Nichelle Nichols is a legendary actress, author, producer, singer, space activist, NASA Recruiter and spokesperson. She has a vibrant career in television and movies spanning six decades. In 1966, her ground-breaking role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original Star Trek TV series brought her an enduring, international fame.
The impact of Nichelle’s iconic portrayal of a strong, smart, and independent, African-American woman reverberated throughout the culture in the late 60’s and 70’s, motivating the Reverend Martin Luther King to praise Nichelle as a positive role model for young African-American women. Her role as Lt. Uhura was noteworthy for many reasons but especially for one breakthrough moment: the first interracial kiss ever shown on national television.
Prior to playing Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols guested on Gene Roddenberry’s first series, The Lieutenant. Born in Robbins, Ill., near Chicago, Nichelle’s remarkable singing voice was discovered by Duke Ellington. On the West Coast, she appeared in “Roar of the Grease Paint, Smell of the Crowd,” “For My People,” gathering high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play, “Blues for Mr. Charlie.” Following the original Star Trek television series, Nichelle appeared in the first six Star Trek movies. Along with other original Star Trek cast members, she attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at Cape Canaveral.
Since the ‘70s, she’s spent much of her time recruiting minorities for NASA. Several years ago, she toured in a one-woman play where she portrayed famous black female singers of the 20th century. She has also acted as spokesperson for her favorite charity, The Kwanzaa Foundation. Her biography, Beyond Uhura, was published in 1994.