Landmark ‘Star Trek’ star Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

How ‘Star Trek’ Actress Nichelle Nichols Changed NASA


Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in her breakthrough role for a black actress on “Star Trek,” helped recruit people of color and women for NASA in real life. She was 89. .

Son Kyle Johnson wrote on Nichols’ official Facebook page, “Sadly we inform you that the great light in the sky has not been shining for us for many years. died naturally.

“But her light, like an ancient galaxy we see now for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn and inspire. It was such a model for everyone,” he wrote.

After “Star Trek,” Nichols became a NASA recruiter and played a key role in helping recruit people of color and women astronauts.

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump and director Todd Thompson, executive producers of the documentary Women in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remake of NASA, called her story “monumental.”

Nichols played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, a communications officer on the USS Enterprise in the television series Star Trek, which ran from 1966 to 1969. She has also reprized that role in her six films of the iconic sci-fi franchise.

Ovation TV premiere screening
Nichelle Nichols attends the Ovation TV Premiere of ‘Art Breakers’ on October 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA.

Araya Diaz/Getty Images for Ovation

Nichols was one of the first black actresses to appear on a primetime television show, and she and “Star Trek” made history in 1968 with the first interracial kiss on television.

“She was the third highest-ranking member of Space Command,” Crump said.CBS Saturday Morning’ 2021“I mean, black boys and girls are running up to the TV and saying, ‘Hey, black woman, is she in charge?'”

“Star Trek” suffered low ratings on its first run, and according to “CBS Saturday Morning,” Nichols was considering leaving the show after the first season to go to Broadway. But then she meets Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a devout Trekkie, who asks her to stay, saying it’s the only show she’s seen with her children. begged.

“He said, ‘I don’t understand the impact you’re having on everyone, not just black people, not just young women,'” she said in the documentary.

As “Star Trek” became more popular, members of NASA took note, became fans, and attended “Star Trek” conventions. Nichols once said he gave a speech to members of NASA and Crump noticed there were no women or minorities in the audience.

“I said, ‘Where’s my buddy?'” Nichols said in the documentary. “I meant it then, and I mean it now.”

The head of NASA was in the audience, grabbing attention and offering her a recruiting opportunity. Nichols founded a company called Women in Motion, and she traveled around the country recruiting women and people of color for NASA.

The effort paid off. In 1978, NASA recruited 35 of her for the first time, including 6 of her women and 4 of her people of color.

“This may sound a little corny, but it felt like my child,” she said in the “Women in Motion” documentary. knew that the world would never be the same again.We would go to great heights.”

Landmark ‘Star Trek’ star Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

Source link Landmark ‘Star Trek’ star Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

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