Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols has passed away at age 89.
The groundbreaking actress played Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series from 1966 to 1969, reports The Sun.
In an Instagram post on Sunday, Kyle Johnson, Nichelle’s son, said: “Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light from her however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from and draw inspiration. ”
Her acting career lasted for over 40 years. She made great strides in the representation of women of color in not only television but in outer space.
Nichols was awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal in 2021 for inspiring and recruiting diverse communities to join its space programs.
In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Nichols recalled a life-changing moment with a fan.
The actress was about to quit star trek after the first season because she was offered a role in a play and dreamt of being on Broadway.
She even handed in her letter of resignation to the creator of star trek Gene Roddenberry – which he rejected, telling her to think about it for a few more days.
Then a fan, Dr Martin King Jr, said to her: “You cannot, you cannot. Don’t you understand what [Roddenberry] have you achieved?
“For the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day – as intelligent, quality, beautiful people who can sing and dance and who can go into space.
“Who can be lawyers, who can be teachers, who can be professors, who we are in this day and yet you don’t see it on television until now,” he said.
“Gene Roddenberry has opened a door for the world to see us.
“If you leave, that door can be closed because you see your role is not a black role and it’s not a female role. He can fill it with anything including an alien.”
Dr King persuaded her to stay on the show and continue to be a role model.
Her son’s statement continued: “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.
“I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further.
“Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.”
He concluded by saying: “Live Long and Prosper.”
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission