Nichelle Nichols Biography
Born: December 28, 1933
Date of Birth: December 28, 1933
Best known for her groundbreaking role as Lt. Uhura from the original Star Trek series and films, Nichols originates from Robbins, Illinois. She started her professional career as a dancer and singer at age 16 when she toured with Duke Ellington company.
During her theatre run, she was twice nominated for the Sarah Siddons Award as Best Actress of the Year for her performance in The Blacks and Kicks and Company.
In 1959 she made her move into film with an uncredited role in Porgy and Bess. Six years later she landed her most famous role, Uhura, the Communications Officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise in the popular sci-fi series Star Trek. Her role broke the stereotypical barrier for the first time for African American actresses, with previous African American actresses always depicted as maids or housekeepers.
Her role also featured the first interracial kiss with co-star William Shatner, and became an inspiration to African American women such as actress Whoopi Goldberg, and NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison.
When the Star Trek series ended in 1969, Nichols continued to work in film and television, landing various roles in such films as Tarzan's Deadly Silence (1970), Truck Turner (1974), Antony and Cleopatra (1983), and The Supernaturals (1986). But with the enormous popularity of the Star Trek series when it came back in syndication, Nichols returned to the franchise and voiced her character in the animated series, as well as starring in six Star Trek feature films, Star Trek specials, video games and making numerous appearances at Star Trek conventions over the years.
Besides Star Trek, Nichols has spent many years as an inspirational speaker for the National Space Institute, encouraging minorities and women to apply for the Astronaut Corps.
From her efforts came applications from over a thousand women and an equal number of minority males, out of which six women - one of them Sally Ride (first female in space) - and three black men were selected as astronauts.
In the late '90s, she returned to the small screen, acting in a number of telefilms and specials such as Last Angel of History, The Adventures of Captain Zoom in Outer Space and Moonshot - the Spirit of 69 and voicing characters in the Batman, Spider-Man, Gargoyles, and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command animated series.