Nichelle Nichols, the trailblazing actress best known for playing Nyota Uhura on Star Trek, died over the weekend at the age of 89. Tributes from all across the globe came pouring in, from every corner of Hollywood, to the offices of NASA, and all the way to the White House. Zoe Saldana, who played the role of Uhura in the 2009 reboot, paid tribute to Nichelle Nichols on Instagram, praising the actress not just for her importance in TV history and representation but for personally making her feel safe taking over her role.
I’m saddened to learn of Nichelle Nichols’ passing. We have lost a true star- a unique artist who was ahead of her time always. 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.
Zoe Saldana 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.” When Zoe Saldana was cast to play Uhura in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot, she knew she had some big shoes to fill, but the actress said that “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.” Saldana closed by referring to a quote by Maya Angelou.
Maya Angelou once said “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. I agree with this statement with the exception of Nichelle Nichols. It’ll be hard to forget what she said and hard to forget what she did, and it will certainly be impossible to forget how she made us feel. REST IN POWER QUEEN NICHELLE.
Zoe Saldana reprised the role of Uhura for Star Trek Into Darkness and Star Trek Beyond and is expected to do so again for the untitled Star Trek 4. Zoe Saldana isn’t the only Uhura actress to pay tribute to Nichelle Nichols. Celia Rose Gooding plays the role on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. “She made room for so many of us,” Gooding wrote on Twitter. “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!“
Originally published at www.joblo.com