Zoe Saldana says late Star Trek actress Nichelle Nicols “not only succeeded, but helped so many to succeed” after her death at age 89.
The US actress, who also starred in Nichols’ famous role as communications officer Lt. Uhura played, praising the veteran actress as a “true star” who was “always ahead of her time.”
News of Nichols’ death was announced on Sunday by her son, Kyle Johnson, on her official Facebook page, who stated that she had died in Silver City, New Mexico, the day before.
In a post shared to social media on Monday, Saldana said she had “big shoes to fill” when taking on the role of Uhura, but Nicols “made me feel safe.”
“I am saddened to learn of the passing of Nichelle Nichols. We have lost a true star – a unique artist who was always ahead of her time,” she said in a lengthy Instagram post.
“She is an icon, an activist and most of all an amazing woman who pioneered a path that has shown so many how to see women of color in a different light.
“Their quest for equality was unwavering.”
She continued, “Meeting Nichelle was truly a very special moment in my life. Her energy was infectious every time I was in her presence.
“She convinced me that anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it.
“I knew I had big shoes to fill when I was chosen to play Uhura, and Nichelle made me feel safe and told me to play her with all the confidence in the world.
“I hope we continue to keep her memory alive by celebrating her amazing work and spreading the message of peace and equality among all people. She lived a long, amazing life and not only was successful but helped so many others to be successful.
“It will be hard to forget what she said and hard to forget what she did and it will certainly be impossible to forget how she made us feel.
“Rest in power, Queen Nichelle.”
Other members of the Star Trek family paid tribute to Nicols after the news, calling her a “pioneer.”
George Takei, who starred as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the fictional starship USS Enterprise, said after the news his “heart was heavy,” and later paid tribute to his “dearest friend.”
Sharing several stories that “are not that well known,” he said, “Nichelle and I spent the following decades together, not just as colleagues from the Enterprise bridge, but as lifelong friends.”
“While fans will miss and honor the celebrated actress who opened up so many avenues with her presence on screen, I will also miss the dear friend who always let you know she was there to support you, you.” to love and get through this weird and wonderful life next to you.
“Nichelle Nichols, you were one in a million in so many ways.”
Kate Mulgrew, who portrayed Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager, credited Nichols for paving the way for female actresses.
Mulgrew shared a photo of Nichols in her role as Lt. Uhura on Twitter and wrote: “Nichelle Nichols was first.
“She was a trailblazer, navigating a very challenging path with courage, grace and a beautiful fire that we probably won’t see again. May she rest in peace.”
While actress Jeri Ryan, who played the Borg drone Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, said: “RIP to a true legend. Her legacy will live forever,” in her tribute.
The official Star Trek Twitter account also wrote: “We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Nichelle Nichols – a pioneer, an inspiration and so much more. She will be greatly missed.”