Nichelle Nichols almost quit after Star Trek's first season

Luckily for Trekkies, Dr. Martin Luther King intervened.

Star Trek is groundbreaking for so many reasons. But chief among those reasons is Nichelle Nichols. Despite the era's norms, Nichols was not only cast on the show but also placed in a prominent position on the Enterprise's bridge. Her character, Lieutenant Uhura, was featured in some of the show's most important stories. As an actress, Nichols brought poise and power to her role. As a person, she brought strength and experience to a show that might've otherwise felt unimportant.

Nichols was a pioneer, but few fans know she intended to leave Star Trek after just one season. Thirty years later, in 1998, Nichols spoke to Doug Nye of Knight Ridder News Service about the decision and what ultimately changed her mind.

"I came out of musical theater and expected to make my name on Broadway," Nichols said.

"Then along came Star Trek. After one season, I told Gene Roddenberry that I was going to leave simply as a career choice.

"Then I happened to go to a NAACP fundraiser and met Dr. Martin Luther King, who said Star Trek was one of the few shows he and Coretta allowed their little children to see. And when I told him I was going to leave the show, he said, 'You can't do that.'"

As the years passed, Nichols never regretted her decision to stay with the show and instead grew to understand just how historic her presence was. 

"Whoopi Goldberg once told me that she looked at our show and said, 'Come quick, come quick! There's a black lady on television, and she ain't no maid.' Whoopi said, 'I knew right then I was going to be anything I wanted to be.'

"I'm very proud of that," Nichols said.

Watch Star Trek on MeTV!

Saturdays at 10 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

8 Comments

Snickers 2 months ago
I think any Star Trek fan has heard this story many times and it's well known to fans of the show.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
Nichols was solid on Star Trek. Glad she stayed on the Enterprise.
cperrynaples Runeshaper 2 months ago
Do you mean "solid" like Linc on The Mod Squad...LOL! You can watch it on MeTV+!
Runeshaper cperrynaples 2 months ago
YES and Thank You!
Pacificsun 2 months ago
All due respect going to the younger generations who (hopefully) are discovering or enjoying the ORIGINAL Star Trek series. Without which there would be no franchise. Original and subsequent fans, down through the decades were so hungry for backstories. There are few people still watching who don't know the most significant stories about the pioneers. This one, is one most often repeated, and doing so during many early era ST Conventions. Some, even people fortunate enough to meet Ms. Nichols in person, ask questions, autographs and mementos. To further her enthusiasm and support, the actress (occasionally) appeared in conjunction with NASA based recruiting benefits as she did in the 70's at the San Jose (Calif.) Convention Center. Where some eventually to be famous Astronauts and Staff also appeared. The Martin Luther King story, one of the most often repeated examples of true inspiration! Thank you, MeTV writers for continuing to keep this tradition, in the minds of viewers.
























Without all the pioneers who made it creative and special, there would be no franchise.
cperrynaples Pacificsun 2 months ago
Yes, I brought it up when Nichelle died! I noticed the huge empty space, you must have pressed the tab key too hard! I'm guilty of that..LOL!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 2 months ago
Bashful Emoji w/ Apologies. However the MeTV Server got stuck and wouldn't go one way or the other. Meaning I couldn't post or delete. In the end, I neglected to clean up my textual mess!!
cperrynaples Pacificsun 2 months ago
Yep, when it's that bad, I usually delete and repost!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?