Zoe Saldaña shares how Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols helped her play Uhura. Nichols first introduced the character of Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966. The show only ran for 3 seasons before being cancelled in 1969, but despite this, The Original Series led to the creation of the now-massive Star Trek franchise. With 12 TV shows, 13 films, books, games, and comics, Star Trek has an estimated $10.6 billion revenue, making it one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time.

Nichols’ character, Nyota Uhura, appeared in all 3 seasons of The Original Series, as well as six Star Trek films. Her appearance on the show was groundbreaking, as she was one of the few prominent Black characters on television at the time. It wasn’t until 2009, 18 years after Nichols’ last appearance in the Star Trek franchise, that fans would see Uhura onscreen again. The 2009 reboot film Star Trek saw Saldaña stepping into the role of Uhura alongside Chris Pine’s Captain Kirk, and Zachary Quinto’s Spock. Saldaña has so far appeared in three films as Uhura, though a fourth has been in the works for some time. Now, following the news of Nichols’ death, Saldaña is taking time to honor her predecessor.

Related: Strange New Worlds’ Spock & Uhura Just Passed Their Toughest Test

In an Instagram post commemorating Nichols, who passed away at age 89 on July 30, Saldaña shares how Nichols helped her play Uhura. Alongside a series of pictures of Nichols, including two of Nichols and Saldaña together, Saldaña writes that Nichols told her to play Uhura “with all the confidence in the world.” She also shares how important Nichols was as an activist, saying that she was “an amazing woman- who blazed a trail that has shown so many how to see women of color in a different light.” Read Saldana’s full, heartwarming tribute below:

View the original post here.

Though there was hesitation from long-time Star Trek fans leading up to the reboot series, as they were worried that the new cast wouldn’t live up to the expectations set by The Original Series‘ stars, the films have since been praised for their casting choices. While each actor brings something different to their individual iterations of their respective Star Trek characters, Saldaña said that Nichols made her feel “safe” stepping into the role of Uhura, and that confidence is clear in her performance. It seems that Nichols’ blessing and kind words really helped Saldaña feel that the part could be hers, even as she found ways to honor Nichols.

With a younger version of Uhura (played by Celia Rose Gooding) now a major player on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Nichols’ legacy as Uhura continues to vibrantly live on. Every actor that has played Uhura since Nichols has praised Nichols for her momentous work on The Original Series, and for how much progress she made for Black women in television and elsewhere. Though Nichols has passed, her remarkable and powerful legacy will forever be remembered, especially with Saldaña and Gooding continuing to carry the Star Trek torch.

Next: Star Trek 4 Delays Killed The Franchise’s Best Momentum

Source: Zoe Saldaña/Instagram

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Author: Sarah Laudenbach