Who Is Katherine G. Johnson, The Real Life Woman Who Inspired ‘Hidden Figures’?
Hidden Figures is a film about the women of NASA who helped put Alan Shepard in space and John Glenn orbit the Earth.
KATHERINE G. JOHNSON SPEAKS ON HIDDEN FIGURES
Taraji P. Henson portrays Katherine G. Johnson, the real woman behind the math in the movie. Johnson worked at the racially segregated West Computing Group at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Johnson, in 2015 at 98 years old, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Johnson answered questions about her work in the early 60s in brief, mainly just describing that she did the work she had to do. When asked if she thought about the fact that she and the other women in the industry were pushing the boundaries in the sciences at the time, she simply said, “We did what we were asked to do to the best of our ability.”
“It was well-done,” she said of the film. “The three leading ladies did an excellent job portraying us.” When asked about a specific part of the movie, in which Henson, as Johnson, reverts back to “old” math to quickly figure out an issue, Johnson confirmed that actually occurred. “It seemed logical to me,” she said. “I could see in my mind what I needed and sort of worked backwards.”
She also admitted the movie and book the film is based on “were pretty accurate.” She stated that women back then did not get credit as authors on technical papers. “Dr. Christine M. Darden is the first person that comes to mind” when naming fellow colleagues who deserve to be featured. “We all provided valuable input to the process, there were many remarkable women there.”
When it comes to inspiring other women to take up STEM careers, Johnson said, “Just do it. Go see Hidden Figures and take a young person!”
Hidden Figures is now in theaters everywhere. Watch the trailer below.