Nichelle Nicols born Grace Dell Nichols December 28, 1932
American actress, singer & voice artist
It was in Star Trek that Nichols gained popular recognition by being one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant; her prominent supporting role as a bridge officer was unprecedented. During the first year of the series, Nichols was tempted to leave the show, as she felt her role lacked significance; however, a conversation with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr changed her mind. She has said that King personally encouraged her to stay on the show, telling her that he was a big fan of the series. He said she "could not give up" because she was playing a vital role model for black children and young women across the country, as well as for other children who would see African Americans appearing as equals. It is also often reported that Dr. King added that "Once that door is opened by someone, no one else can close it again."