'Hidden Figures' nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Picture

The “Hidden Figures” train keeps chugging along as the film picked up three Oscar nominations Tuesday morning, including Best Picture.

Based on the book of the same name by Hampton native Margot Lee Shetterly, the story centers on three African-American women working at NASA Langley facility during the space race in the 1960s.

On Tuesday morning, Shetterly, who has an executive producer credit for the film, was alone in a hotel room in Michigan, but her phone was lighting up from a stream of congratulatory messages.

“I set my alarm so I wouldn’t miss the nominations,” she said. “It’s just so exciting and thrilling.”

The movie centers on Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). Spencer picked up one of the film’s nominations, for Best Supporting Actress. She previously won in that category for “The Help.”

Shetterly was particularly excited about Spencer’s nomination.

“Dorothy Vaughan is somebody who had been completely forgotten. Her achievements weren’t well known,” she said. “Dorothy Vaughan is going to go down in the history book with the rest of these women.”

The Hampton Convention and Visitor Bureau is contemplating how it can highlight the womens’ successes, too. Ryan Downey, director of media and community relations, mentioned the possibility of a “Hidden Figures” tour around the Peninsula.

“It’s really bringing Hampton’s diversity, positive places of the city and space program to life,” Downey said. “It’s great publicity for the city.”

The movie’s popularity also ties into the 100th anniversary of NASA Langley. Rob Wyman, lead of NASA Langley's Communications Office, said in an email statement that he hopes the movies’ nominations will help inspire students to pursue STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — related fields.

“The women portrayed in ‘Hidden Figures’ represent thousands of NASA Langley employees who have made contributions to aviation and space exploration in our 100-year history,” Wyman said via email.

The film’s final nomination was for Adapted Screenplay, which went to Allison Schroeder and director Theodore Melfi. Of the 10 screenplay nominations given to films this year, Schroeder is the only female nominee.

Musician and Virginia Beach native Pharrell Williams also picked up a nomination in the Best Picture race. He served as a producer for “Hidden Figures.”

Other nominees for Best Picture are: “Arrival,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Hell or High Water,” “La La Land,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.”

The 89th Academy Awards will be televised live beginning at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 26 on ABC.

Black can be reached by phone at 757-247-4607.

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