“Leslie Jones raised what now seems like an obvious question: Why did almost no one know this story before? Watch below.” has earned strong reviews and earned $84 million at the box office so far, which is to say that its title characters — three black women who played vital roles at NASA in the 1960s and beyond — aren’t as hidden as they were a month ago. Last night on “SNL,”
Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe star as the main trio (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson) in the film, which is based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name and takes place in the lead-up to John Glenn’s first orbit around the earth. Jones admits that she almost didn’t see “Hidden Figures” out of fear that it would be akin to “‘The Help’ in space,” but seems glad to have been proven wrong.
“Here’s my issue,” she says after admitting that the film wasn’t enough to make her want to go to space herself (that’s “where the Predator comes from,” she reminds us). “We cram all of black history into just month. All we have time for is George Washington Carver and all his peanut stuff. We should teach all black history all the year round and teach it to everybody.”
Other aspects she — and, in all likelihood, most of the rest of us — was unaware of: The traffic light was invented by a black man (Garrett Morgan), as was the mailbox (Philip B. Downing). Should her own story ever be told on film, Jones says, she’d like to be portrayed the way she sees herself: “Pam Grier 15 years ago and Malia Obama 10 years from now.”