EAST ORANGE, NJ - Zani Jones Mbayise, a young actor from East Orange, is once again making news; this time on the "big screen." Mbayise stars in a new movie that was released last Friday, Hidden Figures, with Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Kevin Costner.
Hidden Figures is about the three black women who helped NASA put John Glenn into space. Mbayise plays one of the daughters of the main character, Katherine Johnson.
TAPinto East Orange/Orange caught up with Mbayise's mother, Andrea Jones Sojola. She responded, “We filmed in Atlanta for two weeks. Zani connected immediately with the two actresses playing her sisters. Saniyya Sidney (Fences) and Ariana Neal (Fruitvale Station). It's nice because she didn't share scenes with any children in her first movie, How To Be Single.”
Sojola continued, “(The movie was) very special because my dad, Zani's grandfather, passed last January. She auditioned soon after he passed. A bit of time passed by before heading back from casting. We had actually forgotten about the audition. It was a big surprise when they confirmed her participation. When they told us it was filming in Georgia, we were excited because that's where my dad was from. We felt that Daddy was orchestrating from Heaven!”
“We've definitely had many opportunities to teach Zani about the state of America in the 60s. It's easy to forget and the new generation of children will have no idea what America was like in the era in which their grandparents lived. We're glad to know that organizations are bringing groups in droves to see the film. Sororities, Girl Scout Troops, Stem groups and the like are running to Hidden Figures. We are ecstatic that Zani had a part in telling the story of these three bright women that were almost unheard of until now," said Sojola.