Taraji P. Henson On the Math of Hidden Figures and Trying to Keep Her Cool Around the Obamas

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Hidden Figures made a huge splash this year as a movie that paid due to the real-life women who worked for NASA in the segregated West Area Computers division of Langley Research Center in the 1960s, pushing forward the message that STEM is, and has always been, an area for women of color–no matter how much men have historically tried to erase and keep them out.

In the film, Taraji P. Henson plays mathematics genius Katherine Johnson, who Henson considers to be a personal hero. The intense memorization the role called for, she says in this clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live, was essentially choreography with the supervision of a mathematician. We can see how Henson really nailed the math in the opening scene. I’m reminded a bit of Rami Malek talking about how he had to take typing lessons for Mr. Robot.

Hidden Figures is an important movie in so many ways, so it makes sense that Michelle Obama held a screening of the film at the White House. The actress pokes some fun at the image of Octavia Spencer meeting the Obamas that circulated, joking that she pulled her starstruck face together the best she could. Another amazing feat, as we’re not sure we could maintain any amount of chill next to the First Lady.

Henson also talks about Empire, which comes back in March, meeting Prince, private islands, and how she doesn’t indulge in math. Have you seen Hidden Figures yet?

(Image via screencap)

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