Star Trek fans are mourning the loss of Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Nyota Uhuru in the original series and its film sequels, following her death on July 30 of natural causes. Among mourners are franchise stars past and present as well as other celebrities who were inspired by Nichols, a trailblazing actress who also played an integral role in recruiting diverse astronauts for NASA.
Leading the tributes was George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu alongside Nichols.
“I shall have more to say about the trailblazing, incomparable Nichelle Nichols, who shared the bridge with us as Lt. Uhura of the USS Enterprise, and who passed today at age 89. For today, my heart is heavy, my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend,” Takei shared via Twitter.
“We lived long and prospered together,” he added.
William Shatner worked alongside Nichols and Takei remembers the former as a “beautiful woman” who “played an admirable character.
Celia Rose Gooding, who currently stars as Nyota Uhura in the Paramount+ Original Series Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, also shared a message of appreciation.
“She made room for so many of us. She was the reminder that not only can we reach the stars, but our influence is essential to their survival. Forget shaking the table, she built it! #RIPNichelleNichols”
Star Trek: Voyager star Kate Mulgrew shared, “Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again.May she Rest In Peace.”
J.J. Abrams and Alex Kurtzman, who are behind the 2009 film Star Trek and its follow-up Star Trek Into Darkness, tributed Nichols via Twitter.
“A remarkable woman in a remarkable role. Nichelle, you will be deeply missed. Sending much love and respect,” Abrams posted.
Kurtzman wrote, “Nichelle was a singular inspiration. She’s the one who really opened my eyes to what Star Trek is and can be. I can’t tell you how many people have told me she’s the reason they became… an astronaut, a scientist, a writer, a linguist, an engineer… it goes on and on.” We stand in her light and honor her today and every day. Thank you, dear Nichelle, for leading the way.”
President Joe Biden released an official statement via The White House.
|In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.
More tributes can be found below.