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'Hidden Figures' celebrates black women who led the Space Race

Katherine Johnson, one of NASA's human computers, gets some long-overdue recognition in the film's first trailer.
Jessica Conditt, @JessConditt
August 15, 2016
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Hidden Figures tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three black women who played crucial roles in one of NASA's finest hours: launching an American into orbit for the first time. As the film's first trailer shows, their story is not only important, it's long overdue.

Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 for her accomplishments as one of NASA's human computers in the 1960s, back before the organization could rely on machines and software for complex calculations. Vaughan was Johnson's supervisor and Jackson was a fellow engineer. Hidden Figures is based on a book of the same name written by Margot Lee Shetterly, and its story addresses the racism and sexism that these women faced, both privately and professionally, even as they worked with NASA to send a man to space.

In the film, Johnson is portrayed by Taraji P. Henson; Vaughan is played by Octavia Spencer and Jackson is brought to life on-screen by Janelle Monáe. Monáe is a singer and songwriter (who happens to be featured on Engadget's Spotify Gaming playlist) and Hidden Figures is her acting debut. Hidden Figures hits theaters on January 13th.

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