In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month this year, Amazon Studios premiers its stellar movie A Million Miles Away. Based on the remarkable story of NASA’s flight engineer José Hernández, Amazon Studios depicts what it means to be a child of migrants in the U.S.
Being proud of his Hispanic background, Hernández sheds light on how he navigated his childhood as a son of a migrant farmworker who would move relentlessly where ready-to-harvest crops existed.
“While lots of kids loved summer vacation, we — Hernández kids — hated it because it meant we would be working in the fields seven days a week,” Hernández said.
Hernández’s tenacious passion for becoming an astronaut became like a moth to the flames as early as the age of 10 upon witnessing Gene Cernan walking on the moon from his parents’ fickle, barely stable, TV set.
“Developing a love for space has been with me since I was a small kid. I believe it was since the first run of the Star Trek series in the late 60s,” Hernández told PBS. “But I knew there and then when I saw Gene Cernan walking on the surface of the moon that I want to be an astronaut.”
A Million Miles Away is the adaptation of the true-life account of an unrivaled astronaut. And seeing stellar icons like Michael Peña, Rosa Salazar, Bobby Soto, Sarayu Blue, Veronica Falcón, Julio César Cedillo, Garret Dillahunt, and Eric Johnson starring reflects Amazon Studios’ diligent selection of cast members.
As we hear Peña as “Hernández” say, “Every decision I’ve made, I’ve made with the space program in mind,” we recall the five-step roadmap that Hernández’s father laid out for his son to become the next NASA astronaut.
Replete with instances of transcending social barriers that migrants face on a daily basis — from discrimination to feelings of guilt and shame — the drama speaks to every immigrant family from all walks of life.
Having reached his dreams, Hernández reflects on his journey from a farmworker to NASA‘s renowned astronaut. “How cool is the fact that NASA allows you to do this? How cool is the fact that this country allows you to do this?” Hernández said. “It’s certainly a living true example of the American Dream.”
Thanks to the collaborative penning of Bettina Gilois, Hernán Jiménez and Alejandra Márquez Abella, the story zooms in on salient — yet overlooked — nuances like perseverance from the lens of a migrant family in the United States.
Interestingly, becoming an astronaut sounds effortless coming from Hernández, who outstandingly achieved his American Dream. That’s why Peña’s incredible acting skills come into play.
From pondering over his feelings of inferiority to compiling all the rejection letters in a box and missing his wife’s Labor Day, Peña seamlessly expresses the inner conflicts and uncertainty Hernández had to overcome in real life.
Directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella and produced by Mark Ciardi and Campbell McInnes, A Million Miles Away‘s authenticity lies in its ability to bridge generation gaps by combining older props — like chalkboards — with more contemporary settings like NASA’s modern headquarters.
With its invaluable reminders of persistence, tenacity and resilience, Amazon Studios’ inspiring drama is on our watch list. And we encourage every child of immigrants to immerse themselves in this unparalleled biopic of a legendary living astronaut.
A Million Miles Away premieres on Prime Video on September 15, exclusively in over 240 countries.