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'Hidden Figures': Aldis Hodge On Teaching Through Art

Actor Aldis Hodge discussed the importance of telling stories like "Hidden Figures" and plans for his career moving forward.
Image: Actor Aldis Hodge attends The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on Dec.11, 2016 in Santa Monica, Calif.
Actor Aldis Hodge attends The 22nd Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on Dec.11, 2016 in Santa Monica, Calif.Christopher Polk / Getty Images for The Critics' Choice Awards

Margot Lee Shetterly unearthed the story of three impressive women, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson with "Hidden Figures", which was nominated for three Oscars on Tuesday (best picture, best screenplay and Octavia Spencer for best supporting actress).

While transforming the story into a piece of non-fiction literature 20th Century Fox discovered it was gold and quickly began the film "Hidden Figures" about their story. Rounding out the cast were the men that filled out of the world of the trio of geniuses, one of those men being playing by actor Aldis Hodge.

Aldis Hodge got his start doing commercial spots and a stint on “Sesame Street” as a kid before landing a lead role on TNT drama “Leverage” at 21, which jump-started his career. Since the series ended in 2012, Hodge has had a series of impressive roles, including "Straight Outta Compton" and AMC series "Turn: Washington's Spies," the latest being playing Levi Jackson on “Hidden Figures.”

In the film, which tells the story of a team of African-American women who are instrumental in NASA’s first successful missions, Hodge plays the husband of Janelle Monae’s Mary Jackson, one of the women working for NASA.

Looking back on his career the actor sees how each role led to his current success. “Every single step, although I couldn’t see it, was a step forward and built to where I am now,” he told NBCBLK, “I am fortunate enough to find opportunities that have a lot of presence.”

“Hidden Figures,” which had considerable awards buzz even before its January 6 theatrical debut, is a film with substantial presence. Monae, alongside Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer, play three brilliant women who were disregarded for both their race and gender. “These women were subjugated because they are women then they are black and not respected because of the color of their skin, and no one is looking at their intellect or their mind,“ Hodge said. In the end what is accomplished is evidence of what can be done when we ignore what separates us and work together, according to the actor.

“A film like this is important because it teaches. When you do learn these things, when you understand what inclusion is, then we can accomplish greater things together,” he added.

Learning about the history of all people and teaching through his craft are important to Hodge, much of which can be credited to his heritage. His great-grandfather hailed from the Dominican Republic, his father from St. Thomas and his mother is African-American and Native American, all treasured pieces of Hodge’s identity. “I think the knowledge of where you come from gives you more of an affinity for understanding different cultures and learning,” he said.

“When it comes to looking at the industry where they lack culturally, it gives you more responsibility to do something about it. It gives you more appreciation for inclusion and having all of these cultures paint who you are as a person on screen,” Hodge added.

Between his role on the critically acclaimed “Hidden Figures” and his current television series “Underground,” a drama series about the Underground Railroad, Hodge has two major roles on powerful projects with historical significance.

“These projects teach and as an artist I would hope to fill my resume with pieces that are reputable, educational and helpful in some way because I want to leave behind a positive legacy,” he said.

A major part of that legacy is using his platform and hard work to help those pursuing careers in the entertainment industry. “In terms of big picture, I see myself being in a position of gratuitous opportunity, meaning that I can give out jobs,” Hodge explained.

“I want to be able to give people opportunities and careers. That’s what my next 5 years looks like,” he concluded.