Zoe Saldana says that late Star Trek actress Nichelle Nicols “not only prospered, but helped so many to prosper” following her death aged 89.
The US actress, who also played Nichol’s famous role of communications officer Lt Uhura, praised the veteran performer as a “true star” who was “ahead of her time always”.
News of Nichols’ death was announced by her son Kyle Johnson on her official Facebook page on Sunday, which stated that she had died the day previous in Silver City, New Mexico.
In a post shared to social media on Monday, Saldana said she had had “big shoes to fill” taking over the role of Uhura, but that Nicols had “made me feel safe”.
“I’m saddened to learn of Nichelle Nichols’ passing. We have lost a true star- a unique artist who was ahead of her time always,” she said in a lengthy Instagram post.
“She’s an icon, an activist and most importantly an amazing woman- who blazed a trail that has shown so many how to see women of color in a different light.
“Her strive for equality was unwavering.”
She continued: “Meeting Nichelle was truly a very special moment in my life. Her energy was infectious every time I was in her presence.
“She convinced me in believing that anything was achievable, if you put your heart into it.
“I knew I had big shoes to fill when I was chosen to play Uhura, and Nichelle made me feel safe, told me to play her with all the confidence in the world.
“My hope is that we continue to keep her memory alive by celebrating her amazing body of work, and by spreading the message of peace and equality amongst all people. She lived a long, impactful life and not only prospered, but helped so many others prosper too.
“It’ll be hard to forget what she said and hard to forget what she did, and it will certainly be impossible to forget how she made us feel.
“Rest in power Queen Nichelle.”
Other members of the Star Trek family paid tribute to Nicols following the news, describing her as a “trailblazer”.
George Takei, who starred as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu of the fictional starship USS Enterprise, said his “heart is heavy” following the news and later shared several lengthier tributes to his “dearest friend”.
Sharing several stories that “aren’t as well known” he said “Nichelle and I spent the following decades together as not only colleagues from the bridge of the Enterprise, but as lifelong friends”.
“While fans will miss and honor the famous actress who opened so many paths with her presence on the screen, I will also miss the dear friend who always let you know she was there to support you, to love you, and to go through this strange and wonderful life alongside you.
“Nichelle Nichols, you were one in a million in so many, many ways.”
Kate Mulgrew, who portrayed Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, praised Nichols for pathing the way for female actresses.
Sharing a photo of Nichols in her Lt Uhura role to Twitter, Mulgrew wrote: “Nichelle Nichols was The First.
“She was a trailblazer who navigated a very challenging trail with grit, grace, and a gorgeous fire we are not likely to see again. May she Rest In Peace.”
While actress Jeri Ryan, who played Borg drone Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, said: “RIP to a true legend. Her legacy will live forever” in her tribute.
The Star Trek official Twitter account also wrote: “We’re deeply saddened to report the passing of Nichelle Nichols – a trailblazer, an inspiration, and so much more. She will be deeply missed.”