Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed communications officer Uhura on the original Star Trek series, died July 30, 2022 at the age of 89. Nichols was a ground-breaking actress whose role as Uhura in the 1960s showed a black woman in a position of authority and shared with co-star William Shatner one of the first interracial kisses on American prime-time. She then went on to voice Uhura on Star Trek: The Animated Series as well as playing her in the first six films.
Before Star Trek, Nichols was a young singer and dancer with few acting credits who saw the role as a stepping stone to Broadway and never predicted the impact that she would make in the sci-fi franchise. After Star Trek, she went on to found Women in Motion, an initiative which produced educational materials based around music and later expanded to become an astronaut recruitment project for women, thanks to a grant from NASA. In her career that spanned many decades, she also released three vocal albums and wrote her memoir Beyond Uhura in 1994.
Her son, Kyle Johnson, announced her death on Facebook, noting that, although she is gone, “her light…, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration. Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”
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