MLK convinced Nichelle Nichols to stay on Star Trek

LATE actress Nichelle Nichols was once set to drop her role as Lt. Uhura in the star trek franchise. But thanks to the advice of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Nichols decided to continue playing the role of the iconic character.

In a 2011 interview with US National Public Radio (NPR), Nichols explained that she lost interest in her character once the first season ended in 1967. Despite being one of the few black actresses on TV at the time, Nichols thought Uhura didn’t align with her.

“I grew up in musical theatre. For me, the highlight and quintessence of my life as a singer, actor and dancer/choreographer was performing on Broadway,” said Nichols, who died at 89 on 30 July.

She added, “I went to tell Gene Roddenberry I was leaving after the first season and he was very upset about it.” However, he told her to “take the weekend off and think about what I’m trying to achieve here on this show.”

Roddenberry said in later interviews it was because Nichols was “an integral part” of the show. And that very weekend, Nichols bumped into Reverend King at a fundraiser.

King, who was a “hiker”, also persuaded her to stay at star trek when she told him of her intention to quit. Nichols remembers King saying to him, “Don’t you understand what this man (Roddenberry) has accomplished? For the first time, we are seen around the world as we should be seen.

“Do you understand that this is the only show my wife Coretta and I will allow our grandchildren to stand and watch?”

After careful consideration, she agreed to stay on and has since inspired generations of black viewers and women with her role. One of them was Zoe Saldana, who later portrayed Uhura in JJ Abrams’ adaptation. The actress hailed Nichols as an icon who paved the way for many women of color.