Nichelle Nichols was born on December 28th1932, as Grace Nichols in Robbins Illinois. She was discovered by Duke Ellington, a notorious composer and pianist, at the age of 15 and began her career as a singer and got to tour with him and his band. When the tour was through Nichelle worked in Los Angeles as many different things, like; molding, acting and singing. In 1966 she got her big break, as Lieutenant Uhura in the Star Trek series and on that show shared the first interracial kiss on television with William Shatner.
Nichols wanted to leave the series, but then had a very inspiring conversation with a very inspiring man, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told Nichols that she could not leave the show because they were finally portraying an African American as an intelligent, proud, and beautiful person and that someone needed to see that; Nichols ended up staying throughout the end of the movie series.
That role actually sparked a new interest in Nichols, space exploration and research. Nichols became involved in many space programs and was appointed to the National Space Institute. In 1977 NASA actually asked Nichols to be a spokesperson for their recruitment for new astronauts,
especially women and African Americans. Her campaign lasted until the 1980’s; the number of new recruiters was 5 times higher than before. Nichols has also written a series of science fiction
novels and throughout all of her career choices, she continued to sing around the world.
Sources: Katherine Martin, Those Who Dare (New World Library, 2004); www.nss.org/about/bios/Nichols.html