Nichelle Nichols’ Impact on Black Sci-Fi Characters

Here are some of the brilliant Black characters of sci-fi that have grown since Nichelle Nichols’ Lt. Uhura hit the screens

NIchelle Nichols was a Trailblazer in Sci Fi
NIchelle Nichols was a Trailblazer in Sci Fi

We send our condolences to the family and millions of fans after the recent passing of a trailblazer in sci-fi, Nichelle Nichols. So BLAC wanted to share her impact on the world of Black sci-fi characters. From the late Nichelle Nichols’ Uhuru of “Star Trek” to the heart-felt yearning for the late Chadwick Boseman, here are some of the brilliant Black characters of sci-fi that have grown since these characters hit the screen.

Lt. Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols

The triple threat actress, singer, and dancer Nichelle Nichols portrayed the beautiful and smart character of Lt. Uhura in the original “Star Trek” series. Her character was known to be one of the first Black women who did not have to resort to playing a demeaning role on television. Instead, Uhura was one of elegance and opened doors for other Black women in the sci-fi genre. We might be currently mourning the death of Nichols, but her legacy lives on.

Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman in “Black Panther”

The late Chadwick Boseman portrayed one of the most important characters in the Marvel universe: T’Challa, aka the Black Panther. Released in February 2018, Marvel fans new and old swarmed the movie theaters to see a majority Black cast in a Marvel film, finally, and Boseman did not disappoint. As the second Black Panther film is set to be released later this year, Boseman’s resounding presence will be missed.

Morpheus played by Laurence Fishburne in “Matrix” and “Matrix Reloaded”

Morpheus! This wise and just badd-ass character was played by Laurence Fishburne. First he appeared on our screens in 1999 in “The Matrix” and continued for two more films in the series.

Darth Vader voiced by James Earl Jones in “Star Wars”

The ominous voice of Darth Vader was originally that of James Earl Jones in “Star Wars: A New Hope” (1977). He continued to voice Vader throughout several of the franchise’s films, TV series and video games.


Michonne played by Danai Gurira in “The Walking Dead”

While “The Walking Dead” gets a somewhat deserved reputation for less than inspiring portrayals of its Black male characters, females fare a bit better with Michonne, especially. She’s every bit the fierce katana wielding warrior she is in the comics.

Another “The Walking Dead” character unique to the TV series, Sasha’s longevity and character arc also mark her in stark contrast to the portrayals of African-American men on the show — which is particularly noteworthy as much of her arc revolves around the various foibles of two notable Black male characters on the show.

Niobe played by Jada Pinkett-Smith in “Matrix 2” and “Matrix Reloaded”

The fierce Niobe portrayed by Jada Pinkett-Smith was the love interest Morpheus AKA Laurence Fishburne in the sci-fi movie “Matrix.” Pinkett played Niobe in three other “Matrix” films as well as a video game.

Robert Warren played by Kellita Smith in “Z Nation”

A former National Guard lieutenant, Roberta’s military training and background has helped her survive the apocalyptic world of “Z Nation” and become de-facto leader of the survivor group on their mission to transport “the package” to California.

Zoe Washburne Played by Gina Torres in “Firefly” and “Serenity”

Played by Gina Torres in the TV series “Firefly” and the movie “Serenity”, Zoe Washburne is a tough and deadly fighter who serves as the first mate on the spaceship Serenity. Born Vesselside, Washburne was seemingly destined for a life of adventure from the very beginning.

The Pierce Sisters of Black Lightening

The Pierce family graced our screens from 2018-2021, a Black family of superheroes. The sci-fi show followed Jefferson Pierce played by Cress Williams, who was a dad, principal, and retired superhero. He put his suit back on when a gang re-emerged in his hometown, threatening his family life. He and his daughters, Anissa and Jennifer (played by Nafessa Williams and China Ann McClain), learn to use their powers and protect their community and each other. Believe it or not, this was the first Black-led DC superhero TV series.

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