In February 1990 (between Star Trek V and VI) Nichelle Nichols did an interview with Starlog, more candid than four previous Starlog interviews, in which she had developed “a reputation for not complaining about the down side of being a lower ranking crew member on the good ship Enterprise.”
I feel good in what I’ve done in terms of developing the character [Uhura]. She’s a strong, mature and potentially powerful presence. Unfortunately, what the films’ story lines have done with the character have not been too great. There hasn’t been much room for Uhura to grow and develop.
Initially, Star Trek the series and Star Trek the films were designed for an ensemble of stars who would each be given equal time. But at some point, the decision was made to separate Bill and Leonard Nimoy from the rest of us. And I’m not happy with that situation.
I don’t mind Bill and Leonard being the stars. But, in light of the fact that we were totally typecast through Star Trek, I felt the least they could have done was not totally defuse our characters. I feel that in Uhura, the Star Trek producers have a potential star that is not being exploited. Uhura is a star. For them to not use that is foolish.
I’m glad she talked about this. She also talked about the infamous Uhura fan dance from Star Trek V:
[The fan dance] wasn’t just something thrown in for exploitative reasons. It was very much a part of the story-line, which made me very happy. Being a dancer made the preparation for it rather easy. The biggest problem in creating that scene was deciding just what kind of dance it would be.
It had to be seductive, and yet, I didn’t want it to look too professional because the story indicated Uhura didn’t have any dance background and was basically making something up on the spur of the moment.