Move over Lego Batman, there’s a new superhero in town: former NASA physicist/mathematician Katherine Johnson. The real-life heroine is one of the subjects of Fox’s Best Picture Oscar nominee and now she’s getting her own Lego figure as part of the Women of NASA set that’s won the Lego Ideas design contest.
Before the Oscars turned into a mass of confusion on Sunday night, one of the highlights was Johnson’s appearance alongside Hidden Figures stars (and SAG cast award winners) Taraji P Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer to present the Best Documentary Feature statue.
The film has shed light on the story of a group of extraordinary women working at NASA in the 1960s during the height of segregation and the struggle for civil rights. Along with Johnson (Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Monae), an entire team of gifted black women mathematicians helped perform the complex calculations necessary to launch astronauts into the cosmos.
Based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Theodore Melfi-directed Hidden Figures is the first movie to tell these women’s stories. It’s grossed a fantastic $153M domestically through this past weekend and is in staggered release internationally where it has made just over $30M including a two-week run at No. 1 in Australia.
As Anthony D’Alessandro has noted, one of the things that’s been propelling Hidden Figures’ box office is its positive message about unification during a time when sociopolitical morale is near rock bottom.
Johnson, who is 98-years-old and a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, will see her Lego figure joined in the set by computer scientist Margaret Hamilton; astronaut, physicist and educator Sally Ride; astronomer Nancy Grace Roman; and astronaut and physician Mae Jemison.
(NASA was even further repped at the Oscars by Firouz Naderi, the project manager for the Mars exploration, and Anousheh Ansari, the first self-funded woman to have gone into space — they appeared to collect the Best Foreign Language prize for Asghar Farhadi.)
The Lego Ideas competition takes place twice a year with fans submitting designs. The Women of NASA set was concocted by Maia Weinstock, a science writer and Deputy Editor at MIT News.
Hubble and George Takei also weighed in: