Nichelle Nichols (Uhura on the original series):”Whoopi Goldberg, she’s just marvellous. I had no way of knowing that she was a Star Trek fan. When I finally met her it was her first year on the Next Generation.
She loved the show so much and she told her agent she wants a role on Star Trek. Well agents go ‘Big screen, little screen, no, you can’t do that’. Well you can’t tell Whoopi ‘You can’t do that’.
And so they finally asked, and they had the same reaction at Star Trek office, specifically Gene. And she said, ‘I want to meet him and I want him to tell me to my face. If he tells me he doesn’t want me and why, I’ll be fine.’
Knowing Gene he had to take that challenge, and so he met with her. She said, ‘I just wanted you to tell me why you don’t want me in Star Trek.’
Gene said, ‘Well, I’ll just ask you one question and I’ll make my decision on that. You’re a big screen star, why do you want to be on a little screen, why do you want to be in Star Trek?’
And she looked at him and she said, ‘Well, it’s all Nichelle Nichols’ fault.’
That threw him, he said, ‘What do you mean?’
She said, ‘Well when I was nine years old Star Trek came on,’ and she said, ‘I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, “Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!”’ And she said, ‘I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be, and I want to be on Star Trek.’
And he said, ‘I’ll write you a role.’
That’s an awesome story, and a perfect example of why positive role models matter.