“Woman in Motion” Showcases “Star Trek” Star

Now streaming on digital and on demand

This nostalgic and uplifting documentary is a testament to the notion that representation matters and a surprising tale of a hidden figure in the space program who changed the institution forever for the better. Todd Thompson’s Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA (B) is the true story of how renowned Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, known for her iconic Uhura character, pioneered the NASA recruiting program to hire people of color and the first female astronauts for the space agency in the late 1970s and 1980s. The film chronicles its subject’s life as a singer who performed with Duke Ellington, her launch into stardom in the boundary-breaking sci-fi property and ultimately her fiction-turned-fact work national blitz to recruit 8,000 of the nation’s best and brightest, including astronauts who became the first African-American, Asian and Latino men and women to fly into space. As a subject, Nichols is compelling, although too brief in direct interviews and footage. It’s wonderful to see interviews with other luminaries ranging from the late John Lewis and co-star George Takei to Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Seeing history through Nichols’ eyes and her indelible impact on real-life events delivers a powerful punch. Although the film is a bit linear in its guardrails of telling a chronological story, it does so with gusto and quiet might. It’s a must-see for Star Trek fans and budding scientists who will undoubtedly find new ways to be inspired by this trailblazer.

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