Nichelle Nichols On Having First Major Black Female TV Role And That First Interracial Kiss On ‘Star Trek
Nichols vividly recalls how America reacted when her Uhura character first hit the television airwaves.
"Oh, man, there were parts of the South that wouldn’t show ‘Star Trek’ because this was an African American woman in a powerful position, and she wasn’t a maid or tap dancer."
While shooting “Star Trek” episodes in the late 1960s, Nichols didn’t feel any discrimination on the set, but felt it in other parts of the studio, especially where she wasn’t allowed to enter the studio through a particular gate where the other actors could go through.
"That’s right. There were instances where I was turned away from entering the studio at the walk-on gate, and I had to go all the way around to the front gate, sign-in and come back. A guard on the set told me I had no right being there — that they had replaced a blue-eyed blonde with me," she remembered.
"I went through crap, man. Racism was alive and rampant there. Some people said I wasn’t good enough, saying things like, ‘I don’t know how you got this role.’ And they kept waiting for me to complain and raise hell about it, but I decided to ignore it. I never went to Gene [Roddenberry] about it."
She even said that the show photographer was a racist. “There are more pictures of me behind somebody where you can barely see me, but they also had to take pictures of me singularly.”