Uhura was the communications officer in the original Star Trek television series. Starring roles for black actresses at that time were rare, but Gene Roddenberry created a diverse cast for the Star Trek universe. Snippets from different episodes showed someone who could be a bit seductive and concerned about losing her looks and somewhat emotionally fragile, but she was always a professional when doing her job.
Comments made within the show indicated that she had a university degree in communications, including the technical aspects of electronics. She also played the harp and sang in several episodes. One of the first interracial kisses shown on television was between Uhura and Captain Kirk, albeit this was forced to happen by aliens playing a game (the first interracial kiss shown on American TV was when Sammy Davis Jr. kissed Nancy Sinatra on her variety show).
The role of Uhura was played by actress Nichelle Nichols. Nichelle Nichols wanted to leave the show after the end of the first season, but Martin Luther King, Jr. convinced her to stay, telling her that she was a role model for the black community. In fact, astronaut Mae Jamison remarked that Nichols' portrayal of Uhura inspired her decision to join the space program.
In the 2009 Star Trek film, Uhura was played by actress Zoe Saldana.