She opened those hailing frequencies like a boss, making communications officer Uhura an essential member of the Enterprise bridge crew. Born in 1932, Nichols took on the laudable challenge of being an African American actress on television at a time when America was struggling with civil rights. As such, she became a symbol and an inspiration for many African-American women. Early in her career she enjoyed some success as a dancer and singer, eventually making her way to television, where she met Gene Roddenberry on The Lieutenant. When he was casting Trek, he knew he wanted her to be a part of it. For some years following the series acting roles were sparse, but she did parlay the growing popularity of Trek into a job at NASA, where she recruited minority and female personnel to the space agency.