• Interviews

Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer Talk “Hidden Figures”

Directed by Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures, based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, tells the fascinating and, well, hidden true story of the women of color who labored in the shadows of NASA’s space quest. Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) were part of the space agency’s “computing pool”, working as human “computers”, necessary in those early days to verify pre-launch calculations. The women worked in a segregated pool at NASA’s Langley facility managed by Space Task director Al Harrison (Kevin Costner) and had to overcome Jim Crow prejudice before proving themselves invaluable as mathematicians, physicists and engineers, becoming instrumental in the first successful orbital flight by John Glenn. The HFPA’s Katherine Tulich spoke to Costner and Spencer about the enduring significance of the story.