Two years ago, I brought you a list of women I found to be Brilliant Ladies of Science Fiction. This year, I’d like to give you a list of 5 women I think are Influential Women of Science Fiction in Television.
My friend and fellow author Natacha Guyot has just released a book titled A Galaxy of Possibilities: Representation and Storytelling in Star Wars and I’ve been inspired to talk about 5 women who have influenced me in science fiction.
First up, I’d like to talk about the First Lady of Science Fiction. Everyone knows her and loves her. Were it not for her taking on an iconic role, we probably wouldn’t have had so many influential women. I am speaking of none other than Nichelle Nichols–better known throughout all of sci-fi culture as Lt. Uhura.
The First Lady of science fiction (in my opinion) opened up the doors for more women to take acting roles and be more than just a fixture or a pretty face. Ms. Nichols showed us intelligence, sexiness, brilliance and multi-talented grace in a time when women were just damsels in distress.
Born December, 28, 1932, Grace Dell Nichols studied in dance at the Chicago Ballet Academy, New York and Los Angeles and toured with Duke Ellington. Yes, you read that correctly, Duke Ellington. Yeah, she’s just that awesome.
But she didn’t stop there. Ms. Nichols went on to charm Mr. Hugh Heffner himself and spent time performing in his Chicago Playboy Club, then the Blue Angel and moved to the Blue Angel of New York where she sang and danced. From there, she headed back to Chicago to star in both “Carmen Jones” (I wish I’d seen that) and “Porgy and Bess”.
Before starring in Star Trek, she even starred in Gene Roddenberry’s series “The Lieutenant” in an episode dealing with racism. This led to her being cast as the amazing Lt. Uhura.
I have been influenced by Ms. Nichols because she never gave up. Taking a role in a white-male dominated world and making that role more than a simple damsel screaming for help took guts and glamor. Continuing in that role for not just one series, but six movies, as well as thousands of appearances at Cons across the world, shows her determination and perseverance.
First Lady Nichols inspires me to keep going strong no matter how much disappointment, roadblocks, naysayers, and fear tries to get in my way. Were it not for her courage, beauty, perseverance, and glamor, many of us wouldn’t have the chances that we have now to act, write and succeed.
To Ms. Nichols I say, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
Join me next week when I honor another woman of Influence in Science Fiction, Gina Torres of “Firefly” and “Serenity”.
I was very blessed in always knowing what I wanted to do, and by the grace of God I’ve been able to succeed in my chosen career.