Nichelle Nichols helped create Uhura for Star Trek: The Original Series.
To many, Nichelle Nichols is a cultural icon who stretches beyond just her time on Star Trek: The Original Series. She’s a person who many hold in high regard and have the utmost respect for. Somehow, with all she’s accomplished, it’s possible to have even more respect and admiration for her. We didn’t think it was possible either, but yet, here we are. Not only is Nichols a woman who broke boundaries and pushed the limits of a time period, but she was also instrumental in helping create the character she brought to life.
When Nichols went to her audition for Star Trek, she had a book in her hand called Uhuru by Robert Ruark. The book is described as “A vivid and exciting fictional story of the Mau Mau era in Kenya” according to GoodReads and was a book that Nichols had with her on the day of her audition for Star Trek.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the show, saw the book during the audition and was struck by it. Having gone home and read it, he had the idea of naming the character Nichols had auditioned for after the title of the book. When Nichols came back after getting the part, the two talked about the book. Roddenberry wanted to use the title as part of the character’s name, but “Uhuru” was a bit rough on the ear. That’s when Nichols suggested changing the last “u” in the name to an “a” to soften the tone.
Thus “Uhura” was born.
It’s a small contribution to an otherwise endless franchise, but it’s a notable contribution and one that won’t ever truly be forgotten.
Nichelle Nichols has forever left an indelible mark on Star Trek and Uhura
Nichols being a great actress on her own would make her a legend in the annals of Star Trek, but that wasn’t all she brought to the table. As a civil rights activist and a face of change on American broad television, Nichols left a huge mark on not just the Star Trek franchise as a whole, or science fiction but in American history.
So while her helping craft the name Uhura wasn’t the greatest achievement in her career, it does help add to the legacy and legend of a great woman, who brought endless joy to millions of people.