Katherine Johnson, real-life subject of 'Hidden Figures' receives standing ovation at Oscars

PHOTO: NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson appears onstage with actors, from left, Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer onstage during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center, Feb. 26, 2017, in Hollywood, Calif.PlayKevin Winter/Getty Images
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Katherine Johnson, one of the NASA research mathematicians portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film "Hidden Figures," received a standing ovation at the Academy Awards on Sunday.

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Johnson, portrayed in the movie by Taraji P. Henson, worked for NASA as a research mathematician for more than 30 years, according to NASA's website. Appearing at the Dolby Theatre, Johnson, now 98 years old, thanked the crowd for their support.

Johnson was instrumental in Alan Shepard's journey to become the first American in space and in John Glenn's mission to become the first American to orbit the Earth. She, along with the other women of color in the program, dealt with segregation in Jim Crow-era Virginia where NASA's Langley Research Center was located. Johnson didn't anticipate the success she would find at NASA, telling the Los Angeles Times that she "did what we were asked to do to the best of the ability."

"I was just excited to have challenging work to do and smart people to work with," she said.

Johnson has said she approves of her portrayal in the film.

"Go see 'Hidden Figures,' and take a young person," she told the Los Angeles Times last month when asked how to get more women and people of color involved in STEM careers. "It will give a more positive outlook on what is possible if you work hard, do your best and are prepared."

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