Taraji P. Henson Leaves Cookie Lyon Far Behind in Hidden Figures

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Taraji P. Henson is taking a break from running Empire to tackle the final frontier in the upcoming film Hidden Figures. The Oscar-nominated actress reminds us that she can do a lot more than strut like Cookie Lyon by playing Katherine Johnson, a brilliant, real-life NASA mathematician whose story was chronicled in Margot Lee Shetterly’s nonfiction book of the same name. Shetterly focused on the previously unsung black women who used their mathematical brilliance to help John Glenn become the first American astronaut to orbit around the Earth.

Alongside Johnson are NASA colleagues Dorothy Vaughan (Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Grammy-nominated artist Janelle Monáe, making her major film debut). Directed by Ted Melfi (St. Vincent), the film also starsKevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, and Glen Powell as John Glenn.

The trailer, which you can watch above, promises a well-rounded look at Johnson’s life, showing her beginnings as a preternaturally gifted young child, through to her time at NASA, battling both sexism and racism in order to succeed at her job. And don’t expect Cookie’s brash attitude to peek through—Johnson is on the shy (and less sartorially flashy) side.

“A quiet storm, that’s what I call her,” Henson said of the reserved but confident Johnson in a recent interview.

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