Nichelle Nichols Is Beaming Down To Auckgeddon
Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series (1966–1969) as well as the succeeding motion pictures, where her character was eventually promoted in Starfleet to the rank of commander. Nichols’ Star Trek character, one of the first African American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant, was groundbreaking in US society at the time. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr personally praised her work on the show and asked her to remain when she considered leaving the series. On Star Trek, Nichols gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant; her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the series, as she wanted to pursue a Broadway career; however, a conversation with Dr Martin Luther King Jr changed her mind. She has said that King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of the series. He said she “could not give up” because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country as well as for other children who would see blacks appearing as equals. Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison has cited Nichols’ role of Lieutenant Uhura as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut, and Whoopi Goldberg has also spoken of Nichols’ influence. Goldberg asked for a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the character of Guinan was specially created, while Jemison appeared in an episode of the series. In her role as Lieutenant Uhura, Nichols famously kissed white actor William Shatner as Captain James T Kirk in the 22 November 1968 Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren”. The episode is popularly cited as the first example of an interracial kiss on US television. The Shatner-Nichols kiss was seen as groundbreaking, even though it was portrayed as having been forced by alien telekinesis. There was some praise and some protest. On page 197 of her 1994 autobiography Beyond Uhura, Star Trek and Other Memories, Nichols cites a letter from a white Southerner who wrote, “I am totally opposed to the mixing of the races. However, any time a red-blooded American boy like Captain Kirk gets a beautiful dame in his arms that looks like Uhura, he ain’t gonna fight it.” During the Comedy Central roast of Shatner on 20 August 2006, Nichols jokingly referred to the kiss and said, “Let’s make TV history again – and you can kiss my black ass!” Despite the cancellation of the series in 1969, Star Trek lived on in other ways and continued to play a part in Nichols’ life. She again provided the voice of Uhura in Star Trek: The Animated Series. In one episode, “The Lorelei Signal”, Uhura assumes command of the Enterprise. Nichols noted in her autobiography her frustration that this never happened in the original series. Nichols has co-starred in six Star Trek motion pictures, the last one being Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
Nichelle appears work and health commitments pending.