Star Trek DS9’s Nana Visitor On Nichelle Nichols’ Impact: “She Educated Me” – News Today

Star Trek DS9’s Nana Visitor On Nichelle Nichols’ Impact: “She Educated Me”

Star Trek: DS9’s Nana Visitor explained the impact that franchise legend Nichelle Nichols had on her and her performance as Major Kira Nerys.

Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys and Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: DS9 and TOS.

Summary

  • Nichelle Nichols, who originated the role of Lieutenant Uhura, had a tremendous impact on positive Black female representation in television and was a role model for women in STEM during her time with NASA.
  • Nana Visitor, who worked with Nichols on Star Trek, credits her with teaching her the responsibility of being on the show and acting with purpose, love, and respect.
  • Other Star Trek actresses, like Whoopi Goldberg, Celia Rose Gooding, and Sonequa Martin-Green, have also spoken about the profound influence Nichols had on their work and how she paved the way for Black representation in science fiction.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Nana Visitor recently summed up the immense impact that Star Trek: The Original Series cast member Nichelle Nichols had on the franchise. Nichelle Nichols originated the iconic role of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on TOS and returned to play the character again in the TOS film series. Nichols’ influence on positive Black female representation in television cannot be overstated, and outside of Star Trek, she had a huge impact on women in STEM during her time working with NASA on a special project to recruit women and other people of color to work for the organization.

While speaking with Tamia Harper during TrekTalks 3, a series of panels to benefit the Hollywood Food Coalition, Nana Visitor discussed Nichols and what her legacy in and out of the Star Trek timeline means. Nichols passed away in 2022, but Visitor shared her memories of watching Nichols work both on and off-screen. Speaking about how Nichols had impacted her, Visitor went so far as to say that every woman involved with Star Trek owes a debt to Nichols and her work in the franchise. Read Visitor’s quote and watch her full TrekTalks panel at timestamp 6:57:19 below:

“We must speak of Nichelle, because she is the icon from which we all come, I think. She did something else, besides everything for the space program, everything she did on the show. I will say that I learned the responsibility of being on Star Trek by watching her, by watching how she acted. It was with purpose, and it was with complete love and respect. She wasn’t one of these people that got off the stage and went ‘Ugh, I’m so glad that’s over with.’ No. She was 100% there, and was until almost the end, the last time I saw her. Everything else might have been shaky for her, but not her purpose. It was there, and I saw it as she was greeting her audience. She was just a natural educator. She educated me.”

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What Other Star Trek Actresses Have Said About Nichols’ Influence

Visitor is not the only Star Trek actress who has credited Nichols with a massive influence on their work. One of the most famous stories comes from Whoopi Goldberg, who played Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Goldberg begged TNG‘s producers to give her a place on the show, stating that watching Nichols in TOS had been the first time she had seen a hopeful vision of the future for Black women. Watching Uhura serve on the bridge in a powerful position showed Goldberg that someone thought Black people could have a place at the table in science fiction.

Besides Goldberg, modern Star Trek actors like Celia Rose Gooding and Sonequa Martin-Green have spoken about how Nichols’ legacy has impacted their lives. Gooding, who now plays Uhura on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, has spoken multiple times about how she is still benefiting from Nichols’ portrayal of the character. For her part, Martin-Green worked to carry on Nichols’ legacy when she partnered with Million Girls Moonshot to help encourage one million girls to engage in STEM opportunities by 2025. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Nana Visitor is just one in a long line of franchise women that Nichols impacted.

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