There are few things more frustrating than the cyclical argument of underrepresentation. If you’ve never had some dummy try to tell you that biopics and history books are full of white dudes’ stories simply because those are the people who do things worth being talked about, well, I’m eternally jealous.
So the announcement of the upcoming movie Hidden Figures is one that we should all be over the goddamn moon about. This is one of those stories that is an important part of our history, the kind of story that exists everywhere, in every era, every place, and NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT. Hidden Figures is the story of three African American female mathematicians in the early 1960s who worked on NASA’s Friendship 7 mission, which saw John Glen as the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth.
Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as “Human Computers,” calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws, these “colored computers,” as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support America’s fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
That description there is from the synopsis for Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race, Margot Lee Shetterly’s book upon which the movie is based.
Drawing on the oral histories of scores of these “computers,” personal recollections, interviews with NASA executives and engineers, archival documents, correspondence, and reporting from the era,Hidden Figures recalls America’s greatest adventure and NASA’s groundbreaking successes through the experiences of five spunky, courageous, intelligent, determined, and patriotic women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.
Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of scientific achievement and technological innovation with the intimate stories of five women whose work forever changed the world—and whose lives show how out of one of America’s most painful histories came one of its proudest moments.
That’s such an incredible story, I of course immediately went online to buy the book, but it doesn’t come out until September of this year. And the movie adaptation is scheduled for January of 2017. So we have our new favorite book and our new favorite movie, and neither of them are even out yet.
Oh, and did I mention the best part yet? Nope. Because this incredible story may also have one of the greatest casts ever assembled. Janelle Monae, who will have made her (live action) film debut by then in A24’s Moonlight, will play Mary Jackson, the youngest of these “computers.” The other two women will be played by Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer.
That cast kicks the ass of literally every other cast that has ever been on film. Plus, Oscar Winner Janelle Monae has a pretty great ring to it.
Now let’s all spend the next 10 months with our fingers crossed, praying that the movie doesn’t turn out to actually be focused on Kevin Costner, who’s playing the head of the space program.
Via The Wrap.