Nichelle Nichols Interview

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Smellincoffee, Aug 12, 2011.

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  1. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Does anybody have a reference to an article or interview anywhere that has Nichelle quoted as being inspired by MLK, without having met him? Anything I've ever read cites her as having met MLK briefly and that he encouraged her to stay on the show.

    I wouldn't be surprised if it is indeed true. MLK was very sensitive to the inequality issue, so anything as ground breaking as Star Trek would have caught his attention.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many people on TrekBBS criticize her and suggest she made up the whole thing. It doesn't seem that likely... and really, what does it matter? So long as the story doesn't change drastically, where she later says something like "After we met, MLK kept in touch with me, calling up after a watching an episode to chat, pushing me to get more screen time."
     
  2. Kamdan

    Kamdan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Mission Impossible and I Spy were mostly action shows and I'm sure MLK appreciated that African Americans were treated fairly on their shows, but I think he especially took note of Star Trek, because it took place in a future that reflected his own vision of the future where prejudice, at least amongst humans, was largely ignored. Also, it was African American woman and not a man being a recurring character on the show. Just ask Whoopi Goldberg what an influence she had on her.

    I do get what your point that the story has changed details over the years and I do hope it did happened and wasn't bullshit. I remember telling Nichol's story when I was in 2nd grade when we were learning about MLK. I first heard it on the William Shatner's Star Trek Memories VHS tape. My teacher's jaw dropped and gave me an applause and the other students joined in. It reminded me of Star Trek VI.
     
  3. Mr Silver

    Mr Silver Commodore Newbie

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    I don't personally criticize Nichelle. I find it slightly humorous how much the story has changed however, but I do find most thing's along those lines funny anyway. I personally believe that Nichelle is telling the truth and the story has probably changed over the years due to actor's being exposed to many great people and renowed people and perhaps having to focus their memory on stuff like scripts.

    I do think Nichelle met MLK and I do think that he was impressed with the show and how it depicted hope for equality. Even if Trek was set in the future it still showed that racial equality would happen eventually. You can't count out the impact that the show had on civil rights at the time either. Many episodes dealt with racial issues and conflict, but they also delivered solutions and compromises. LTBYLB probably delivers the best example when Kirk and Spock are baffled by Bele's statement that Lokai's people is white on the right side and that is why they are enemies.
     
  4. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    It affected Whoopi and Mae Jemison.
     
  5. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's changed drastically.

    Some of us are old enough to remember.
     
  6. Kamdan

    Kamdan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Would anyone can care to document the changes? I think she's simplified it over the years, but not told different versions. Also, when was it first told publicly?
     
  7. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It has? Well... details, then. And cite your sources. I'm curious to know and get all the ambiguity out of the way.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Several of us on this board have been trying to locate old interviews with Nichelle where the MLK story starts. Like Dennis, I recall it starting with "what would MLK do" and evolving from that, but I'm not satisfied with memory alone, which is why I'm trying to find cite-able sources.
     
  9. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, I also move that we try to get to the bottom of this.

    My recollection of what I first heard, in an interview with her televised sometime during the 80's, where and when I do not know, was of her saying that King personally asked her not to quit at the end of the first season. Whether he allegedly asked her over the phone, or in the same room in person, I won't swear to.

    When I first heard allegations that it was an evolving tall tale, I was mad.

    So, yeah, I'd like to know.
     
  10. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Yeah I've noticed the running joke on this forum for a while that she keeps changing her story, and I'd like to see some cited sources as well. If it's true that she has changed it drastically over the decades, it's pretty funny, but if it's just a few minor details, that's not really a big deal.
     
  11. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    A few minor details at a time, but over thirty years, those minor details turn into one helluva whopper.

    It started with her thinking "What would MLK do?"

    It's now evolved into Dr. King personally delivering a version of the "I Have A Dream" speech, which has also gotten longer and longer each time she tells the tale.

    That's not just "a few minor details".

    It should be noted that this is not the only instance where she's gilded the lily while relating a tale. Her version of that scene in ST IV where Chekov and Uhura are asking passersby the location of the "nuclear wessels" and the lady out walking her dog tells them Alameda is in stark contrast to the versions told by both Walter Koenig and Leonard Nimoy. In Nichelle's version, they went through multiple takes, the lady wasn't supposed to say anything, but kept chiming in "because they seem so nice", eventually leading to a minor conference where Nichelle suggests they just sign the lady to a one-day contract so they can use the footage and move on.

    Koenig and Nimoy, on the other hand, only tell of one take, and that the lady wasn't one of the extras, but someone off the street who was just walking her dog, had no idea there was a movie being shot, and was giving directions to these two strange people. The moment was so humorous and honest, they knew they wanted to keep it, but now it was a mad dash to track her down and get her to sign a release so they could use the footage.

    And we're not talking thirty years of failing and/or revisionist memory in this case, this started within a few years of the movie.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2011
  12. Crisp Crinkle

    Crisp Crinkle Admiral Admiral

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    So what we need are two or more different interviews, probably separated by years, where she gives different enough accounts so as to be contradictory, and preferably at least three interviews to show a trend.
     
  13. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    Well, as far as the MLK story goes, we'd need someone else who was at this alleged NAACP fund raiser. Any way of tracking down their schedule in 1967?
     
  14. Sir Rhosis

    Sir Rhosis Commodore Commodore

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    Well, neither story of the passerby is exactly true. Layla Sarakalo gave an interview a few years ago, which I personally encapsulated for Wikipedia as follows:


    "The scene in which Uhura and Chekov question passersby about the location of nuclear vessels was filmed with a hidden camera. However, the people with whom Koenig and Nichols speak were extras hired off the street for that day's shooting and, despite legends to the contrary, knew they were being filmed. In an interview with StarTrek.com, [COLOR=#0b0080]Layla Sarakalo[/COLOR], the extra who said, "I don't know if I know the answer to that... I think it's across the bay, in Alameda", stated that after her car was impounded because she refused to move it for the filming, she approached the assistant director about appearing with the other extras, hoping to be paid enough to get her car out of impoundment. She was hired and told not to answer Koenig's and Nichols' questions. However, she answered them and the filmmakers kept her response in the film, though she had to be inducted into the Screen Actors Guild in order for her lines to be kept."

    The original article is no longer on StarTrek.com it seems. She said she knew if she was able to get a line of dialogue in she would be paid more.

    Sir Rhosis
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  15. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That version makes more sense - "signing a release" is not sufficient to permit the use of the woman's performance if she had a line in a signatory studio film. She would have to have been paid.

    Even the use of Trek fans as nonspeaking background performers in ST:TMP was sufficiently offensive to cause changes to Guild agreements with the major studios to prevent it being done again in that manner.
     
  16. Kamdan

    Kamdan Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I know she spoke of the meeting on the 25th anniversary special, the William Shatner's Star Trek Memories VHS and I'm sure it is mentioned on the DVD set.
     
  17. Vonstadt

    Vonstadt Captain Captain

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    This totally made me chuckle :rommie:
     
  18. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    If we had a citation for her telling it as NOT a meeting or merely as a WWMLKD . . . .

    I lean towards an actual meeting. Exaggerating what was said at a meet-up seems more likely to me than making up a meeting entirely.

    God bless Ms. Nichols in either case, btw. She blessed my life in her small way, by being part of something I love that affected my worldview.
     
  19. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I first heard Nichols tell the story at a DC-area con sometime in the mid-80s. In that version, she received a phone call from MLK.

    Doug
     
  20. Mr_Homn

    Mr_Homn Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    One person's memory against another.


    If no one can reproduce some kind of evidence, then it's all a bunch of hearsay.
     
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