Nichelle Nichols is a singer and actor. She sang with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton before turning to acting. Her most famous role was playing Nyota Uhura in Star Trek.
She was the first African American woman featured in a major television series. In the first year of the series, she felt that she had little to do, but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr told her that he was a fan and that she was a role model for black children.
In her role as Uhura, she participated in the first interracial kiss on television, with William Shatner (Captain Kirk) in the episode "Plato's Stepchildren." This provoked protest and was seen as groundbreaking, although the kiss was forced by alien mind control. The episode was not screened in some Southern States, however, it had caused many viewers to telephone to the broadcaster and the majority of the feedback of the incident was positive. It was over twenty five years before it was broadcast on British television.
After the series, she volunteered her time in a special project with NASA to recruit minority and female personnel for the organization, which proved to be a spectacular success.