Nichelle Nichols optimistic about 'actors and actresses leading the charge' for Star Trek's future

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Dec 28, 2017, 4:07 PM EST

As she turns 85 years old today (December 28), Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols is feeling good about the franchise in which she played such an important part for decades.

Some 51 years after she first appeared as Communications Officer Nyota Uhura on Gene Roddenberry's original Star Trek, Nichols is the grande dame of the Trek franchise. Her groundbreaking role on the show — a woman of color in a command position on a ship of any kind was all but unheard of in 1966 — was an early signpost for diversity and inclusion, while helping to pave the way for untold numbers of actors who followed in her path.

Many of those — from LeVar Burton to Avery Brooks to Zoe Saldana to Sonequa Martin-Green — have ended up in significant roles themselves in the various Star Trek shows and movies that have prospered in the years since Nichols first made her mark. With the franchise getting a new lease on life thanks to Star Trek: Discovery and a possible new movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, Nichols was asked by the Los Angeles Times where she saw Trek going:

"I think Star Trek is always going to be a window into what lies ahead of us. I'm happy to see another generation of actors and actresses leading the charge. And now there are so many fans being a part of it. If it weren't for the fans, there'd be nothing to do."

Nichols herself remains active to this day, starring in a Star Trek parody called Unbelievable!!!!! with some 40 other former Trek cast members and also appearing in an upcoming faith-based family drama called Noah's Room. Her love for her work was evident when asked what she wanted for her 85th birthday: "All I want for my birthday is my two front teeth. Well, I have all my teeth...I just want to keep on keeping on. I love what I do."

Please join SYFY WIRE in wishing Ms. Nichols a wonderful birthday.