Hidden Figures

2016 film directed by Theodore Melfi

Hidden Figures is a 2016 film about a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program.

Directed by Theodore Melfi. Written by Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Meet the women you don't know, behind the mission you do.  (taglines)

Dorothy Vaughan

  • Separate and equal are two different things. Just 'cause it's the way, doesn't make it right, understand?
  • If you act right - you are right. That's for certain.
  • This is all true!
  • [gets the IBM computer properly working] Thatta girl.

Mary Jackson

  • I plan on being an engineer at NASA, but I can't do that without taking them classes at that all-white high school, and I can't change the color of my skin. So I have no choice, but to be the first, which I can't do without you, sir. Your Honor, out of all the cases you gon' hear today, which one is gon' matter hundred years from now? Which one is gon' make you the first?
  • Every time we get a chance to get ahead they move the finish line. Every time.

Al Harrison

  • We get to the peak together, or we don't get there at all.
  • Whoever gets there first will make the rules.


  • Levi Jackson: Civil rights ain't always civil.


[Dorothy Vaughan's 1957 Chevrolet has stalled out on the side of the road; a Virginia State Police cruiser drives up and stops, and a State Trooper gets out and looks at Mary, Dorothy and Katherine.]
State Trooper: Not a great place for the three of y'all to be havin' car trouble.
Mary Jackson: We didn't pick the place, Officer, it picked us.
State Trooper: [glaring at Mary] You bein' disrespectful?
Mary Jackson: No, sir.
State Trooper: You have identification on ya?
Katherine: We sure do. We're just on our way to work. At Langley. NASA, sir.
[Mary, Katherine and Dorothy all display their NASA ID cards.]
Dorothy Vaughan: We do a great deal of the calculating getting our rockets into space.
State Trooper: All three of ya?
Mary Jackson: Yes, Officer.
[The State Trooper studies Mary's ID card for a few moments.]
State Trooper: NASA. That's somethin'. Had no idea they hired...
Dorothy Vaughan: [politely; the Trooper meant something else] There are quite a few women working in the Space Program.
[The State Trooper looks up at the sky suspiciously.]
State Trooper: Damn Russians are watching us right now. Sputniks. [turning his attention back] You girls ever meet those astronauts? The Mercury Seven?
[There is a moment's pause; the three women have never met the Mercury Seven but decide not to admit that.]
Mary Jackson: Absolutely.
State Trooper: Alan Shepard? John Glenn?
Katherine Johnson: We work with those gentlemen all the time.
State Trooper: Those boys are the best we got. That's for sure. We have'ta get up there before the Commies do. Whole damn country's countin' on 'em.
Dorothy Vaughan: That's for certain.
Mary Jackson: Hard to be of service broken down on the side of the road, though.
State Trooper: That's right. That's right. You need a tow or somethin'?
Dorothy Vaughan: No, thank you, Officer. I think I got it, right here. Just have to bypass the starter. [Dorothy touches the screwdriver to between the battery poles; the car starts.] That's a girl. We're all set.
State Trooper: Hell, least I can do is give you an escort. Imagine y'all are runnin' late to work.
Katherine Johnson: Oh, we wouldn't want to trouble you-
Mary Jackson: That would be wonderful, Officer.
State Trooper: Follow me.
Mary Jackson: I'm drivin'. Hurry up, Dorothy, before he changes his mind.
[Cut to the State Trooper's cruiser flying down the road, lights and siren on, with Mary following close behind.]
Dorothy Vaughan: Slow down, Mary! You're too close!
Mary Jackson: He said to follow him.
Dorothy Vaughan: Doesn't mean you hit him in the ass!
Katherine Johnson: Dear Lord... please... I don't even know where to begin!
Mary Jackson: I'll tell you where to begin: three "colored" women are chasing a white police officer down a highway in Hampton, Virginia, 1961. Ladies, that there is a God-ordained miracle!
Katherine Johnson: Next time, I'm taking the bus!

Vivian Mitchell: Despite what you may think, I have nothing against y'all.
Dorothy Vaughan: I know. I know you probably believe that.

Karl Zielinski: Mary, a person with an engineer's mind should be an engineer. You can't be a computer the rest of your life.
Mary Jackson: Mr. Zielinski, I'm a negro woman. I'm not gonna entertain the impossible.
Karl Zielinski: And I'm a Polish Jew whose parents died in a Nazi prison camp. Now I'm standing beneath a spaceship that's going to carry an astronaut to the stars. I think we can say we are living the impossible. Let me ask you, if you were a white male, would you wish to be an engineer?
Mary Jackson: I wouldn't have to. I'd already be one.

Al Harrison: Where’s the machine?
Ruth: Any day now, Mr. Harrison.
Al Harrison: Any day now. What’s it called? The initials...the letters?
Ruth: IBM.
Paul Stafford: International business machine.
Al Harrison: Space is business?! I need a mathematician.

Katherine Johnson: How can you be possibly ogling these white men?
Mary Jackson: It's equal rights. I have the right to see fine in every color.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Johnson: They let women handle that sort of... [sees Katherine looking offended] That's not what I mean.
Katherine Johnson: What do you mean?
LTC Jim Johnson: I'm just surprised at something so taxing.
Katherine Johnson: Oh Mr. Johnson, if I were you, I'd quit talking right now.
LTC Jim Johnson: I don't mean no disrespect.
Katherine Johnson: I will have you know, I was the first negro female student at West Virginia University Graduate School. On any given day, I analyze the manometer levels for air displacement, friction and velocity, and compute over ten thousand calculations by cosine, square root and, lately, analytic geometry. By hand. There are twenty bright, highly capable negro women in the West Computing Group, and we're proud to be doing our part for the country. So yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it's not because we wear skirts. It's because we wear glasses. Have a good day.

[Al Harrison comes out of his office to just as Katherine Johnson gets back from yet another long trip to the colored staff bathroom.]
Al Harrison: Where the hell have you been? Everywhere I look you're not where I need you to be, and it's not my imagination. Now, where the hell do you go everyday?
Katherine Johnson: The bathroom, sir.
Al Harrison: [With rising anger] The bathroom. The damn bathroom. For forty minutes a day? What do you do in there? We are T-minus zero here; I put a lot of faith in you.
Katherine Johnson: There's no bathroom for me here.
Al Harrison: What do you mean, "there's no bathroom" for you here?
Katherine Johnson: There is no bathroom. There are no colored bathrooms in this building, or any building outside the West Campus, which is half a mile away. Did you know that? I have to walk to Timbuktu just to relieve myself! And I can't use one of the handy bikes. Picture that, Mr. Harrison. My uniform, skirt below the knees and my heels. And simple string of pearls. Well, I don't own pearls. Lord knows you don't pay the colored enough to afford pearls! And I work like a dog day and night, living on coffee from a pot NONE OF YOU WANNA TOUCH! So, excuse me if I have to go to the restroom a few times a day.
[Cut to the NASA team standing out in the hallway; Mr. Harrison knocks the "Colored Ladies Room" sign with a crowbar while the staff watch until the sign is finally down]
Al Harrison: There you have it. No more colored restrooms. No more white restrooms. Just plain old toilets. [he throws the crowbar on the floor] Go wherever you damn want, please. Preferably closer to your desk. Here at NASA... We all pee the same color.

John Glenn: Let's get the girl to check the numbers.
Al Harrison: The girl?
John Glenn: Yes, Sir.
Al Harrison: You mean Katherine?
John Glenn: Yes, Sir, the smart one. And if she says they're good, I'm ready to go.


  • Meet the women you don't know, behind the mission you do

  • Based on the untold true story.


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