The Hollywood Reporter
Making ofHidden Figures Image Credit: The Hollywood Reporter
Making ofHidden Figures Image Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

The Making Of 'Hidden Figures'

Telling the true-life tale of three little-known African-American female mathematicians who helped launch America into space — even though they weren’t allowed to use the ‘whites only’ bathrooms — turned out to be no harder than rocket science.

Pamela McClintock

In the spring of 2014, first-time author Margot Lee Shetterly was driving back to her hometown of Hampton, Va., from neighboring Virginia Beach when she got a call from a New York number. She pulled off the road into a supermarket parking lot and found herself talking to veteran producer Donna Gigliotti.

Gigliotti had gotten hold of Shetterly’s 55-page book proposal for Hidden Figures, the true-life but little-known story of African-American female NASA mathematicians. Shetterly’s book still was more than two years away from publication, but Gigliotti already was plotting its trajectory to the big screen.

“Donna told me, ‘We are going to make a movie out of your book proposal,’ ” recalls Shetterly, 47. “She was very, very confident. I was like, ‘My God, this is my first book.’ But everything she said on that first phone call came true. She really had a vision.”

That vision, which arrived on screens Dec. 25 (and has grossed $2.7 million to date), is an early 1960s-set drama with an original score by Pharrell Williams that stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer (who’s been nominated for a Golden Globe for her role). Set a


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