The passing of Star Trek icon Nichelle Nichols last weekend prompted a lot of tributes from her colleagues in the franchise, fans, and people around the industry. The late actress was a pioneer, trailblazer, and groundbreaking for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series and her legacy is being celebrated for her long-lasting impact on both television and NASA.
Yesterday, Zoe Saldaña, who played Uhura in the Star Trek Kelvin timeline films, shared on Instagram her emotional tribute to the late actress who she called a "unique artist" and celebrated her legacy as a trailblazer.
"I’m saddened to learn of Nichelle Nichols’ passing. We have lost a true star- a unique artist who was ahead of her time always," Saldaña wrote. "She’s an icon, an activist and most importantly an amazing woman- who blazed a trail that has shown so many how to see women of color in a different light. Her strive for equality was unwavering."
Saldaña also shared the moment when she met Nichols which she calls "very special" and how she made her "feel safe" and told her "to play her with all the confidence in the world."
"Meeting Nichelle was truly a very special moment in my life," the actress continued. "Her energy was infectious every time I was in her presence. She convinced me in believing that anything was achievable, if you put your heart into it. I mean, she inspired Mae Jemison to follow her dreams of becoming an astronaut and that’s exactly what Mae did."
"I knew I had big shoes to fill when I was chosen to play Uhura, and Nichelle made me feel safe, told me to play her with all the confidence in the world. My hope is that we continue to keep her memory alive by celebrating her amazing body of work, and by spreading the message of peace and equality amongst all people. She lived a long, impactful life and not only prospered, but helped so many others prosper too."
The actress concluded, "Maya Angelou once said 'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.' I agree with this statement with the exception of Nichelle Nichols. It’ll be hard to forget what she said and hard to forget what she did, and it will certainly be impossible to forget how she made us feel."
It is great to see Saldaña pay tribute to her predecessor and you can feel in her long caption how much impact she had on her and the efforts that she made to make sure that Uhura was played respectfully just like what Nichols did in the original. It is surely an emotional tribute coming from an actress who had the opportunity to continue the character's legacy.
There is no doubt that a lot of fans and friends of Nichols will miss her as well as make sure that her groundbreaking efforts and legacy will continue in years to come and Uhura will continue to become the symbol that Nichols built 56 years ago.