Nichelle Nichols began her professional singing and dancing career in her home town, Chicago, at the tender age of 14. As a teenager she was discovered by the great Duke Ellington, who hired her to choreograph and perform a ballet for one of his musical suites, and finished the tour as his lead singer. When Nichelle was cast by Gene Roddenberry to create Chief Communications Officer Lt. Uhura, fourth in command of the Starship Enterprise, in his legendary TV series Star Trek – in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King – “The first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a black woman in television history.” It was Dr. King who convinced Nichelle to stay on Star Trek when she got an offer to come sing on Broadway, calling her role a vital role model for minorities across America and around the world.
Nichelle was awarded her much deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 9, 1992. Just a few weeks before she became the first African-American to place her handprints and signature in the cement walk at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Using her Star Trek fame to bring good back to the world, Nichelle, at the behest of NASA, led a national campaign to recruit the first women and minorities into the space program. Many of her new recruits were women or members of racial and ethnic minorities, including Guion Bluford (the first African-American astronaut), Sally Ride (the first female American astronaut), and Mae Jamison (the first female African-American astronaut).
Today, Nichelle continues to travel to fan conventions, collaborate on new film projects, and support the charitable causes near and dear to her heart. Nichelle recently flew into the stratosphere on NASA SOFIA to raise awareness for the Planetary Society and the Technology Access Foundation. @NichelleIsUhura www.nichellen