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Nichelle Nichols is an American actress, singer, and voice artist. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Her most famous role is that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series (1966-1969), as well as the succeeding motion pictures, where her character was eventually promoted in Starfleet to the rank of commander. Multiple novel series have stated that she rose to at least Captain.
Nicholls’ Star Trek character, one of the first African American female characters on American television not portrayed as a servant, was groundbreaking in U.S society at the time. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. personally praised her work on the show and asked her to remain when she was considering leaving the series. After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nichols volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the space agency. She began this work by making an affiliation between NASA and a company which she helped to run, Women in Motion.
In the 2002 comedy Snow Dogs, Nichols appeared as the mother of the male lead, played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. Nichols played a recurring role on the second season of the NBC drama Heroes. She voiced the recurring role of Elisa Maza’s mother Diane Maza in the animated series Gargoyles and played Thoth-Kopeira in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series.