“Hailing frequencies open, sir.”
Nichols, who played communications officer Lieutenant Uhura in the original Star Trek TV series and feature films passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. She later collaborated with NASA to find underrepresented groups for the space programme.
Nichols gained long-lasting fame thanks to Star Trek, her role as one of the leads helped break new ground and began the slow breaking of barriers of racism and backwards thinking in television during the 60s. “I think many people took it into their hearts … that what was being said on TV at that time was a reason to celebrate,” Nichols said in 1992
However, in the first series Nichols began to get frustrated at just being part of the set and the majority of the stories being overshadowed by Kirk and Spock. In 1967, after she had already decided to leave the programme after its second season, she ran into Martin Luther King Jr at a civil rights rally.
Nichols recalled in 2008, “When I told him I was going to miss my co-stars and I was leaving the show, he became very serious and said ‘You cannot do that’”.
“‘You’ve changed the face of television forever, and therefore, you’ve changed the minds of people’,” she said the civil rights leader told her.
Nichols said: “That foresight Dr King had was a lightning bolt in my life.”
Uhura would go on to be one of the main characters, appear in iconic Str Trek moments and star in the successful feature films of the 80s and 90s.
(Uhura being kick ass)
Nichols would have a direct influence on later Star Trek and open up the eyes to those who thought the glass ceiling couldn't be broken.
Whoopi Goldberg asked Rodenberry for her role on Star Trek: The Next Generation. By the time it aired in 1987, she was already a well-known movie star on the big screen. The conversation between Rodenberry and Goldberg went like this:
“You’re a big screen star, why do you want to be on a little screen, why do you want to be in Star Trek?’
“Well, it’s all Nichelle Nichols’s fault.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well when I was nine years old Star Trek came on. I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mom, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be, and I want to be on Star Trek.”
RIP Nichelle Nichols the OG