Nichelle Nichols to be Special Guest at SF Convention on NMT Campus

Nichelle Nichols

by Kathleen Hedges

SOCORRO, N.M., July 25, 2008 – New Mexico Tech’s first science fiction convention, set for Sept. 12 – 14, is pleased to have Nichelle Nichols as its guest of honor.

Right: Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek.

Nichelle Nichols, known for creating the role of Lt. Uhura on the original Star Trek series, has been credited by both Whoopi Goldberg and Dr. Mae Jemison (the first African-American female astronaut) for inspiring them in beginning their careers.

Nichols has written her autobiography, Beyond Uhura, published by the Putnam Publishing group, and her first science fiction novel, Saturn’s Child, featuring an intergalactic heroine, Saturna, published by Putnam-Berkeley. The sequel, Saturna’s Quest was published by Planet X Publishing in Feb. 2002.

Nichelle Nichols

Left: Nichelle Nichols today.

Nichols will sign her book on Saturday, Sept. 13, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the atrium of Fidel Center, at New Mexico Tech. Also signing will be New Mexico writers Jane Lindskold, S. M. Stirling, Walter Jon Williams, and David Lee Summers.

The deadline to register for the convention, “Digging into Other Worlds” is August 29. After Aug. 29, the late-registration fee is $85 for everyone. Registration is at www.nmt.edu/~ink. Before Aug. 29, fees, which include all activities and the Saturday evening dinner, are:

  • $75 for the general public
  • $30 for New Mexico Tech faculty and staff
  • Events free to all full-time New Mexico Tech students (registration required; dinner extra)
  • $50 for New Mexico Tech alumni
  • $10 for high school students (must show ID at registration table) $20 extra for the Saturday dinner.

For more information on the science fiction convention, please see .

Nichelle Nichols began her professional singing and dancing career in her home town, Chicago, at the tender age of 14. As a teenager, she was discovered by the great Duke Ellington who hired her to choreograph and perform a ballet for one of his musical suites, and subsequently to finish the tour as his band singer. Nichelle was performed in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, including guest artist with Lionel Hampton’s band.

Nichols was cast by Gene Roddenberry to create Lt. Uhura in his legendary TV series, Star Trek. Subsequently, she co-starred in six blockbuster Star Trek motion pictures. She is in constant demand to appear before the millions of “Trekkers” who keep the dream alive around the world. Among her other TV and film credits, she co-starts with Cuba Gooding Jr., and James Coburn in the Disney motion picture, “Snow Dogs;” co-starred in a feature TV film, “Captain Zoom in Outer Space,” with Ron Perlman and Daniel Riordan; co-starred with Maxwell Caufield and Lavar Burton in the Sandy Howard film, “The Supernaturals;” and danced and sang with Sammy Davis Jr., in “Porgy & Bess.”

She was twice nominated for the coveted Sarah Siddons Award for best actress for her performances in the theatre productions of Jenet’s “The Blacks” and the Oscar Brown Jr. musical “Kicks and Company.” She starred in the touring Broadway hits, “Horowitz and Mrs. Washington,” and “Nunsense II.” In her one-woman show, “Reflections,” a dramatic musical theatre piece, she ‘becomes’ twelve legendary female entertainers, utilizing her beautiful three octave vocal range, captivating acting abilities, and comic relief to a vibrant original music score. With rave reviews at the Westwood Playhouse in Los Angeles and Bayview Playhouse in Toronto, she plans for a CD album and a video recording of “Reflections.”

On January 9, 1992, Nichols was awarded her much deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A few weeks before, she became the first African-American to place her handprints and signature in the cement walk at the famous Mann’s (Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre. Along with the other command crew members on the Starship Enterprise, Nichols was installed in a special exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, an unprecedented accolade for the entertainment industry.

Nichols was chosen to perform as guest solo artist with the Erie Pennsylvania Philharmonic Orchestra of the California State University-Northridge, where she previously was commencement speaker for their School of Arts. Her latest CD album, “Nichelle…Our of this World,” released under the GNP Crescendo label, contains an eclectic selection of jazz, ballads and show tunes, as well as an original composition, “Gene,” in honor of Gene Roddenberry.

Nichols’ public service activities have been equally outstanding. Under contract to NASA, she took on the daunting task to successfully recruit the first women and minority astronauts for the Space Shuttle Program, for which she received NASA’s distinguished Public Service Award for her pioneering efforts. She continues as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Space Society, and as a member of the Advisory Board of the International Space Camp.

In 2004, Nichols was selected as one of the International Human Rights Consortium’s Fete d’Excellence Laureates.