“Up until recently, a women’s contribution to history has often been dismissed, discounted and often at times even erased from public acknowledgment,” said Hidden Figures executive producer Pharrell Williams during the film’s The Contenders Presented by Deadline panel in front of a standing-room-only DGA theater crowd last month. “I see that when you push women down, you are actually pushing them to stand up even stronger,” the multiple Grammy winner added of the film starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe about the pivotal role three African-American women played in NASA’s early success.


Crossing gender and racial barriers with a mind that John Glenn trusted more than any machine to make sure he made it into space and back in one piece, mathematician Katherine Johnson is portrayed by Empire star Henson. Oscar winner Spencer and, in her feature film debut, musician Monáe play her equally remarkable yet fellow unrecognized colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.


Set in the era of the space race as well as the rise of the civil rights movement, Hidden Figures puts a spotlight on a part of our nation’s hidden history – a point that attracted Williams to the project as both EP and contributor to the soundtrack. Part of that attraction was to overturn “the idea that these women were scientists and engineers and mathematicians when you can barely find a film about any of those studies in today’s films or even television,” he told the room full of Oscar and key guild voters. “I think women are going to save this nation,” Williams added, “to me this film embodies that, hidden no more, hidden no more.”

Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Theodore Melfi-directed Hidden Figures is set for limited release on Christmas Day before going wide on January 6. The Critics’ Choice Awards nominee from Fox 2000 Pictures also stars Kevin Costner, Mahershala Ali, The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Underground’s Aldis Hodge.

So, click on the video above of some of the Hidden Figures presentation at The Contenders to hear more from the passionate Williams. And BTW — Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in late 2015. In May, the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility was formally dedicated and opened at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, where Johnson used to work.

Hidden no more.