Friendship 7.

The film is helmed by several strong performances by the lead actresses as well as others.  One of these performances is Taraji P. Henson’s portrayal of Katherine G. Johnson. Her story is a focal point of the film as she is enlisted to assist in checking the calculations of the team as they prepare for launch.  As her role grows more instrumental, the viewer sees her frustration, her dedication and her triumphs highlighted by Henson’s performance. Her performance is particularly strong in the scenes with Kevin Costner’s Al Harrison and Jim Parsons’ Paul Stafford.  It is in these scenes that the viewer is truly aware of the obstacles that Johnson faced at the time in trying to earn recognition for what she did for the space program despite those who think she shouldn’t be recognized. Both Parsons and Costner provide well rounded and complex performances that complement the performance given by Henson.

Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson provides another equally strong performance. Her story is not that different from Katherine’s, but Jackson’s frustration peaks in a more direct way. This is played to great affect by Monáe as she fights for the chance to take advantage of the opportunity that was presented to her.

Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan rounds out the trio of “Hidden Figures”. Her storyline parallels that of her costars in that Dorothy faces her own obstacles as she assists in helping with the launch. Viewers see the parallels between her work struggles and her struggles as a mother to two growing boys.

All three of these actresses lend their talent to this untold true story of the women who were instrumental in the success of NASA’s space program. It is the brilliant performances that make this film worth seeing. The film “Hidden Figures” is powerful from start to finish and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in films based on true events as well as those who enjoy an interesting story.

skeltiff@my.dom.edu