Unforgettable star performer of Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, television and film star Nichelle Nichols died at 89.
The month of July comes to a sad end with this new disappearance. Legendary Nichelle Nichols, actress and singer, has left us after being an icon for many years of Star Trek fans Star Trek. In addition to being one of the protagonists of the original 1966 series, the actress was a pioneer in the representation of African Americans on television and a great fighter for the cause throughout her life.
Born Grace Dell Nichols, the actress entered the artistic world at the age of fourteen as a dancer and singer with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. After a role as an extra in Otto Preminger's Porgy and Bess, she found herself on television in an episode of the series The Lieutenant. It was thanks to the show's showrunner, Gene Roddenberry, that she landed the role of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek.
So she appears in the first episode of one of the most famous science fiction series in 1966 as a recurring member of the crew of the USS Enterprise. She becomes the first African-American woman in history to hold a leading role on American television. Not only that, but Nichelle Nichols plays a character who explodes the stereotypes of the time and who is very appreciated by the public. For once, no allusion is made as to his skin color in the story and his writing is largely as developed as that of the other protagonists.
It is a real little cultural revolution that is embodied with the actress. Thanks to the support of Gene Roddenberry, who fights against the producers so that she is retained in the series, or even Martin Luther King (very involved in the representation of African-Americans in cinema and television), she continues to play the character for three seasons and 69 episodes.
While the United States is still struggling with its segregationist demons, Nichelle Nichols inspires from the small screen. She offered, by kissing William Shatner in an episode of the series, in 1969, a historic “first time” for American television: a kiss between a white actor and an African-American actress. This one will also be censored on certain channels.
She was also able to exploit her talents as a singer with several musical performances in the emission. In addition, she had released two albums of her own:Down to Earth in 1967 and Out of This World in 1991. It was also by singing that she was able to pay her last respects to Gene Roddenberry at his funeral in 1991.
After the original series, the actress was able to resume her role in six Star Trek films, the last released in 1991. She has also appeared as a guest in various series (Futurama, The Simpsons strong>, Heroes) and franchises derived from Star Trek. She finally supported NASA and many space programs, while encouraging more and more astronauts of color to try their luck.
Deceased July 30, 2022 in New Mexico, Nichelle Nichols will remain an important science fiction icon and inspiration to many.