Image Source: Indian Express
Nichelle Nichols, an American actress best known for her work on the science fiction television series Star Trek in the 1960s, passed away at the age of 89.
One of the first black actresses to play a leader in the US, Ms. Nichols broke barriers in the series as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura.
Later, she worked for NASA in an initiative to promote the ascent of more women and people of color into the astronaut ranks.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, said she passed away on Saturday evening from natural causes.
The communications officer, Lt. Nyota Uhura, was portrayed by Nichols in the “Star Trek” TV series and many of its spinoff movies.
A black woman playing a significant role on a prime-time show was an anomaly in television when “Star Trek” premiered in 1966. Before Nichols’ Uhura, there had been African-American women on TV, but they typically had minor roles as domestic helpers; Uhura was a crucial member of the multiracial “Star Trek” crew.
“The first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a black woman in television history,” the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said of it.
Since her character kissed James T. Kirk, who was played by white Canadian actor William Shatner, it became well-known that Nichols had a hand in one of the first inter-racial kisses on US television. In a 2014 interview with CNN, Nichols said the kiss scene “changed television forever, as well as the way people looked at one another.”
Nichols committed herself to the space program after “Trek’s” three seasons. Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, and Guion Bluford were among the astronauts she helped recruit, and she also contributed to NASA’s becoming a more diverse organization.
Hikaru Sulu’s co-star George Takei, who played him, posted a heartfelt remembrance on social media.
By utilizing black and other underrepresented actors in prominent roles, the 1960s television series Star Trek helped to dispel stereotypes.
In the show, Ms. Nicholls played Lt. Uhura, a communications officer who defied stereotypes by being portrayed as competent and level-headed.
She made history in 1968 when she and William Shatner, the actor best known for playing Captain Kirk in the Star Trek television series, shared one of the first interracial kisses on television, even though it was not a romantic one.
Despite her success, Ms. Nicholls had initially thought about quitting the program. But Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. persuaded her otherwise, calling her role the “first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a black woman in television history.”
The Star Trek television series ended in 1969, and she later appeared in the first six Star Trek films.
Ms. Nicholls, who also works as an actress, was appointed an ambassador for NASA, the US space agency, and she assisted in the program’s recruitment of women and underrepresented groups.
About Nichelle Nichols
Grace Dell Nichols was born in 1932 as Nichols.She adopted the name Nichelle as a teenager because she was unhappy with Grace. A rift in his family developed as a result of his grandfather’s marriage to a black woman while he was a white Southerner.
Nichols began singing in local clubs at the age of 14 thanks to her four-octave vocal range. Duke Ellington, with whom she later went on tour with, was one of the musicians she encountered. Additionally, she performed in theaters and clubs throughout Chicago.
Early in the 1960s, she made the move to Los Angeles, where she landed a part in “The Lieutenant,” a Gene Roddenberry television series. Veteran “Star Trek” actors like Majel Barrett, Walter Koenig, and Leonard Nimoy all contributed to the project.