Live long and prosper, and Nichelle Nichols did just that.
Zoe Saldaña opened up about taking on the legacy of “Star Trek” icon Nichols’ character, Nyota Uhura.
Saldaña penned a tribute to original “Star Trek” TV series star Nichols, who died on Saturday at age 89. Nichols’ Uhura was one half of TV’s first interracial kiss with Captain Kirk (William Shatner) in 1968 and “blazed a trail” for all actors of color after her, as Saldaña wrote.
While Nichols’ fellow “Star Trek” alums George Takei and LeVar Burton have shared tributes, Saldaña’s post spoke to the actress’ legacy in personal terms, as Saldaña played Uhura in J.J. Abrams’ films, set in a parallel universe, starting in 2009.
“We have lost a true star, a unique artist who was ahead of her time always,” Saldaña shared. “She’s an icon, an activist and most importantly an amazing woman, who blazed a trail that has shown so many how to see women of color in a different light. Her strive for equality was unwavering.”
She continued, “Meeting Nichelle was truly a very special moment in my life. Her energy was infectious every time I was in her presence. She convinced me in believing that anything was achievable, if you put your heart into it. I mean, she inspired Mae Jemison to follow her dreams of becoming an astronaut and that’s exactly what Mae did.”
The “Guardians of the Galaxy” actress added, “I knew I had big shoes to fill when I was chosen to play Uhura, and Nichelle made me feel safe, told me to play her with all the confidence in the world. My hope is that we continue to keep her memory alive by celebrating her amazing body of work, and by spreading the message of peace and equality amongst all people. She lived a long, impactful life and not only prospered, but helped so many others prosper too.”
“Star Trek” director Abrams also called Nichols a “remarkable woman,” and Saldaña’s co-star John Cho added, “Nichelle Nichols was a huge part of why Star Trek mattered so much to me. My thanks to her, my condolences to her loved ones.”
A fourth “Star Trek” film in the Abrams-launched universe is eyeing a December 22, 2023, theatrical release, with “WandaVision” director Matt Shakman attached.
Nichelle Nichols was a huge part of why Star Trek mattered so much to me. My thanks to her, my condolences to her loved ones. ??
— John Cho (@JohnTheCho) August 1, 2022