OK, we’re going to be honest here: when we heard Janelle Monae was joining a film about space, we were really hoping she’d be playing some outrageous funk alien. However, the news that the savant-y singer is joining a film about the three African-American women who were the brains behind NASA’s Friendship 7 mission? Well, that’s just as fantastic and out of this world.
Monae joins Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in the film about the mission that made John Glenn the first American to orbit the Earth (in February 1962), currently titled Hidden Figures, based off the forthcoming Margot Lee Shetterly book of the same name. The Ted Melfi-directed film will be Monae’s first-ever studio feature outing, as she’s mostly been known for her music career. Nerdist has reached out for independent confirmation but have not heard back at the time of publication.
According to the author’s website, “most Americans have no idea that from the 1940s through the 1960s, a cadre of African-American women formed part of the country’s space work force, or that this group—mathematical ground troops in the Cold War—helped provide NASA with the raw computing power it needed to dominate the heavens.”
It’s always satisfying to see increased diversity in Hollywood casting—but it’s especially inspiring to see a true story like this brought to life. Especially with such formidable actresses in the leading roles. Hidden Figures will follow Katherine Johnson (Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Monae) as they undertake an incredible feat of human ingenuity that would’ve been impossible without their work. Kevin Costner also co-stars as the head of NASA.
The hope is the novel iteration—and to another degree, the film—will recover “the history of these pioneering women and situates it in the intersection of the defining movements of the American century: the Cold War, the Space Race, the Civil Rights movement and the quest for gender equality,” Shatterly’s site notes. Between this and Annihilation, we’re beyond pumped about where space stories are heading in the future.
What do you think about the news? Let us know in the comments below!
HT: The Wrap
Image Credit: Mark Sebastian/Flickr
Alicia Lutes is the Managing Editor of Nerdist. Find her on Twitter (@alicialutes), where she’s probably talking about aliens because she loves them.
And while we’re here talking about NASA, have you met the ladies of Girl NASA yet?