Woman In Motion Director Swoons Over Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols’ Unwordly Achievements And “Regal” Presence

Woman In Motion director Todd Thompson describes working with Nichelle Nichols.

Woman In Motion is a documentary about Nichelle Nichols, the famous Star Trek actress who played Lieutenant Uhura and later used her fame to campaign to help NASA recruit new astronauts, specifically women and minorities.

It’s an amazing story that shows just how instrumental Nichelle Nichols has been in changing history be it on the television screen or the actual space program.

The Illuminerdi had the opportunity to speak with Woman In Motion director Todd Thompson. He explained how Nichelle Nichols embodies the mentality of Hollywood royalty and reminisced about the power that she has in her ability to reach people when speaking.  


“Nichelle is just, when I think of Hollywood royalty she really fits that definition. She’s extremely regal, extremely hospitable. I mean going to her home she insists that she welcome you into her home even if we arrive and she’s not ready yet. We set up in the living room and then we exit the house through the back door and come back in through the front door so she can welcome us and so it was very just adorable and just so nice. And she’s gracious, she’s selfless is a is a great word for her, and just loved by everyone.

Just being in her presence and listening to her talk, very much like it was said in the film, she thought when she first was initially pitched the idea of going on the road for NASA going on this campaign she kind of laughed it off and then that’s just her humility and her being humble coming out right there.

But like they said ‘when people listen to you for five minutes you’ll have them’ and you know she says the first five words and she has you, really. I mean she’s just that well-spoken and that eloquent and that sincere in how she talks and delivers a story and communicates. So, she was a good choice for communication officer now that I think about it, perfect choice.”


Director Todd Thompson recalled the moment when he knew Nichelle Nichols’ story and message was extremely important to tell in Woman In Motion.


“This goes back to like the first time we sat down with Nichelle. It was during that first week we were in California with her at her home and she’s sitting in the chair and…I’m sitting behind the monitor watching everything as we, as she talks and I’m also half listening and half flipping through story outline if you will. Something she said, like literally I want to say like hit me over the head, but like it was this warm feeling that came over me and the hair on my arms stood up and I immediately like looked at the monitor and focused in on what she was saying.”


Without revealing exactly what Nichelle Nichols said that hit him so hard, Todd Thompson described the impact of the moment. Be on the lookout because the moment he describes is in the documentary Woman In Motion

“I knew right then and there, this is what this story is about, what she said was so profound, so simple yet so profound that I knew that not only that this is what the story was about but it was more, it was even more than that. It was like this is the blueprint this is the answer humankind’s been waiting for like this is what we need to do to resolve our problems here on Earth, if we’re ever going to look to the Moon, Mars and beyond. So, it was just an extremely simple but extremely profound statement she made that’s in the film.”


Nichelle Nichols had quite the list of mentors, Thompson remembered going through the list of people that helped teach and inspire Nichols, including her father who always told her that she could be anything she wanted to be.

“By the time we finished this film we sat back one day and were like you know what, you can’t ask for a better line up of mentors than Nichelle had. I mean Duke Ellington, MLK, Gene Rodenberry, I mean it just the list the list just keeps going on and on.”

Nichelle Nichols has had an enormous impact on the world. Most people are lucky to change the world once and she changed it in so many ways. She has inspired an entire generation of artists and scientists alike. Nichelle Nichols diversified the recruitment of the NASA astronaut program.


The inspiring true story of how renowned Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols 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, Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA will come to home theaters on digital and on demand everywhere on February 16, 2021. Fans who preorder from Apple will also have access to exclusive bonus features, including an extended “The Story Behind the Story” featurette, deleted scenes, teasers and trailers.

Directed by Todd Thompson (The Highwaymen, PRE FAB!), Woman in Motion chronicles how Nichols transformed her sci-fi television stardom into a real-life science career when, in 1977, she embarked on a campaign to bring diversity to NASA. Nichols formed the company Women In Motion, Inc. and recruited more than 8,000 African American, Asian and Latino women and men for the agency.

Nichelle and her program continue to influence the younger generation of astronauts as well, including Mae Jemison, the first female African American astronaut in space. Despite an uphill battle against a bureaucracy that was hesitant to let her get involved, Nichols persevered and is credited by NASA for turning it into one of the most diverse independent agencies in the United States Federal Government.

In addition to Nichols, Woman In Motion features notable celebrities, activists, scientists and astronauts including Neil deGrasse Tyson, George Takei, Pharrell Williams, Martin Luther King III, Al Sharpton, Vivica A. Fox, Walter Koenig, Rod Roddenberry, Michael Dorn, Guy Bluford, Charles Bolden, Ivor Dawson, Frederik Gregory and Benjamin Crump.

Woman In Motion is available on Video On Demand February 16, 2021. Are you going to watch Woman In Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek And The Remaking Of NASA? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media.



Caitlin Tyrrell

Caitlin Tyrrell

Features Manager & Producer with The Illuminerdi. Caitlin has a deep love for storytelling of every kind. She is a huge fan of television, animation, and film, but Star Wars, the MCU, and Critical Role hold a special place in her heart.