“Nichelle made me feel, told me to play [Uhura] with all the confidence in the world.”

The actress who played Uhura on Star Trek used her fame to support women and people of color who passed away over the weekend. Nichols remained a part of the Star Trek family after the original show ended, appearing in films and voicing Uhura in the animated series. However, her role, along with everyone else’s, was recast for Abrams’ hugely successful (if still a little divisive) 2009 reboot.

Zoe Saldaña, who played Abrams’ younger Uhura in those sequels, posted on Instagram (via The Hollywood Reporter) about filling Nichols’ shoes. 

There was nothing but praise for Nichelle Nichols. In her Instagram post, Saldaña describes Nichols as making her “feel safe” and that her “energy was infectious.” She also claims Nichols convinced her “anything was achievable, if you put your heart into it,” noting that Nichols also convinced Mae Jemison (the first Black woman in space) to become an astronaut.

She says Nichols told her to play Uhura “with all the confidence in the world,” expressing hope that “we continue to keep her memory alive by celebrating her amazing body of work and by spreading the message of peace and equality amongst all people.” The full statement is available here:

  • I’m saddened to learn of Nichelle Nichols’ passing. We have lost a true star—a unique artist who was ahead of her time always. She’s an icon, an activist, and most importantly, an amazing woman—who blazed a trail that has shown so many how to see women of color in a different light. Her strive for equality was unwavering.
  • Meeting Nichelle was truly a very special moment in my life. Her energy was infectious every time I was in her presence. She convinced me to believe that anything was achievable if you put your heart into it. I mean, she inspired Mae Jemison to follow her dreams of becoming an astronaut, and that’s exactly what Mae did.
  • I knew I had big shoes to fill when I was chosen to play Uhura, and Nichelle made me feel safe, told me to play her with all the confidence in the world. My hope is that we continue to keep her memory alive by celebrating her amazing body of work and by spreading the message of peace and equality amongst all people. She lived a long, impactful life and not only prospered but helped so many others prosper too.
  • Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I agree with this statement, with the exception of Nichelle Nichols. It’ll be hard to forget what she said and hard to forget what she did, and it will certainly be impossible to forget how she made us feel.

Zoe Saldana praises Nichelle Nichols for her groundbreaking role as a star trek actress.