Star Trek legend who became NASA’s ‘secret weapon’

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Story highlights

Exclusive interview with Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura on Star Trek

Glamorous TV star was recruiter for NASA

One of first interracial kisses on TV, with William Shatner aka Captain Kirk

Toured with jazz legend Duke Ellington as dancer and singer

CNN  — 

Nichelle Nichols has spent her whole life going where no one has gone before, and at 81 she’s still as sassy and straight-talking as you’d expect from an interstellar explorer.

“I don’t have enough sense to keep my mouth shut,” says the legendary Star Trek actor with a hearty laugh. “Whatever comes up, comes out.”

“I can’t help myself.”

As the startlingly beautiful and fiercely intelligent Lt. Uhura on the hit 1960s TV series, Nichols was a revolutionary figure at a time when the only African-American women you saw on U.S. TV were usually playing servants.