#5 Nichelle Nichols
Star Trek series: Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series
Character name: Nyota Uhura
Nichols’ Uhura served as a communications officer aboard the USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise-A in The Original Series, The Animated Series, and the first six Star Trek films. Nichols’ portrayal of Uhura was groundbreaking as it was one of the first times that an African-American actress portrayed a non-stereotypical role on television. Previously, most African-American female characters on U.S. TV were depicted as maids or housekeepers, and Nichols’ Uhura helped break that barrier.
In 1977, Nichols started to take part in a special project to recruit minority and female personnel for NASA. Among those she directly recruited through the program were Dr. Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and U.S. Air Force Colonel Guion Bluford, the first African-American astronaut. In 1979, Nichols was named as NASA’s Woman of the Year for her efforts.