Taraji P. Henson stars in the film Hidden Figures, which documents the three Black women – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – who changed America by propelling the nation’s space program.
In a Q&A with Mashable, a tearful Henson shares just how important playing the role of Katherine Johnson was to her.
“I needed a departure from Cookie,” Henson admitted. “Not only that, but I never got into this industry or fell in love with acting because of the accolades.
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“I’m a girl from the hood. I didn’t grow up with much, so all I had was dreams and hopes, and the reason why this is so overwhelming is because when you come from a place where you have no dreams, no hope, and all you see is that people that look like you don’t belong, they have no place in society, this story was important. This story is so important.”
“If I had known about these women coming up,” Henson adds, “maybe I would’ve aspired to be a rocket scientist… This is all kids of color feel like they have. Sports. Rap. Acting. And there’s so much more important work to be done.”
Henson feels a deep connection to the Hidden Figures narrative and hopes that her portrayal in the film makes Johnson proud.
Hidden Figures hits theaters Jan. 13.