Nichelle Nichols as Nyota Uhura
Last week, Nichelle Nichols hopped on Reddit for one of the website's popular Ask Me Anything sessions. The pioneering actress who portrayed Uhura, the cool communications officer of the USS Enterprise
, revealed that she is set to fly on an real NASA mission. She is 82. Nichols will just reach the upper stratosphere, not the final frontier, aboard the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy) aircraft, a 747 hauling a large telescope.
"SOFIA does not, sadly, fly into space," Nichols explained to fans in the online Q&A. "It's an airborne observatory, a massive telescope mounted inside a 747 flying as high as is possible… I do hope someone gets some great pictures." No doubt she will. The flight is slated for September.
In the interview, Nichols also shared a fascinating anecdote regarding Martin Luther King, Jr., a Trekkie who convinced her to stay on
Star Trek in the late '60s. Here are her words:
"I was offered a role on Broadway. I was a singer on stage long before I was an actress, and Broadway was always a dream to me. I was ready to leave Star Trek and pursue what I'd always wanted to do.
Dr. Martin Luther King, quite some time after I'd first met him, approached me and said something along the lines of 'Nichelle, whether you like it or not, you have become an symbol. If you leave, they can replace you with a blonde haired white girl, and it will be like you were never there. What you've accomplished, for all of us, will only be real if you stay.' That got me thinking about how it would look for fans of color around the country if they saw me leave. I saw that this was bigger than just me.
I got to do a lot of singing after the series ended."