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Nyota Uhura (pronounced /niːˈoʊtə əˈhʊrə/), originally played by Nichelle Nichols, is a character in Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Animated Series, the first six Star Trek films, and the 2009 film Star Trek. In the 2009 film, a younger Uhura is portrayed by actress Zoe Saldana.

Uhura was an important part of the original series' multicultural crew [1] and one of the first characters of African descent to be featured on an American television series.



Gene Roddenberry had intended his new female communications officer to be called "Lieutenant Sulu."[2] Herb Solow pointed out how similar this was to "Zulu" and thought it might act against the plan for racial diversity in the show, so the name Sulu remained with George Takei's character.[3] "Uhura" comes from the Swahili word uhuru, meaning "freedom". Nichols states in her book Beyond Uhura that the name was inspired by her having had with her a copy of the book Uhuru on the day she read for the part. When producer Robert Justman explained to Roddenberry what the word uhuru meant, he changed it to Uhura and adopted that as the character's name.[3]

Uhura's first name was not used in Star Trek canon until Abrams's 2009 film, in a scene where the young Spock calls her "Nyota" in a moment of intimacy. Although other non-canon names had previously existed, "Nyota" had been the most common. Author William Rotsler created the name "Nyota" for his 1982 licensed tie-in book, Star Trek II Biographies published by Wanderer (Pocket) Books. Seeking approval for the name he contacted Gene Roddenberry and Nichelle Nichols. Gene Roddenberry approved of the name. Nichelle Nichols also approved and was very excited when Rotsler informed her that Nyota means "star" in Swahili.[4] After originating in Star Trek II Biographies "Nyota" started appearing in Star Trek novels, such as Uhura's Song by Janet Kagan.

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