First Lady Michelle Obama praised "Hidden Figures" as a "remarkable" and "important" film
On Thursday, the first lady hosted a private White House screening of the biopic about three black female engineers and mathematicians who worked at NASA in the early days of the space race.
Cast members Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe and Kevin Costner attended the event, where Obama delivered remarks and praised the “remarkable” and “important” film for celebrating not only what America achieved by becoming the first country to put a man on the moon, “but, more importantly, how we achieved it.”
“We sought out the very best minds in math and engineering at the time, people with diverse perspectives who could think in ways that no one had ever thought before — people like many of you in this room, the people like Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan,” she said, naming the NASA employees Hidden Figures was based on.
“These women couldn’t even drink from the same water fountain or use the same bathroom as many of their colleagues … and folks didn’t always take these women seriously because they were black, and also because they were women,” she said.
There’s an important life lesson to be learned from these women, Obama said: “They didn’t listen to those doubters. They did not listen to the haters — because they’re always out there. They’re out there even today.”
“They listened to their families and their friends who said, ‘you are worthy,’ and they told them, ‘don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are less-than.’ … And each of these women decided to believe in herself and step up when her country needed her. And more than anything else, that is the great American story that is told in this film. That’s why this film is so important.”
Obama also showered praise on the film’s stars, including “our girl Janelle Monáe,” whom she referred to as “my little child here, my other one,” and Costner, who she said “is still as handsome as ever.”
“I said that after my husband left,” she added to laughs. “He’s not watching.”
The cast and crew documented the special day on social media, tweeting photos of Henson, Spencer, Monáe and Costner at the White House.
“FLOTUS talks about the power of our film. 5-star review!” tweeted proud director Theodore Melfi, who also attended the screening.