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St. John's Confidential File

Nichelle Nichols Hangs To Glory Of “Star Trek”
Posted by Michael St. John on Feb 1, 2014 - 5:05:16 AM

Nichelle Nichols on "Star Trek."
HELLO AMERICA!—When I first met actress-singer Nichelle Nichols in 1953, she was playing tennis with Teddy Jones, son of legendary singer Lena Horne.  She was ambitious and determined to be successful in one of the toughest industries in the world.


When I reminded Nichelle of those days she laughed and said, “For one thing I remember how hungry we were to be on top. You and I both were at every audition announced in the trades. And I wondered why I could get on some of the big music shows since I had sung for such famous musicians as Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton!”


Nichols agreed that she was so immersed in trying to be recognized  and seen by people of power in Hollywood, she neglected to understand that actors or performers of color were only signed or hired for spots in films or even on television if necessary. “Those were days when many of us were blind to the reality of what kind of world we were living in,” she offered.


“We were so into our dreams and what we needed to prove as creative people.  I really didn’t understand this until I met actor-director Frank Silvera.  He opened up a clearer version of existence for me.  He introduced me to the “Theatre of Being”, a technique which enhanced my craft as an actor and work in the light of truth when creating a character.  This is when I became an adult and more fully understand the art of what I was  struggling so hard to become. Believe me it was an awakening.”


Nichelle admitted her career began to take off once connected with Silvera. “I was signed, as you know, for “Porgy and Bess” and it was wonderful working with Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge and Pearl Bailey.  Just watching these people every day was a master class in acting.  I’ve been so lucky in so many ways and Frank Silvera opened the gate of pure professionalism for me. When he died, it took me a long time to pull myself together. But when I did, my life my career changed for the better. Eventually, I was signed to do Star Trek and it was a gift from heaven.  That’s when I began to live and breathe as a working actress and everything I had learned from Frank and life itself was the meat of whatever I was asked to do in front of the camera.”


Nichelle admits that she misses the cast of Star Trek because they became her family in so many ways. Well, she said, “We spent so much time together for so many years, it was hard for me to separate myself from them.  We shared good and bad times. And even now we try to find any excuse to be together.  I guess we just love each other. That’s the bottom line.”


Cliffside Malibu




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