"Uhuru is Swahili for freedom, and that's the history of Africa -- everyone is fighting for Uhuru in one way or another either violently or strategically. He (Gene Roddenberry) says, 'It sounds too harsh for a female.' I said, 'Well why don't you do an alliteration of it, soften the end with an 'A' and it'll be Uhura?' He said 'That's it, that's your name! You named it, it's yours. Now I know exactly where your character comes from, the United States of Africa.'"
About This Interview
In her Archive interview, Nichelle Nichols talks about her work as a cast member on the original Star Trek (NBC, 1966-69) playing "Lieutenant Uhura." Nichols discusses how this role broke many barriers, including portraying the first African-American woman as a high-ranking official and the first interracial kiss on television. She reveals how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced her decision to remain on the show. She talks about the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, and his vision for Star Trek. She details her early career, highlighting her roles in theater and film, and touring as a singer with Duke Ellington. She also discussed her roles on The Lieutenant (NBC, 1963-64), another Roddenberry production. She discussed more recent roles, such as "Nana Dawson" on Heroes (NBC, 2006-10). Nichelle Nichols was interviewed in North Hollywood, CA on October 13, 2010; Stephen J. Abramson conducted the nearly three-and-a-half-hour interview.