See Nichelle Nichols in rare Uhura footage just released by The Smithsonian

By Dan Lawrence | Released

Nichelle Nichols, who sadly passed away on July 31 at the age of 89, was a trailblazer. Her breakout role as Lt. Uhura in the original series of star trek paved the way for the representation of people of color on American television and empowered women to travel into space. Now, Movieweb is reporting that the Smithsonian Museum has released footage to show just how profound Nichols’ impact was on television and culture at large What’s in it for me? It is a short film produced by Nichols’ company Women in Motion for the National Air and Space Museum, footage can be seen below.

In the footage, Nichelle Nichols appears as her iconic character, Lt. Uhura and is beamed back in time to the Smithsonian, where she meets a young girl who shows her around the museum. At the end of the footage, the young girl asks Uhura if she can ever follow in the footsteps of the Liutenenat as a woman in space. Nichols’ Uhura responds by singing an inspirational song to the young girl before asking Scotty to beam her back aboard the USS Enterprise.

Gene Roddenberrys star trek Season 1 is iconic for a number of reasons, one of which is the diversity among the cast. Nichelle Nichols became the first black woman to land a recurring role in an American television series when she played Lt. Uhura was cast, and was also part of American television’s first interracial kiss.

But its impact extended beyond television, as evidenced by the Smithsonian footage above. In the late 1970s, Nichols encouraged NASA to focus on hiring more women for its program, and the agency partnered with Nichols’ Women in Motion Inc. to work on a women’s recruitment campaign. The impact of Nichols’ time working with NASA was profound, and Florida Today reported that the net result was 8,000 applicants. Among them were Sally Ride, who became the first American woman to go into space, and Guion Bluford, America’s first black astronaut.

Perhaps the most profound part of Nichelle Nichols’ legacy is how she helped inspire the first African American woman to travel into space. According to Slashfilm, Mae Jemison, the astronaut who made the historic journey, credits Nichelle Nichols as her inspiration for an astronaut career. In a beautiful twist of fate, both Jemison and Star Trek Destinies intertwined when the former made a brief cameo appearance on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Remarkably, Jemison was the first astronaut to appear on a Star Trek show.

The legacy Nichelle Nichols left, which is evident through her Smithsonian commercial, her campaign to get women into NASA and inspire the next generation of female astronauts, only goes to show how important representation is on television. For the casual observer, star trek appears to be just a show that sci-fi fans adored and epitomized the genre, but thanks to cast members like Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura is so much more than that.

Leave a Comment