Miss Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois on December 28, 1932 to Samuel Earl and Lishia Nichols. Her father was elected Mayor of Robbins in 1929.
She would act in a number of productions in the U.S., and toured as a singer across Canada, Europe, and the US with Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton. She would also appear on an episode of The Lieutenant, Gene Roddenberry‘s first series.
In 1966, she was cast in her most famous role, that of Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in Star Trek. She became one of the first African American actresses to star in a weekly show. However, she was going to quit after the first season of the series, but after meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., she was convinced to stay on the series.
She would remain on the series for all three years and would go on to reprise her role in the first six movies, as well as the animated series.
She, and William Shatner, would have an on-air kiss during the episode Plato’s Stepchildren. While other interracial kisses had been shown on TV prior to this, this was one of the first on a major TV show.
Miss Nichols was also known for her volunteer work with NASA, helping to inspire other minority and women applicants to apply.
Miss Nichols was married twice, first to Foster Johnson (with whom she had a son, Kyle Johnson) and then to Duke Mondy.
She passed away in Silver City, New Mexico on July 30th, 2022 of natural causes.