Trailblazing actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Nyota Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series, has died at age 89.
The late actress broke barriers for Black women in the entertainment industry in her iconic role in the 60s hit series, which has continued to inspire sequels and spin-offs several decades later.
Nichelle was one of the first Black actors to play a major role in a television series and has been cited as a source of inspiration for many who followed her lead.
Star Trek fans revere the late actress, and an outpouring of grief on social media followed her death.
Nichols’s role in the series was so influential that NASA employed the iconic actor to campaign to encourage women and African-Americans to join the space program.
Dr. Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to fly aboard the Space Shuttle, credited Nichols and Star Trek with aiding in her decision to join.
Nichelle Nichols’s son reveals her cause of death
On Facebook, Nichelle Nichols’s son Kyle Johnson revealed the sad news with a statement.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” he wrote on her official Facebook page, continuing:
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light, however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.”
“Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all,” he wrote before asking for privacy while her family grieves.
According to BBC News, Nichelle reportedly suffered a mild stroke in 2015 but was not known to have any other medical issues.
The report notes that civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King was among her fans, and she enjoyed a cult following throughout her life and frequently attended Star Trek events.
She also appeared in Star Trek movies between 1979 and 1991 and made a guest appearance on Futurama alongside fellow Star Trek star George Takei in 2002.
She played the role of Nana Dawson in the 2006 hit series Heroes.
Tributes pour in for Star Trek legend Nichelle Nichols
Lynda Carter shared a stunning photo of the late actress and a tribute to her influence in Hollywood for Black women.
Kate Mulgrew acknowledged Nichelle’s death praising her grace and acting abilities.
Her co-star George Takei shared an adorable photo of the pair, paying tribute to their friendship.
NASA praised the late actress as a role model, thanking her for helping recruit astronauts and inspiring many others.
Before appearing in Star Trek, Nichols was a gifted and accomplished dancer with only a few acting roles.
Nichols married twice and is survived by her son Kyle Johnson who is also an actor.