This week, honors the late, pioneering Nichelle Nichols by reflecting on not only Nichelle’s legacy but also that of the character she portrayed, Uhura.

Last year, a few of the leading women of Star TrekSonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham, Star Trek: Discovery), Michelle Hurd (Raffi Musiker, Star Trek: Picard), Dawnn Lewis (Carol Freeman, Star Trek: Lower Decks), and Isa Briones (Dahj/Soji/Sutra/Kore Soong, Star Trek: Picard) — came together for an in-depth Zoom conversation on First Contact Day to honor Nichelle Nichols and the documentary Woman in Motion.

Martin-Green took time during the discussion to share what went through her mind when she discovered she would be the lead star of Star Trek: Discovery and her Nichols’ connection, “I actually had a different experience with Nichelle because when I found out that I was gonna to be the lead of Discovery, all my thoughts just went to her.”

On her initial jitters, she explained, “It actually drummed up quite a bit of pressure— Not only did I just feel the pressure of doing the story justice and furthering this legacy, I consider it to be an heirloom. And I know how important it is to nurture it and continue with that innovation. And so I took that very seriously; I took it as a high calling.”

“I wanted to do it justice, generally speaking, but I also wanted to do [Nichelle Nichols] justice,” continued Martin-Green. “Because I felt like I was some sort of representation of her, an offshoot of her in the best sense of that word. And I was just filled to the brim; I was running over with gratitude and respect for her. And also just wanting…to make her proud. And wanting her to see the impact of what she's done, and wanting her to see that here I am. Like, I'm here because of you. Like here I am.”

At the red carpet premiere for the launch of Star Trek: Discovery, Martin-Green had the opportunity to meet Nichols for the first time. On that experience, she recalled, “On the red carpet for the premiere was the first time I met her, and [it] was like meeting this enigma, this queen.”

Sonequa Martin-Green meets Nichelle Nichols for the first time at the 2017 red carpet premiere of Star Trek: Discovery

“I was so nervous — I didn't know what to say, I didn't know how to be,” beamed Martin-Green. “I just was like...smiling in her face. And just, ‘Oh my gosh, I'm so grateful for you, I stand on your shoulders! You're a queen, I love you!’ And she's so humble, she's so graceful.”

“Then she whispered in my ear, like it was a cinematic moment,” she shared. “She whispered in my ear, ‘Take care; this is yours now.’”

“It was that blessing that I needed,” concluded Martin-Green. “Somehow she knew I needed. Opening that door ‘cause that’s what she’s done for us. And that’s her very message, that’s the heart of it right there. She’s saying to us, ‘Take care. It’s yours now. Here you go, I made a way for you.’”

The rest of the panelists also shared Nichelle Nichols’ impact during the First Contact Day discussion:

Star Trek: Discovery currently streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. Internationally, the series is available on Paramount+ in Australia, Latin America and the Nordics, and on Pluto TV in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom on the Pluto TV Sci-Fi channel. In Canada, it airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave. Star Trek: Discovery is distributed by Paramount Global Distribution Group.

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Nichelle Nichols
Sonequa Martin-Green