Here’s the second part of my interview with Nichelle Nichols of “Star Trek” fame. She’s appearing this weekend at Motor City Comic Con.
In addition to her work on TV and in movies, she’s worked with NASA as a recruiter for minority astronauts. More recently, she’s lent her name and efforts to support President Barack Obama’s STEM initiative to encourage kids to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and math. She’s been visiting schools and various space centers.
Her next project is a film called “Omaha Street,” which she is producing and starring in.
Speaking of MCCC, now that I’ve entered the 21st century and bought an iPhone, I’ll be tweeting and possibly blogging from the show, so keep an eye out.
And now, on to Ms. Nichols:
How was the original series different from working on the later movies?
“It’s a different medium. And it takes on a different complexity. Filmmaking and television is a matter of hurry up and wait. It’s not like theater where you do continual scene after scene. You do things out of context. It takes another kind of demand on your abilities. That’s another aspect of your career, of your responsibility. I wasn’t crazy about all of the movies, but I didn’t dislike any of them. But it shows you the power of the people because not only did ‘Star Trek’ come back to to the films, and not only did they do one film that succeeded, they did several. That’s not a bad legacy.”
What’s your favorite convention story?
“I don’t know if I have one; there are so many. It’s just fandom in general. I have nothing but the highest regard for “Star Trek” fandom. They come from all walks of life, and that’s what Gene gave to the world — that all walks of life are important. And that’s what makes the world beautiful.”
You’ve done the fan-ish “Star Trek” film “Of Gods and Men.” (It featured several “Trek” alumni, including Walter Koenig, Grace Lee Whitney and Alan Ruck.) What was that like?
(One fan Web series, “Star Trek: Osiris,” is filmed in Metro Detroit and will have a booth at the convention. Full disclosure: I have a bit part in the first episode.)
“Arduous, because we weren’t in the studio and didn’t have all the luxuries of working in a studio. It was like back when you said, ‘We’ve got a barn. We can put a stage show,’ and it comes out just great. It was hard because it was a hundred and some degrees, and I thought, ‘Never again.’ But when I saw the results, it was all worth it.”
Tell me a bit about STEM.
“I find it so rewarding because our space program is our greatest natural asset, I think. Instead of reducing it, we should be building it. I think nothing will stop our onward push. Just because the space shuttle program ended … just look at how much it accomplished beyond what it planned to do. That’s not the end of the space program. Incredible things are going to happen. We’re already delving further into our space and bringing back incredible amounts of information. That’s why STEM is so important to young people. They’re our future, and if you really want a career, get involved with all the areas of the youth programs that are focused on that. And schools are focusing more on science and engineering and technology and robotics. If you’re not a physicist and an engineer, sing about it and perform about it. Our education system is in shambles. It’s absolutely disgraceful that college loans are so high and are going up in spite of everything Obama has tried to do to bring it down. We’ve got a House that’s a do-nothing House until they can destroy Obama.”
What is “Ohama Street” about?
“It’s a brilliant story of redemption and forgiveness and love. And it’s between a young white boy who’s taken in and his life is saved by a black family who have lost their son in an accident with this kid. It’s an incredible story.”
Would you rather have a teleporter that really worked, or a phaser that really worked?
I’d rather have both. They come in handy. … But a teleporter most assuredly, with a phaser on my hip.”