Nichelle Nichols, Lieutenant Uhura in 'Star Trek'

Nichelle Nichols has died at the age of 89. an actress who made history playing Lieutenant Uhura on ‘Star Trek’ since 1966. As reported by his son through FacebookNichols passed away of natural causes on Saturday, July 30: “I regret to inform you that a great star no longer shines in the firmament as it has for years”says the statement, “Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies we now see for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and inspire us. Hers was a life well lived and a great role model for all world”. how could you know The Hollywood Reporterthe actress lived for years in Silver City, New Mexico, with her family

Nichols was born in 1932 in Robbins, Illinois, and studied dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy. She began her artistic career as a dancer with Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington, a band for which she also sang. She made her film debut as a dancer and in 1964 she had a small role in Gene Roddenberry’s series ‘The Lieutenant’, where she played the fiancée of a black Marine who was a victim of the racism of the time. It was thanks to this appearance of hers that Roddenberry would choose her for another project that he had underway at NBC: ‘Star Trek: the original series’. In it Nichols got into the skin of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, a character of authority at a time when black actresses on television only played stereotypical servants. Uhura hailed from the United States of Africa of the future and was on the Enterprise for three seasons, until 1969. Later, she voiced the character in the 1973 animated series, in several video games, the ‘Futurama’ series, radio fiction, and returned to put a face on ‘Star Trek: The Movie’, ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’, ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock’, ‘Mission: Save Earth’, ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’ , ‘That unknown country’ and in ‘Star Trek: First Frontier’ this past 2020. Zoe Saldaña took over from her in the JJ Abrams films and Justin Lin and Celia Rose Gooding plays her in the new Paramount+ series ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’.

However, Nichols was not always happy with the character and according to the documentary ‘Trek Nation’, the actress informed Roddenberry that she wanted to leave the series in the middle of the first season because she believed that her role was insubstantial. Luckily, she chanced upon Martin Luther King, Jr. at a fundraiser for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who convinced her to stay on the series because he represented a vital role model for boys, girls and racialized youth across the country: “He told me that Star Trek was one of the few shows that he and his wife Coretta would allow their young children to stay up and watch.”, counted she herself, “I thanked him and told him I was leaving the series. The smile disappeared from his face and he said: “You can not do that. Don’t you understand that, for the first time, we are seen as we should be seen? You don’t have a black paper. You have an equal role»“. Mae Jemison, a former NASA astronaut and the first black American woman to travel to space, has cited the role to Lt. Uhura as her inspiration to become an astronaut.

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As a curiosity, in 1968, in the episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’, Uhura and Captain Kirk (William Shatner) star in an interracial kiss, something very little seen then in the movies or on television. Of course, according to the plot, the kiss occurs because aliens force them to, but NBC executives, worried about the repercussions it could bring, forced them to shoot a censored version of the scene that Nichols and Shatner deliberately botched every take until they relented and agreed to include the kiss. she recounted this anecdote in her memoir, titled ‘Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories’.

Other works

Outside the trekkie galaxy, Nichols was the grandmother of Dana Davis in ‘Heroes’, Lucinda Winters in ‘The Young and the Restless’ and participated in the films ‘Surge of Dawn’, ‘Mr. Malevolent’, ‘The White Orchid’, ‘Sharknado 5: Global Fluttering’, ‘This Bitter Earth’, ‘The Torturer’, ‘Tru Loved’, ‘Alaska Adventures’, ‘The Supernaturals’ and ‘Truck Turner’.

But Nichols wasn’t just an actress. After publicly berating NASA for failing to reach women and minorities, the organization hired her as a recruiter at universities and even the North American Aerospace Defense Command, where they did not allow civilians to enter. Thanks to her, they entered the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut; Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, and doctors Judith Resnik and dr. Ronald McNair. Nichols was invited to fly aboard the C-141 astronomy observatory, she attended the christening of the first space shuttle, and since the 1980s she served on the board of directors of the National Space Society.

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