‘Hidden Figures’ Has Oscar Buzz — and an East Orange Connection

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Zani Jones Mbayise is just a regular little girl living in East Orange, but she’s also acting on the big screen in a movie with lots of Oscar buzz.

Turns out that Zani, who likes to spend time in Maplewood and South Orange with her mom Andrea Jones Sojola, plays the young Kathy Johnson in “Hidden Figures.” None other than Taraji P. Henson plays the grown-up Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who aids NASA in launching the space program.

Andrea has become active in the Swap SOMa Lounge Facebook Group where she recently announced Zani’s breakthrough role: “Just wanted to let you know that my daughter Zani is in a movie called HIDDEN FIGURES … We hope you can get out to see it this weekend. It’s a feel-good, FAMILY movie, so you can even take the children. It’s very uplifting and I hope it will put a smile on your face!!
Thanks for your support.”

The Swap community has responded warmly and with rave reviews:

Leah Gomberg wrote, “It’s such a beautiful movie! We LOVED it!”

“I saw it today and it was amazing,” wrote Meredith Lambert. “Congrats to your daughter, she is adorable and was wonderful! So talented at such a young age.”

Marie McGehee loved the message of the movie: “Such an inspiring movie! We saw it with our daughter. Congratulations.”

Hidden Figures is currently playing locally at Bow Tie Cinemas South Orange at the South Orange Performing Arts Center. See show times here

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