We got the sad news this weekend that Nichelle Nichols, who played Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series, passed away. Nichols’ Uhura was a groundbreaking character, and one that was an inspiration for many, especially other women of color.
Her role was so influential on TOS that Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her to say on after the first season the show, even though she was planning to quit. King’s daughter, attorney Bernice King, emphasized the impact Nichols’ had in her Trek role.
“Representation matters,” King wrote on Twitter. “Excellence in representation matters even more. Thank you #NichelleNichols. Rest well, ancestor.”
Excellence in representation matters even more.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) July 31, 2022
In addition to playing Uhura, Nichols also worked with NASA to improve recruitment of women and people of color to join the astronaut program. Dr. Mae Jemison, the first woman of color in space, also knew Nichols and shared on Twitter that the actor “is forever for me the embodiment of grace, daring, intelligence, fun, inspiration, beauty, talent & the future.” Jemison also added that she was understandably “heart-sad at her passing” and that she considered her friendship with Nichols to be “a great treasure & privilege in my life.”
@NichelleIsUhura is forever for me the embodiment of grace, daring, intelligence, fun, inspiration, beauty, talent & the future.
Today I am heart-sad at her passing.
I consider our dearest friendship a great treasure & privilege in my life. pic.twitter.com/1U1PpWSryy
— Dr. Mae Jemison (@maejemison) July 31, 2022
Within the world of Trek, Leonard Nimoy’s son, Adam Nimoy, also shared a lovely photo of her and his dad on set:
My favorite photo of Dad and Nichelle Nichols on set. The importance of Nichelle's legacy cannot be over-emphasized. She was much loved and will be missed. pic.twitter.com/1zlTd4F9BD
— Adam Nimoy (@adam_nimoy) July 31, 2022
Nichols TOS surviving co-stars also shared their remembrances of her. “She was a beautiful woman & played an admirable character that did so much for redefining social issues both here in the US & throughout the world,” said William Shatner (a.k.a. James T. Kirk) via Twitter.
George Takei, who played Sulu on TOS, also shared his regret at Nichols’ passing. “My heart is heavy,” he wrote. “my eyes shining like the stars you now rest among, my dearest friend.”
We lived long and prospered together. pic.twitter.com/MgLjOeZ98X
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) July 31, 2022
Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter, also expressed her appreciation for Nichols’ impact. “Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation,” she wrote on Twitter. “Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you.”
Many actors become stars, but few stars can move a nation. Nichelle Nichols showed us the extraordinary power of Black women and paved the way for a better future for all women in media. Thank you, Nichelle. We will miss you. pic.twitter.com/KhUf4YM6pX
— Lynda Carter (@RealLyndaCarter) July 31, 2022
See below for additional Twitter tributes to Nichols.
Heartbroken at the news of her passing, however, I am comforted in the knowledge that she illuminated the way for so of us many with her grace, beauty, talent, intelligence and her commitment to humanity going boldly to the stars! #godess #queen
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) July 31, 2022
RIP @NichelleIsUhura. You led the way and opened the door for the rest of us who followed in your wake. We will be forever grateful. My heart is broken💔😢
— Marina Sirtis (@Marina_Sirtis) July 31, 2022
Today we remember Nichelle Nichols. She starred as Lieutenant Uhura on "Star Trek" wearing this uniform now in our @NMAAHC, making history for African American women in TV and film. Nichols also volunteered to recruit women and people of color for NASA. #BecauseOfHerStory pic.twitter.com/fZZqfGlomz
— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) July 31, 2022
#NichelleNichols thank you, for igniting the flame of a beautiful journey. For myself, and millions of others on our world. We’ll miss you.
— Olatunde Osunsanmi (@CenterWillHold) July 31, 2022
Nichelle Nichols was an icon of representation who will always be special to my family. My mom (here helping her try on an astronaut helmet) gave her a NASA tour in the ’70s. Decades later at a Star Trek reunion, she recognized my mom and ran up to hug her. Rest well, kind soul. pic.twitter.com/aYv8vleGCv
— 🇺🇦 David Griner 🇺🇦 (@griner) August 1, 2022
We stand in her light and honor her today and every day. Thank you, dear Nichelle, for leading the way. 2/2
— Alex Kurtzman (@Alex_Kurtzman) July 31, 2022
Before we understood how much #RepresentationMatters #NichelleNichols modeled it for us. With her very presence & her grace she shone a light on who we as people of color are & inspired us to reach for our potential. Rest well glittering diamond in the sky https://t.co/DmeLFbg825
— Wilson Cruz (@wcruz73) July 31, 2022
— Tawny “My Name is Tawny” Newsome (@TrondyNewman) July 31, 2022
Nichelle Nichols was The First. She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again.
— Kate Mulgrew (@TheKateMulgrew) July 31, 2022
She made room for so many of us. 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! #RIPNichelleNichols 🕊✨🖖🏾 pic.twitter.com/k1aVw15w3d
— ALIEN SUPERSTAR CRG (@celiargooding) July 31, 2022
Two of the best days of my life were the days in 2017 I spent with Nichelle Nichols. She told me stories and made "pew pew" sounds when I would sit next to her with my phaser. She inspired me to do what I do now. I'm always be grateful for her beautiful legacy. Rest well. pic.twitter.com/9lbY7V1cvP
— Krystina Arielle 🦖 (@KrystinaArielle) July 31, 2022
I got to meet #NichelleNichols in 2015 and it is one of my most treasured memories. Her eyes lit up when she saw me. She was infinitely kind and gentle. She inspired me to do what I do.
I am wordless with grief. Rest well among the stars. pic.twitter.com/PT0Bx1ZZfZ
— Noor (obi wan suffering) (@nimblenoor) July 31, 2022
— Big Gold Belt Media 🔜 #C2E2 (@BigGoldBelt) August 1, 2022
I don’t remember what I asked her but I remember how I felt as she walked to the corner of the stage to answer my question. I took this blurry picture with my shaking hands. I was in awe of her. She was magnificent. #nichellenichols pic.twitter.com/ySIZLztzXR
— Trekkie Girls (@TrekkieGirls) July 31, 2022