Nichols Loves Being One of Trek's HeroesBy Michelle
September 20, 2007 - 9:28 PM
"There was such a need, that show came on and it just blew people's minds," Nichelle Nichols said of the original Star Trek, noting that women come up to her to this day telling her, "You changed my life...I just said to myself, 'If she can do it, I can do it.'"
In an interview after the premiere of her film Lady Magdalene's at DragonCon, Nichols told Cinema Blend that "women of any color could see themselves in me and say, 'Yeah! That's where I want to go!'" Asked what she would tell the actress taking over the role of Uhura for the upcoming Star Trek feature film - reportedly Zoe Saldana - Nichols said to focus on the character's background:
Think about what it took for Uhura, what kind of person she was, from the United States of Africa, her parents were scientists and spacefarers, there was always great expectations of her from them and from herself. She has high regard for herself and for her work and for humankind...and yet she's down to earth, is funny but she's no nonsense when it comes to her work.
Nichols joked that she didn't want to call the original series cast "the old characters", asking, "Could we say the original characters?" She did not perceive them as heroes but "ordinary people doing extraordinary work...making good moral choices." On the subject of Heroes, however, she was thrilled to discuss her role on the NBC series, where she joins Star Trek castmate George Takei (Sulu).
"I had a huge audience for the question and answer...they went up in smoke" when told them she would be on Heroes, related Nichols of her reception at DragonCon. "They screamed so loudly and so happy...I felt like Oprah giving away the cars!"
Asked whether she could talk at all about her role, Nichols added, "My character's name is Nana and it takes place in New Orleans...right after Katrina." She plays the great-aunt of young hero Micah, the grandmother of new character Monica with whom Micah goes to live. "That's all I can tell you," laughed Nichols, who said she is not at liberty to say whether Nana has powers or "even as much as I've already told you." Asked whether she and Takei will have scenes together, she said, "Anything is possible."
In Lady Magdalene's, the film that premiered at the convention, Nichols plays a role rather different than those for which she is known: a madam. "She's an indomitable figure..she's gone through hell," Nichols explained. Part of the appeal of the role was the chance to sing. "One of the songs was in the role before I got it...I saw an opportunity," she noted. "There's a line at the end of the show where I say that my husband, Cadillac Jack, was right: a woman's got to be ready for anything." That line inspired Nichols to write a song that is featured in the film.
The original interview can be streamed here.