|Place of birth||Robbins, Illinois|
|Date of birth||December 28th, 1932|
|Date of death|
|First appearance||Star Trek: The Man Trap|
Nichelle Nichols, born Grace Nichols, is an American film and television actress born in Robbins, Illinois on December 28th, 1932. Nichelle is best known for playing the role of Communications Officer Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek television and film franchise. Nichelle's character was introduced in the season one episode of the original Star Trek television series, "The Man Trap" and has appeared in 67 out of 78 broadcast episodes. Nichols reprised the role of Uhura in the first six Star Trek feature films. She also served as a consultant to actress Zoë Saldaña, who re-imagined the character for the 2009 relaunch film simply titled Star Trek.
Before turning her sights towards acting, Nichelle was an accomplished singer and dancer. Having performed with the likes of jazz pioneers Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington, Nichelle's early stage work began with the musical play Kicks and Co. by playwright Oscar Brown (also from Illinois).
Nichelle's work on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek however, though minimal, made her an icon of not only the science fiction genre, but for African American culture and the feminist movement as well. As Nyota Uhura, Nichelle Nichols was the first black character regularly featured in a television series that was not portrayed as a stereotype. She was also the first female military officer to serve as part of the bridge crew of a ship. In one episode of the series, Nichelle and co-star William Shatner gained notoriety and more than just a little controversey by presenting the TV-viewing audience with the first televized interracial kiss. Nichelle's work on Star Trek earned the attention of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who encouraged her to remain on the series even after Nichols had considered quitting the show. Nichelle's character also inspired a young Caryn Elaine Johnson who, under her stage name Whoopi Goldberg, would earn herself a place in the Star Trek franchise as well playing the role of Guinan, a recurring guest star featured on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Along with the rest of the cast from the series, Nichelle Nichols also provided the voice for her character on the 1973-1974 Star Trek: The Animated Series. She was credited in all twenty-two episodes of the show and also provided the voice for several other characters including Doctor Sarah April, Karla Five, Devna, Kali, Magen, Anne Nored and an alien entity.
As a cultural icon, Nichelle Nichols has used her popularity to advocate career roles for other women and African Americans. Following the discontinuation of the first Star Trek series, Nichelle volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency, which proved to be a success. Those recruited include Doctor Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and United States Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut, as well as Doctor Judith Resnik and Doctor Ronald McNair, who both flew successful missions during the Space Shuttle program before their deaths in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28th, 1986.
In 1994, Nichelle Nichols published her memories entitled Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories. The first printing was published by G.P. Putnam's Sons and released in October, 1994. It was released again in 1995 by Boulevard Books and Boxtree. In the year 2000, Nichelle Nichols voiced a character called the Chief in the "The Yukari Imprint" episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.
Nichelle was one of several veteran sci-fi talents to appear on the popular TV series Heroes. She played a character named Nana Dawson and appeared in five episodes of season two.
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Notes & Trivia Edit
- Nichelle Nichols performed the song Oh, On the Starship Enterprise in the "Charlie X" episode of Star Trek.