Nichelle Nichols was best known for playing the legendary chief communications officer on the USS Enterprise in the television series “Star Trek,” but she also had a significant impact on the hiring of women and people of color for the country’s actual space program.
Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Nyota Uhura in the adored space drama set in the year 23rd, and who performed on stage early in her career, passed away on Saturday. She was 89.
Her art was just amazing. In the late 1970s, she actually assisted in recruiting the first batch of women and minorities “The third Black woman to fly into space, astronaut Joan Higginbotham, told Florida Today.
“She and I had a few meetings. Inside and out, she was stunning, according to Higginbotham.
Lt. Uhura from Star Trek, Nichelle Nichols, in a scene from the film “Woman in Motion.” The movie tells the story of Nichols’ effort to diversify NASA in 1977. Nichols, 89, passed away on Saturday.
Following the family’s Sunday announcement of Nichols’ passing, condolences flooded social media.
NASA posted a tweet in which it wrote, “We celebrate the life of Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek performer, trailblazer, and role model, who symbolized to so many what was possible.” She collaborated with us to find some of the first female and underrepresented-group astronauts, and she served as an inspiration to future generations.
More information The one-night-only screening of the documentary “Woman in Motion” about Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek, and NASA
Nichelle Nichols, the iconic Lieutenant Uhura from “Star Trek,” has passed away at age 89.
After “Star Trek,” which had an inclusive cast and a progressive viewpoint, Nichols was catapulted into global celebrity. The original show only ran for three seasons on television in the late 1960s, but syndication rebroadcasts in the 1970s helped it gain further popularity.
“Our future is in our space program. We haven’t even started to start, “Nichols once mentioned to a reporter.
Nichols pushed NASA to hire more women and minorities in order to break through the last barrier of the space program—a white, male astronaut corps—in 1977, four years after the final Apollo moon mission.
NASA became interested in the “Star Trek” sensation in the middle of the 1970s. NASA officials contacted the cast of the ground-breaking show as the space shuttle transitioned from design pages and engineering diagrams into reality. The USS Enterprise from the television series served as the inspiration for the first shuttle, which was unveiled at the Rockwell plant in Palmdale, California, in front of Nichols and his fellow cast members.
Actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Ntoya Uhura on “Star Trek,” waves as she enters the “Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond” homage on Sunday, October 6, 1996, at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles. Nichols passed away on July 30, 2022, according to her relatives. She was 89.
The space agency made the decision at the time that more women and minorities needed to participate in space exploration in the future. In 1977, the agency collaborated with Nichols’ business, Women in Motion Inc., to conduct hiring campaigns. According to NASA records, her contract was for six months.
Nichols made multiple trips to the Kennedy Space Center where he observed launches and spoke with potential recruits. She appeared in ads, spoke about her objective on network television in the late 1970s, and worked to clarify misconceptions and misperceptions about space travel and minority recruitment.
The space center received around 8,000 applications from women and underrepresented groups. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Guion Bluford, the first Black astronaut in the country, were two of the early recruiters.
By the time Higginbotham joined the astronaut corps in the middle of the 1990s, Nichols’ initiatives had already had a significant impact in altering the perception of space travel.
“Her actions had already been taken. That obstacle was removed, “said Higginbotham. She was unquestionably a trailblazer.
The Swahili term “uhuru” means “freedom,” and Nichols once recounted preparing to abandon her role as Lt. Uhura soon after the show’s 1966 premiere. Then Nichols visited with Martin Luther King Jr., who was a fan of the program in part because it portrayed the varied, utopian society that he had envisioned in his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.
William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Nichelle Nichols are all pictured as cast members from the first season of “Star Trek,” which debuted on NBC on September 8, 1966.
In an interview with USA Today, Nichols said that King had listened to her describe how she had grown frustrated with the role and wanted to quit the program. King would not accept it.
King told her, “You don’t realize the impact you are having, not just on Black people and young women, but on everyone.” “Just by being there, everyone’s thinking and attitude is altered enormously.”
She carried on portraying Uhura till the show was cancelled. Years later, the first Black woman in space, Mae Jamieson, credited Nichols as an influence and made her acting debut on “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
As the memory of the show grew, Nichols continued to play Uhura, appearing in six further Star Trek movies and attracting media attention.
The documentary “Woman in Motion,” which chronicled Nichols’ involvement with NASA and her trips to the Kennedy Space Center, made its release in 2021. Tim Franta, the film’s producer, is from Rockledge and spent years working on the project with zealous human rights lawyer Ben Crump, who is also from the Space Coast.
Every time I was with Nicole, it was joyful because she was clever, astute, and attractive, Franta remarked. “Numerous talents, including Duke Ellington, Gene Roddenberry, Wernher von Braun, Maya Angelou, and too many astronauts to list, respected her.
Franta, who also serves as the director of development for Starfighters Aerospace, stated that it was an honor to produce the defining documentary on Nichelle Nichols.
According to Higginbotham, Nichols’ portrayals of distinct Black characters on the show broke barriers inside the entertainment industry.
“She appeared in “Star Trek” at a time when Black women didn’t typically have such prominent parts. Usually, they worked as domestic help or in another capacity “She said.
“But she did a good job of portraying Black women. She was powerful, intelligent, and gorgeous.”
J.D. Gallop works as a breaking news and criminal justice reporter for Florida Today. Call 321-917-4641 or email [email protected] to reach Gallop. @JDGallop on Twitter.