Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series, was going to leave the show after the first season, until Martin Luther King Jr., encouraged her to stay on the show. Born on December 28, 1932, Grace Dell Nichols (Nichelle Nichols) has seen plenty of changes in Hollywood over the past 87 years. Before landing her iconic role as Nyota Uhura on the classic program, she sang with Duke Ellington. At the time that Nichols landed the groundbreaking role, she didn’t realize the impact she would have on black culture and Hollywood. Star Trek premiered in 1966 and roles for black women who were viewed as highly intelligent, capable and beautiful were in the minority. Nichelle explains how a meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., who was also a devout fan of the show, spoke to her and encouraged her not to leave the program.
She listened and played the character for three seasons (1966-1969) and would later recreate the character in 1973 for Star Trek: The Animated Series.
Nichelle didn’t realize at the time just how important her portrayal of Uhura would be in the fight for civil rights as her character helped change stereotypes that were presented on the silver screen concerning black women.
Nichelle shares the story of her encounter with Star Trek fan Martin Luther King Jr., in this video from Emmy TV Legends.
What do you think about Nichelle Nichols story? Were you a fan of the original Star Trek series when it first aired? Are you a fan now? Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr., was a fan of the program and even let his children stay up late to watch the show.
Star Trek: The Original Series is available to watch on several platforms. Keep in mind that these are subject to change. At the current moment, you may watch Star Trek: The Original Series on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and CBS All Access with a subscription.
Are you happy that Martin Luther King Jr., convinced Nichelle Nichols chose to stay on the show?