As Black History Month comes to a close, I would like to shine a light on one particular film that spread ripples of inspiration throughout the country. Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae. The film tells the story of how three black women–Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson—working for NASA in the early 1960s played a crucial role in sending the first American into the earth’s orbit.
As a former math whiz, the film made an outstanding impression on me. There aren’t too many films that portray black women, real or fictional, displaying a vast amount of knowledge in any particular subject, especially within STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Many films over the years, no matter the budget, have fallen short on accurately portraying the sheer humanness of black women in particular. Hollywood has a thing these days- relying on stereotypes, and reality TV —to produce what they feel is good, profitable entertainment, and further doing black women, and women of color overall, a great disservice.
Hidden Figures provides a fresh take on a part of history being revealed to the masses for the first time.
I felt myself becoming emotional finally seeing a reflection of myself on the silver screen. Memories of my years in school—and math being my favorite subject—floated in the back of my mind, almost in sync with the scenes playing in front of me. I was excited, I was indignant, I was empathetic, and in one jarring scene, my breath was taken away. By the end of the film, I was applauding and standing up, my life more enriched by the cinematic greatness of such a movie. Though they did not take home any trophies at last night’s Academy Awards, the film became the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee for the year. If you have not seen the film yet, I highly recommend catching it at a movie theater near you.