Nichelle Nichols

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura ushered in Star Trek from Desilu Studios that began the enormous Star Trek Chain created by Gene Rodenberry.

FROM IMDB:

Her role as Uhura on Star Trek (1966) was one of the first times that an African-American actress was portrayed in a non-stereotypical role. Previously, African-American actresses were depicted as maids or housekeepers, and Nichols' role broke the stereotype barrier among African-American actresses. Like Sidney Poitier, whose characters were three-dimensional (e.g., Detective Virgil Tibbs), Nichols portrayed a character that was non-stereotypical.

Although ignored in the "famous actors/actresses" in African-American cinema, including "famous celebrities" during Black History Month, Nichols was one of the first black actresses to portray a character on a television series and science-fiction series who was treated the same as characters of other races, and to all Star Trek (1966) fans, the television series and films that followed set the standard for multiculturalism (where people of different races, ethnicities and genders are integrated and a sense of equality coexists).

With Star Trek (1966) co-star William Shatner, she shared the first on-screen kiss between a black female and white male on American television. This resulted in a deluge of mail - 99% of which was positive. Became the first African-American to place her handprints in front of Hollywood's Chinese Theatre, along with the rest of the original Star Trek (1966) series cast.

Discovered by Duke Ellington in her mid-teens, she toured with both Ellington and Lionel Hampton as a lead singer and dancer. Decades later, in 1992, she went back to her singing "roots", starring in a dramatic one-woman musical show called "Reflections", in which she became 12 separate song legends. She was also able to use her singing skills several times on Star Trek (1966). From the late 1970s until 1987, she was employed by NASA and in charge of astronaut recruits and hopefuls. Most of the recruits she launched were minority candidates of different races and/or ethnicities, as well as gender, like Guion Bluford (the first African-American male astronaut), Sally Ride (the first American female astronaut), Judith A. Resnik (one of the original female astronauts recruited by NASA, who perished during the launch of the Challenger on January 28, 1986), and Ron McNair (another victim of the Challenger disaster). She lived in Houston, Texas during her years as a Johnson Space Center employee.

Above Nichelle's Trek story as featured on Comedy Central's Drunk History

Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae C. Jemison was inspired by Nichelle when she decided to become the first African-American female astronaut. Jemison was a huge fan of the original Star Trek (1966) series. Frustrated with the racist harassment, culminating with her learning that the studio was withholding her fan mail, she submitted her resignation from Star Trek (1966) after consulting with series creator Gene Roddenberry.

She stated in several interviews that the harassment made her go back to work in theater until attending an NAACP fundraiser. The fundraiser was where a Star Trek fan was about to meet her for the first time and, to her astonishment, the fan turned out to be Dr. Martin Luther King. King stated that his wife and children had seen Star Trek on TV and it was the only television series that he had approved of. He said that her role as the fourth in command of the USS Enterprise became a positive role model for African-Americans. She withdrew her resignation from the series when King personally convinced her that her role was too important as a breakthrough to leave.

For more about Nichelle Nichols visit her web site www.uhura.com/ and on IMDB: www.imdb.com/name/nm0629667/