Nichelle Nichols played Lt Uhura in the original Star Trek series

16 June 2013

Original Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols has revealed she advised Zoe Saldana on taking on her character in the latest films.

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Nichelle found fame in 1966 when she was cast as Lt Uhura in the original Star Trek television series, and Zoe plays the character in the new films.

The 80-year-old actress said: “Do you know, she called me when she was taking the role and asked if she could come and meet me. We became great friends, but beforehand, she was so nervous, and I was like, no, get outta here! I said, ‘You go girl!’ She’s wonderful; she’s beautiful in that role, but she was so nervous about playing Uhura. I told her, ‘You’re playing Uhura, do whatever you need to do’.”

Nichelle played the character in both the TV series and in movies, and admitted she didn’t realise how groundbreaking Uhura would be.

She told how she was stunned when she discovered Martin Luther King was a fan – and he asked her to stay with the show.

 

“He didn’t persuade me, he ordered me!” she said. “I was so excited to meet Dr Martin Luther King. I was at an event, a big dinner thing. I was one of the guest stars there, and someone came over and said, ‘Miss Nichols, there’s someone who wants to meet you so badly.’

“Well, I’d been meeting people for about an hour, ever since I got there, so I said ‘OK, fine, who is it?’ I thought he was talking about a Star Trek fan, but I turned, and about 10 or 12ft away from me, there was this man, my leader – his name was Dr Martin Luther King, and my mouth just dropped open. He walks up to me, says, ‘Yes, I am that avid fan!’.”

The actress added: “It was a very new venture for me. I was just amazed and so proud to be a part of it.”

:: Star Trek – The Original Series is on CBS Action, Mon-Friday at 6pm.

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