A good amount of sci-fi fans spent most of yesterday (September 8) celebrating “Star Trek Day,” a Paramount Plus-sponsored celebration for the 56th anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series.
The franchise as a whole was viewed and celebrated by fans worldwide, from shows like Star Trek: Discovery and the 1970s animated series to movies like the most recent in 2016 and the classic Wrath of Khan starring beloved late actress Nichelle Nichols. Her portrayal as Lieutenant Uhura in both the original series and first six feature films still stands as a pioneering performance that gave Black people early representation on broadcast television. It also didn’t hurt that she was also an icon for young fans during a revolutionary time in America, showing a beautiful Black woman in a leadership position on an intergalactic space mission — how dope is that?!
…and in real life, she was just as legendary:
It wouldn’t be too far off to say that Nichols helped usher in a wave of other iconic Black characters in Hollywood sci-fi films. Vampires, both good and bad, began defying the skin-white-as-porcelain rule in vampiric mythology; now you have Mahershala Ali gearing up to play Blade The Vampire-Slayer in the fan-favorite comic character’s upcoming MCU introduction. That’s not even getting into the superheroes!
In short, we want to pay our respects to the work of Nichelle Nichols and many Black actors that came after her who portrayed memorable roles that allowed us to see ourselves in worlds far beyond our imaginations.
Take a look at 10 Black sci-fi characters throughout movie history that paved the way for representation in the multiverse:
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