Nichelle Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois, near Chicago. Her father was both the town mayor of Robbins and its chief magistrate. She has studied in Chicago as well as New York and Los Angeles. During her time in New York, Nichelle appeared at the famous Blue Angel and Playboy Clubs, as a singer. She also appeared in the role of Carmen for a Chicago stock company production of "Carmen Jones."
She has twice been nominated for the Sara Siddon Award as best actress and is an accomplished dancer and singer. Her first Siddon nomination was for her portrayal of Hazel Sharp in "Kicks and Co.," and the second for her performance in "The Blacks."
Nichelle toured the United States, Canada and Europe as a singer with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands. On the West Coast, she appeared in "Roar of the Grease Paint, Smell of the Crowd," "For My People," and garnered high praise for her performance in the James Baldwin play, "Blues for Mr. Charlie."
Prior to being cast as Lt. Uhura in Star Trek, Nichelle had guested on Gene Roddenberry's first series, The Lieutenant.
Following Star Trek's cancellation in 1969, Nichelle went on to appear in films like, "Mister Buddwing," "Made in Paris," "Porgy and Bess," and "Doctor, You've Got to be Kidding!"
Turning her sights toward her music, Nichelle released a single, "Shoop Shoop," on 20th Century Records and often sings at her convention appearances. She has also released an album, "Dark Side of the Moon," which includes the song she wrote in tribute to Gene Roddenberry, "Gene." Nichelle sang the song at Roddenberry's memorial service.
Always interested in space travel, Nichelle flew aboard the C-141 Astronomy Observatory, which analyzed the atmospheres of Mars and Saturn, on an eight hour, high altitude mission. She was also special guest at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena on July 17, 1976 to view the Viking probe's soft landing on Mars. Along with the other cast members from the original Star Trek, Nichelle attended the christening of the first space shuttle, Enterprise, at Cape Canaveral. Nichelle also spends much time recruiting minorities for NASA.
A few years ago, Nichelle toured in a one-woman play where she portrayed many famous black female singers of the 20th century. Some of her hobbies are oil painting, designing her own clothes, reading science fiction and sculpting. She has also acted as spokesperson for her favorite charity, "The Kwanzaa Foundation."