In what is sure to be one of the most memorable moments from the 2017 Oscars, the stars of Hidden Figures paid a loving tribute to the real life women who inspired their film. Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson, and Octavia Spencer pointed out that while history is a common theme of film, some stories are often forgotten or ignored before they can be told.
Movies about the lives of men and women in the history books have long been a staple of storytellers. Sometimes the names and deeds of the heroes in those films are known to all. And then there are those films that shine the spotlight on those whose names were known to only a few, but whose stories deserve to be told.
The beauty of Hidden Figures is the spotlight that it puts on the real life women of color who poured their time and intelligence into NASA who have previously been ignored, and they drove that message home by bringing Katherine Johnson, the former NASA mathematician that Henson portrayed in the film, up on stage.
Johnson, who turned 98 this year, was met with a standing ovation and responded with a to-the-point “thank you.” It was a simple, beautiful moment that celebrated a woman whose work is finally receiving the recognition it deserves.