2. Uhura – Nichelle Nichols/Celia Rose Gooding
Urura’s presence on the Enterprise bridge was so significant for society at large that it’s easy to forget that her presence wasn’t that significant to the show. Uhura was a dedicated, competent, and professional bridge officer, but as the communications officer, her job was that of a space-age switchboard operator.
There was a scene in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, in which the crew, including Uhura, frantically flick through Klingon phrasebooks while trying to bluff their way into Klingon Space to rescue Kirk and McCoy from the Klingon penal colony at Rura Penthe. According to Nichelle Nichols’ autobiography, Becoming Uhura, the scene originally had Uhura personally bluffing the Klingons with her knowledge of Klingonese, but director Nicholas Meyer felt the scene needed humor. It ends with Uhura telling the Klingon ship “We am thy freighter…Ursva… Six weeks out of…Kronos…. We is condemning food…things and supplies…,” while the Klingons laugh at her.
The retconning of Uhura started, of all places, with Star Trek: Enterprise, which established that the communications officer is a language and communications expert. By the time it came to Zoe Saldana in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot, it just seemed natural that Uhura’s job would involve more than announcing that hailing frequencies are open.
So, in terms of her role on the show, SNW’s Uhura is quite different from the original. What puts her so high on this list is that Celia Rose Gooding really feels like they’re channeling Nichelle Nichols which makes that retcon all the more significant, as it feels like we’re seeing another side to Uhura, rather than a different interpretation.