'Hidden Figures': How black women helped launch America to space

'Figures' looks to be an inspiring story about women including Katherine Johnson who were crucial in bringing humanity to space. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

A trailer has been released for the upcoming film “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of African-American women who helped John Glenn orbit Earth. 

The movie is based on the true story of women – Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) – who were employed at the organization that would later become NASA, working on the math involved with bringing humanity to space. 

The film co-stars Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, and Kirsten Dunst.

The trailer shows the struggles the women were up against, including others expressing dubiousness that they were working at NASA as mathematicians because they were women and, at one point, being mistaken for a janitor. 

The movie will be released on Jan. 13. It’s directed by Theodore Melfi of the 2014 movie “St. Vincent” and co-written by Mr. Melfi and Allison Schroeder. 

Many cultural critics seem pleased the story of these women is being told, with Jess Denham of The Independent writing, “It’s finally time for the genius African-American women who worked at NASA in the Sixties to enjoy their long overdue moment in the spotlight.” Collider's Adam Chitwood writes, “While this story could easily have become one of those schmaltzy Lifetime Original Movies, this trailer is mighty promising as the film looks to pull back the curtain on a largely unknown underdog story with a measured tone and chemistry to spare. Indeed, the charisma of Henson, Spencer, and Monae is palpable, and the prospect of taking a close look at the uphill battle these incredibly smart women faced during a tumultuous period in our nation’s history (Glenn’s flight was in 1962) is highly enticing.” 

Ms. Henson mentioned in an interview with USA Today that she thinks the movie focuses on the inspiring aspect of the narrative. “We don’t really hit people over the head with the history of racism,” she said. “We know that story.... [The film depicts] how to work through it and rise above it as humanity.”

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