Nichelle Nichols, the lead star of Star Trek who died Saturday at the age of 89, was an archetype of unbroken professionalism like Lieutenant Uhura, and she never broke when she ran the communications office at Starship Enterprise.
But for Nicholas Meyer, director and screenwriter of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,” Nichols’ favorite on-screen memory is rare moment Where it is better to speak. In Episode VI, our heroes try to infiltrate Klingon’s airspace without using a universal translator, which would abandon them. This leaves Uhura and the rest of the crew browsing through Klingon dictionaries in a desperate attempt to postpone a conversation with another ship’s crew.
“Nichelle appears only in Klingon’s scariest [dialect]Her face looks really sore and at one point someone makes a joke at the Klingon,” Meyer recalls. “She doesn’t understand, but she knows she’s supposed to find it amusing, so she laughs this heartily and then suddenly hangs up. It was just amazing.”
Nichols broke barriers as one of the first black women to have a major role on network television. Nichols has understood the impact this type of representation has on audiences and has used her celebrities to increase opportunities for others by working with NASA to recruit diverse astronauts.
Meyer, who spoke with diverse Following news of Nichols’ death, she sees parallels between her work and that of Bill Russell, the NBA legend and civil rights advocate, who died on Sunday.
My experience writing and directing Cannes was chaotic in many ways. This was the second movie I’ve ever directed, and I was relatively unfamiliar with the entire “Star Trek” world. What I thought was great, not just about Nichelle, but about the entire staff, was how professional and kind they were in welcoming the newcomer into this world and teaching me how it works and how they worked together.
When “Star Trek” was a TV series, they were used to the idea of having different directors, different writers coming in for different episodes, so they were professionally experienced. They have just been amazingly helpful to me. It was amazingly useful. I was also writing the script and she was saying things like, “That’s not exactly how Aura expresses herself here.” She would give me her copy, then I would modify it.
Nichelle told me to keep in mind that Uhura’s professionalism goes beyond her gender. This is a trained officer who does not bother. She said, “If you listen to the communications officers at NASA, all hell can break out, but they never betray that in the way they talk. They stay calm.”
As for Nichelle, she was always professional and fast. She knew her lines and was not shy about making contributions. I remember she lectured me about Cannes’ Fury and said, “Look, you save my close-ups until the end of the day. This is not the best time to photograph an actress.” what did you know? So we go back to the scene first thing in the morning.
Nichelle was so multi-talented by Leonard Bernstein. Everything I touched was good in it. She can dance. She can sing. She can act. She was a natural narrator and was also fearlessly vocal about the things she thought were important, whether those things were important in the scene or cultural and political issues.
I think the meeting with Dr. King When asked to stay on the showBecause it was important to so many black viewers, it really opened a window for her and shed light on what she was doing in ways she hadn’t thought before. But once I showed her the good she could reap from being in “Star Trek,” she ran with that more or less for the rest of her life. She worked a lot with NASA and she knew exactly what she was doing and was great at helping recruit for them.
When we worked together on “Star Trek VI,” it was a bittersweet experience because it was going to be the original cast’s last movie, and they knew it. But it didn’t really affect anything until we shot the final scene for the movie, which was on the last day of shooting. He was psychologically included in the schedule that day. Well, no one was happy. It was: “I don’t like this line or I don’t like this line. Can we try again?” It wasn’t just Nichelle. Everyone had contradictory feelings. These people have interacted with each other for decades and had to make peace with the hand that fate dealt with them. The success of the show and movies has paid for the homes and children’s arches, but it has also tied them together forever. They had complicated feelings for each other and other jobs they might have wanted to do, but had to turn down or not be considered. They were family. They did not always agree. It can be as divided as families tend to be. But now it’s time to say goodbye, and saying goodbye is usually more difficult than anyone expects. There was a wrap party afterwards and those are usually unmistakable festivities. This was very complicated. Nobody knows what he must feel. It was something between a wedding and a wake up.
When you say that someone or something is great, you are actually referring to some kind of uniqueness or specialty. God damn, if the greats were so popular, we wouldn’t get too excited about her when she showed her face. Think of Bill Russell, whose memory we now commemorate. It’s the same. We’re talking grandeur and incomparable grandeur, just like Nichelle. Both Nichelle and Bill Russell were pioneers. They pioneered the most dreadful adversities, which we like to tell ourselves are a thing of the past, but we know it isn’t.
I’ve met two types of people in my life – people who have benefited from their experiences and people who are bitter because of them. Well, Nichelle was never so bitter about what she had to deal with. She was magnified by her trials and tribulations.
As told to Brent Lang.