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The first lady, who has already seen the film, will deliver remarks during the event, according to the White House official schedule. It’s not clear whether President Barack Obama will be in attendance, but the little-known story of three African-American women who played a key role in putting man into space during the early days of NASA is of keen interest to the outgoing president and his wife.
Directed by Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson, a physicist and mathematician who came up with the calculations needed for numerous space flights, from Project Mercury to the Space Shuttle missions. The period film, focusing on the late John Glenn’s historic 1962 orbit of the earth, also details the pioneering roles played by Johnson’s NASA colleagues, Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), even though all three had to endure a segregated workplace and society.
Spencer, Henson, Monae and co-star Kevin Costner will be in attendance at the screening, along with Melfi, Pharrell Williams and top executives from Fox and Chernin Entertainment, who partnered on the film adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name. Williams wrote original songs for the movie and composed the score with Hans Zimmer.
Johnson, now 97, also will be in attendance. A year ago, President Obama bestowed Johnson with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Hidden Figures bows in select theaters on Dec. 25 before opening nationwide on Jan. 6. The film is hoping for a spot in the Oscar race and on Wednesday was nominated for SAG’s top prize, best ensemble cast, while Spencer earned a Golden Globes nomination earlier in the week for best supporting actress.
The White House gathering comes just over a week after Glenn died on Dec. 8.
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