Brow Beat

Taraji P. Henson Stars as a Math Whiz Alongside Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe in the Trailer for Hidden Figures

Odds are you’ve heard of John Glenn, the astronaut who became the first American to make a complete orbit of Earth in 1962. But you probably haven’t heard of Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician and “human computer” who made it happen. Hidden Figures, directed by Theodore Melfi, aims to change that, with Taraji P. Henson starring as Johnson, a math prodigy whose aptitude for numbers helped her overcome discrimination on two fronts. Johnson’s accomplishments were chronicled in the upcoming book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly.


The first trailer for the movie, which aired during the Olympics, looks very, very promising. Half a century after she helped make history, Johnson is finally getting the credit she’s due—she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and may be getting her own Lego figure. The film also recognizes two other black women, her colleagues Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), whose contributions to the project have also been overlooked in the past. Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, and Mahershala Ali round out the cast.

It’s still early to speculate, but the role could have some serious award potential for Henson—maybe even an Oscar, to go with her Golden Globe? And in case that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, the film’s music is yet another collaboration between Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams. The movie premieres Jan. 13.