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Film based in Hampton up for 3 Academy Awards

Posted at 9:01 AM, Jan 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 11:09:59-05

HAMPTON, Va. – The film “Hidden Figures” is up for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress.

The box office hit highlights the black female mathematicians at NASA Langley in Hampton whose brain power helped launch the first Americans into space.

The film has several ties to Hampton Roads.  The movie is based on the book “Hidden Figures” by Hampton native Margot Lee Shetterly.  Virginia Beach recording artist Pharrell Williams wrote the original soundtrack and is an executive producer for the movie.

“It feels good,” said 98-year-old former NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson of her role in history.

Johnson, portrayed in the film by Taraji P. Henson, calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space.  Johnson also confirmed, by hand, the launch calculations for John Glenn, the first American to circle the globe in 1962.

The movie also shines a light on the groundbreaking work of Hampton native Mary Jackson, a NASA engineer.  Recording artist Janelle Monae portrays her in the film.

Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer plays mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the box office smash.  Spencer has also been nominated for her role in the film.

“La La Land” leads the Oscar nominations, tying the all-time record of 14 nominations.  There are 9 best picture nominees, one more than the previous two years.

Check out the the full list of Academy Award nominees.