Nichelle Nichols will forever be known to millions of "Star Trek" fans as communications officer Lt. Uhura in the popular TV series (and movies that followed). She's had a stage, TV and film career that's spanned sixty-plus years. She's also an accomplished singer. Nichols will be in Sacramento for this weekend's Wizard World Comic Convention. Below is the conversation we had via e-mail.
Can you believe that we're still talking about Star Trek 50 years after you filmed that first episode?
"We all knew, all the actors and the producers, probably even the janitors, that Gene was on to something big and different before the first episode even aired. That's why we were so eager to sign up."
You've said music is a very important part of your life. You've released a couple of albums, you often sing at conventions and have said you'll always hear music playing in the background in your house. If your acting career had never taken off, would you have pursued a career in music?
"Acting and singing go hand in hand with me, if I'm doing one I'm doing the other. Whether it is live shows around Los Angeles, or my new single that came out last year, it's a passion that I never let fall to the wayside."
You once said “As a little girl growing up in Chicago, I always knew I was going to be famous." How did you know?
"That was who I was from day one. My parents knew it, I knew it, we all knew it. I just had a passion to perform."
There have been so many books and conversations about what went on behind the scenes during the three seasons of "Star Trek," and a lot of it surrounds the...how can I put this....acrimonious relationships between some of the actors. Can you settle this once and for all, are the stories surrounding William Shatner and how he didn't necessarily get on with everyone in the cast true or just "trek" lore?
"I would never say a bad word about Bill."
What was your favorite "Star Trek" memory?
"I loved any time that Uhura got to go down to the planet. Those were the best episodes, lots of fun to shoot and spend time with the rest of the cast."
You're in demand at so many of these comic conventions, does it get tiring answering the same questions over and over after all these years?
"I can't tell you what a gift it is to have fans like mine. Sure, sometimes the questions are something I've heard before, but I always remember that every person is different and unique. And I'm always pleasantly surprised by the great conversations we get into."
Star Trek's mission, I guess, was to shine the best on humankind. In an interview I read, Sen. Ted Cruz said "The original Star Trek pressed for racial equality, which was one of its best characteristics, but it did so without sermonizing." Do you agree with that?
"I think Star Trek portrayed a world where race simply didn't matter. We were past that, and onto the bigger questions in life. In that sense I agree with him. Shocking."
For everyone who's coming to see you, and wants to ask you a question at Wizard World Con this weekend, what's the one question you hope you'll never have to answer again?