“And Uhura, whose name means freedom. She walks in beauty, like the night.“
– Ambassador Kollos, 2268
Any fan of the original Star Trek series knows Lieutenant Uhura: the communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise, and the coldest figure cut in a red dress. Uhura was the only woman on the central command deck, and it only takes one episode to realize she’s not merely a prop. In space, Uhura runs the show. As one of the few bridge officers, she mans the helm, navigation, and main science station. As head of communications, she’s fluent in a wide variety of languages and prolific in mathematics. An invaluable member of this interspace boy’s club, she was also frequently recruited for ground missions on alien planets. She led with a clear intelligence, a sure will, and an unabashed sensuality.
As the first black woman on TV in a major role, Uhura inspired a new generation for entertainment. After seeing her performance on Star Trek, Whoopi Goldberg ran screaming to her mother that there was a black woman on TV and she “ain’t no maid.” Exposure to this role lead directly to Whoopi’s decision to join the industry. MLK Jr. was a major Trekkie. Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space was inspired to join NASA after watching Lieutenant Uhura as a child.
Nichelle Nichols as the inspired Lieutenant did not just exist on the show to satisfy some minority requirement: she pushed plots, and was half of one of the very first interracial kisses on television. She was smart, wore short skirts, and proved the captain wrong whenever the opportunity arose.
She is, in short, our heroin–boldly going where no woman has gone before.
Photographer: Taylor Hall
Model, HMUA: Maiya Evans
Stylists: Erin Kuykendall, Clarence Yuan
Assistants: Lalo Lopez, Melina Perez
Clothing by Revival Vintage