Hidden Figures is nominated for Best Picture
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Taraji P. Henson didn’t have to think twice about signing on to star in Hidden Figures.

The actress opened up about working on the Oscar-nominated film while walking the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Sunday.

“It became a passion project,” she said. “I said, ‘I dont even care how much I’m getting paid.’ I signed on right away. Projects like this don’t come along often.”

Henson said she was immediately touched by the three real-life women that the film was based on, calling Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson “selfless heroes.”

“We know the obstacles that were stacked up against them,” she said. “[But] they never complained.”

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The Theodore Melfi-directed crowd-pleaser follows three female, African-American NASA mathematicians who successfully aided the U.S. space program amid racial tensions in the 1960s.

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“These women changed the course of history because they didn’t let those obstacles get in the way and they didn’t focus on problems, they focused on solutions.”

Check out PEOPLE’s full 2017 Academy Awards coverage and complete winners list!

Hidden Figures is nominated for Best Picture, and Octavia Spencer is also up for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film.

The 89th annual Academy Awards airs Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony, live on ABC.