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Nichelle Nichols, one of the stars of the original Star trek series and a pioneer in recruiting women and minorities for the U.S. space program, made her final convention appearance in front of her many fans as part of a three-day farewell celebration at LA Comic-Con this weekend. end.
Best known for playing the role of Communications Officer Nyota Uhura aboard the Enterprise spacecraft, the iconic actress, singer and dancer – who turns 89 on December 28 – signed autographs, posed for photos and attended to an early birthday celebration, where she briefly but happily tossed it. heels and danced. Nichols was also the subject of tribute signs throughout the convention, although she made no public statements.
An active figure in the stage, television and music since the early 1960s, Nichols’ public and professional life has been slowed down since she was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, and she has also been at the center of a guardianship battle. However, she was all smiles during her numerous appearances on her LA Comic-Con retirement tour. Nichols was seen waving, blowing kisses and flashing Star trekCelebrate Vulcan hello to the many fans who came to bid him farewell.
The actress, who spoke privately with various people close to her, was surrounded by longtime family and friends, including Nichols’ son Kyle Johnson, who served as her spokesperson; her younger sister Marian Michaels; actresses Judy Pace and Beverly Todd; and former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, who joined NASA due to Nichols’ role in recruiting women and minorities into the space program in the 1970s and 1980s following his Star trek Fame.
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In an emotional moment during Nichols’ farewell panel on Sunday, NASA astronaut appearance specialist Denise Young – who said she too was inspired to pursue a career at the agency due to inspiration provided by Nichols. Star trek role – awarded the actress the prestigious NASA Public Medal of Excellence from the Space Agency for her four decades of activism in diversifying the ranks of NASA. During the panel, Nichols rose from her wheelchair to accept the award as the audience gave her a standing ovation.
“A life well lived is reward enough, every day, and my mother certainly had a life well lived in many ways,” her son Johnson told the audience. “It’s an exceptional recognition, and of course I’m very proud of her for everything she has done, and for the value and meaning of her work. Not just as an actress, but a very real and important that she inspired and made people understand. “
In a tribute video, Star Trek: Discovery actress Sonequa Martin-Green spoke about the debt she owed to Nichols, who in her Star trek role was one of the very first black actors to appear in a regular television role with a highly skilled profession. Nichols also shared the first interracial kiss on camera with costar William Shatner and his very presence on the show signaled to viewers, watching during the height of civil rights disputes of the 1960s, that black people had a place of equality. in the future.
Martin-Green, who plays the sci-fi franchise’s first Black Starship Captain in a leading role, recalls meeting Nichols at the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery. “I remember the big ball of nervousness that was in my stomach as I approached her, but she whispered in my ear so gently that she said ‘Take care of yourself. C ‘is yours now,’ “recalls 36-year-old Martin-Green.
“And I melted. And I needed this. I needed this blessing. She made me feel welcome. She made me feel justified and she made me feel right. ‘have power,’ said Martin-Green, who also recounted the now famous incident in which Nichols planned to leave Star trek and return to his main love of the stage, Broadway. That all changed when Nichols had a chance meeting at a party with the civil rights leader – and Star trek fan – Dr Martin Luther King, who convinced the actress to stay in the role of Uhura due to what her portrayal on the series meant to viewers.
“Nichelle’s legacy can best be described as that of a sacrificial and heroic contribution,” said Martin-Green. “She decided to stay and ultimately devoted herself entirely to the advancement of black people, people of color and women. And she gave her all. She gave her time, her energy. She gave her intelligence, her wisdom. , her leadership and her heart for the betterment of the world and the future.I am here only because of her.
Martin-Green continued, “I also owe it to Nichelle to continue her legacy of heroism through sacrifice. And that’s what she taught me. This is how her words resonated in my heart these last. time is to make that choice to move forward away from self-interest and instead devote yourself to the interests of others. “
Others who honored Nichols virtually were Rod Roddenberry, son of Star trek creator Gene Roddenberry; retired US Ambassador and current Head of Diversity and Inclusion at the US Department of State Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley; and current and former NASA directors, Senator Bill Nelson and General Charles Bolden.
“It’s really amazing how many different ways people are affected [by her]”said Dr Jemison, who met Nichols early in his NASA career and then opened all of his communications live with Nichols signing. Star trek dialogue: “open call frequencies”.
“One of the things you’ve heard everyone say when they talk about meeting and spending time around Miss Nichelle Nichols is warmth and generosity. And you feel like you know her, because it is also real, not only relatable, but also important and sensitive in our lives, ”she shared.
“She said, ‘Life is what the universe gave you for free when you were born. But style is what you make of it,'” Jemison added.
Several of Nichols’ relatives gathered for a special panel on Friday sharing behind-the-scenes stories and details about the actress, known to her family as “Aunt Chellie-Mom.” Although guardianship issues and Nichols’ current health were not directly addressed, the panel appeared to signal unspoken family support for his son Johnson and his handling of his mother’s affairs.
Telling how Nichols raised her largely before her Star trek Celebrity, Johnson praised the way his mother, with help from her family, has taken on the role of mother, star, activist and, for him, role model.
“I will just say that I am the child my mother raised, and I will be forever grateful for the way she played this role of mother,” Johnson said. “I can’t imagine anyone could have done a better job. And it’s not because I brag about myself. It’s because of my deep appreciation for his sensitivity, support, encouragement and her example as a mother. “
In the end, the farewell convention gave Nichols one last chance to connect with the fandom that has kept her in the public eye for more than 50 years, family members agreed. “The point is, her fans are the world for her,” Nichols’s sister Marian said during the family panel. “She wouldn’t be who she is without your fans, and she knows that. And she loves fans. She really, really loves you.”