You don’t need to tell Black Star Trek fans what a certifiable badass Uhura is. Even on The Original Series when all she did was work the ship’s comms, we knew she was so much more than they were letting her be. Now, the latest entry into the Star Trek universe, Strange New Worlds, is introducing us to Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura—and yes, she’s awesome.
Ahead of the series’ May 6 premiere on Paramount+, the franchise’s Twitter page released a teaser showcasing how important Uhura is to the Enterprise.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is a spinoff of Discovery and follows the crew of the Enterprise a few years before Kirk takes command. In addition to Gooding as Uhura, it also stars Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M’Benga, Christina Chong as La’an Noonien-Singh and Melissa Navia as Lt. Erica Ortegas.
The 30 second clip shows us a brilliant Cadet Nyota Uhura who confidently informs a crewmate that she speaks 37 languages—not the 12 he suggested. There’s also a quick moment between her and Spock that might hint at the show exploring a relationship between the two, similar to the latest film trilogy.
When Lt. Uhura was originally played by Nichelle Nichols in the ‘60s, it was ground-breaking to have a Black woman on TV every week as part of the main cast and be portrayed as an equal with agency and strength. Since the Star Trek universe takes place in a future that has evolved beyond racism, she was just treated as another member of the crew. In fact, when Nichols wanted to leave the series and return to the stage, it was Dr. Martin Luther King who convinced her to stay and informed her how truly influential Uhura was. Over the years, Nichols has recalled their meeting at an NAACP banquet stating that he said, “You cannot, you cannot...for the first time on television, we will be seen as we should be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful, people who can sing dance, and can go to space, who are professors, lawyers.“ He continued: “If you leave, that door can be closed because your role is not a Black role, and is not a female role, he can fill it with anybody even an alien.”
Of course, Nichols stayed and has been an essential part of the Star Trek universe ever since. Going into a role with this kind of history would be daunting for anyone, but Gooding has maintained her enthusiasm for playing the character.
“I am thrilled and honored to say that I will be playing Cadet Nyota Uhura,” she said during Star Trek Day celebrations in September. “I am so excited to be stepping into this legacy.”
What’s great about Nichols, Gooding and Zoe Saldana’s performances as Uhura is that each woman has brought a new layer of independence, spirit and strength to the character as she’s evolved through time.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds premieres on Paramount+ Friday, May 6.