Nichelle Nichols was an American actress, singer, and dancer best known for her portrayal of Nyota Uhura in Star Trek and its film sequels. Nichols' portrayal of Uhura was groundbreaking for African American actresses on American television. From 1977 until 2015, Nichols volunteered her time to promote NASA's programs and recruit diverse astronauts, including some of the first female and ethnic minority astronauts. Nichols was born in Robbins, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. She trained in dance, and began her career as a dancer, singer, and model in Chicago. She went into stage acting, and had a television and film career.