Oscar winner Octavia Spencer faces prejudice in ‘Hidden Figures’

Octavia Spencer whose powerful performance in “The Help” won her a Best Supporting Actress in the Oscars stars in another riveting role in the inspiring story of women of courage in “Hidden Figures.”

Spencer plays one of the three brilliant mathematicians working in NASA at a time when prejudice and discrimination in the early 1960s ran high. Based on the stories of real life women, Spencer’s role, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson) made remarkable accomplishments against all odds and breaking barriers when they helped America win the space race that paved the way for future generations.

“Hidden Figures” is an exciting film about courage, resilience and empowerment, focusing on a trio of gifted women whose excellent work in the fields of mathematics and aerospace engineering was of crucial importance in turning around the space race. It is also an emotional story about the friendship that developed between the three women and the challenges they faced in their families and communities, who were forging ahead in their extraordinary careers, while dealing with segregation.

Known as ‘colored computers’, they crossed racial and gender boundaries at NASA (America’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration), where they proved to be indispensable—the best at their jobs. The black mathematicians had to eat separately from their white counterparts and use ‘colored’ restrooms. Yet as the movie relates, everyone set aside prejudice and differences, joining forces to do groundbreaking work.

Katherine Johnson’s mathematical calculations were key to the success of John Glenn’s historic ‘Friendship 7’ mission, which made him the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Mary Jackson (musician Janelle Monáe in her first major film role) was a dynamic and brilliant young woman who found herself in an untenable position. She became the first woman of any color to be an engineer at NASA. Dorothy Vaughan, played by Octavia Spencer, was in charge of the black computers. At the time, the first electronic IBM computer had been introduced at NASA. Vaughan was one of the few who understood its significance.

“Octavia is one of the best actresses in the world,” says director Ted Melfi, who made last year’s acclaimed film, “St. Vincent.” So for her to play the rock of the movie was great. She guides the computing group. She’s the maternal figure for her friends. She’s the one with all the wisdom and Octavia was the perfect choice for me.”

For Spencer, who will also be seen in the upcoming “Gifted” with Chris Evans, “Hidden Figures” offered an interesting role she couldn’t resist. “It was amazing that so many women who were integral to the space race were somehow omitted from history. I’m not just talking about African American women; I’m talking about all the women involved; there were black and white female computers at NASA. It is so interesting when you start thinking about who the ‘computers’ were; they were human beings who actually sat down and did all these crucial mathematical calculations. I love the fact that their journey is now a Hollywood story. The women who were involved in the space program would change history in a way that nobody could ever imagine, and it is amazing that nobody knew about them until now. It is really exciting. I wanted to be a part of a story that celebrates those contributions and that empowers women, so I’m very happy to be involved.”

Also starrring Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons. With a score from multiple Grammy winning musician Pharrell Williams, the film is compelling and highly entertaining.

Opening February 22, 2017 in Philippine cinemas, “Hidden Figures” is from 20th Century Fox and to be distributed by Warner Bros.

‘Sing’ vies for best animated motion picture, original song at Golden Globes

Sing, the new musical comedy from Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment, is up for two major honors at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards happening on January 10, 2017.

The critically acclaimed and box-office smash film is vying for Best Motion Picture – Animated and Best Original Song with Stevie Wonder’s “Faith.”

Reacting to the double nominations, Illumination founder and Sing producer Chris Meledandri said, “From Santa Monica to Paris, the entire Illumination team is overjoyed. On behalf of my producing partner Janet Healy and our exceptionally talented writer director Garth Jennings as well as everyone at Illumination Mac Guff and our partners at Universal, I want to thank the HFPA for recognizing the work of all of the artists who created SING as well as the legend Stevie Wonder for giving us ‘Faith.’”

Just like Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from Illumination’s Despicable Me 2, “Faith,” performed by Wonder featuring Ariana Grande, is as powerful as it is infectious. Produced by multiple Grammy Award-winning producers Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco, the film’s end title song is synonymous with never giving up. Tedder discusses its import: “There’s an uplift and inclusion to this song that bridges generations. With Ariana’s range and Stevie’s vocals, ‘Faith’ is the perfect song to give the audience as they take the messages of Sing with them.”

Sing stars Academy Award® winners Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon, alongside Seth McFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton and Grammy Award-nominated Tori Kelly.

Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, Sing stars Buster Moon (McConaughey), a dapper koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal—some might even say delusional—optimist who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now faced with the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition.

Five lead contestants emerge: Mike (MacFarlane), a mouse who croons as smoothly as he cons; Meena (Kelly), a timid teenage elephant with an enormous case of stage fright; Rosita (Witherspoon), an overtaxed mother run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets; Johnny (Egerton), a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s felonies; and Ash (Johansson), a punk-rock porcupine struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo.

Each arrives under Buster’s marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life. And as Buster coaches each of his contestants closer and closer to the grand finale, he starts to learn that maybe the theater isn’t the only thing that is in need of saving.

Opening across the Philippines on January 4, 2017, Sing is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures. #SingMovie