Star Trek: Strange New Worlds actress Celia Gooding, who plays Nyota Uhura in the show, recently discussed her character’s hairstyle in the show.
Gooding’s version of Uhura, at least at this point in the show, keeps her hair cut extremely short. Nichelle Nichols’ version of the character featured numerous different hairstyles from a small afro in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a perm-look in Star Trek III, to the classic short cut with bangs in The Original Series.
Zoe Saldana’s version of Uhura in the more recent Star Trek films would also feature different hairstyles from a long ponytail, to having it tied up in a bun, to it pulled back and hanging below her shoulders.
Speaking with Trekmovie.com, Gooding would reply to a question asked by Laurie Ulster, “Can you talk about the choice for Uhura to have your short hair? Did anyone try to suggest a wig or anything else?”
Gooding answered, “No. I auditioned like this and they loved it. So it was never a conversation.”
However, she did indicate they did approach her about a wig, but she turned it down, “It was approached—like they asked me would I want to wear a wig? And my answer was, ‘Absolutely not.’”
Gooding then explained why she’s opposed to wigs, “Wigs? I like to let my scalp breathe.”
“So to have an opportunity to look like myself and show up as myself as this character, it’s an incredible opportunity,” she concluded.
Gooding isn’t the only Uhura actress to have pointed comments about her character’s hairstyle. Nichols talked about her hair style for Star Trek: The Motion Picture as part of Preston Neal Jones’ Return To Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek The Motion Picture.
Speaking to her afro-look in the film, Nichols told Jones, “I was one of the first black women in the country, more years ago than I care to remember, who wore an afro “outside,” in public. This was way before Star Trek. I wore one of the biggest afros in New York, but I wore it with Dior and Chanel suits. One of the other persons who was the first to wear an afro, but she cut it very short, was Cicely Tyson. But when it came time to do the Star Trek movie, I had to fight for that afro.”
“It was nothing against the afro, but the feeling was that the afro had become so very popular that it looked too contemporary. I said, “However, the afro is not modern, the afro has been around for at least not less than 5,000 years and probably at least 10,000. I’m not sure how long we’ve been on the planet, but as long as there have been black people the afro has been around,” she explained.
Nichols continued, “Then they said, ‘Well, it can’t be the big bubble, so let’s try to get a more ‘Uhura’ style.’ I said, ‘What are you going to do, deny her race and make her hair straight again? If we’re going to have to live through that again…’ They assured me that what they had in mind was more of a balance, and we agreed.”
She elaborated on the hairstyle, “We said, ‘OK, women in the future will do all kinds of things, as they have in the past. For 5,000 years and more they’ve straightened their hair and curled it and rolled it and twisted it and braided it and twirled it and shaved it off and done everything under the sun. And so, in the future, it’s very conceivable that, just as we do today, black people will do these twirly-curl kind of things, and point their bangs, and this would be peculiar to Uhura: the pointed bangs and long sideburns.’”
“We went afro, and pointed the bangs, pull-cut it short to the back and essentially gave the same hairdo as in the original series, but in an afro. But Bob Wise said ‘No curlicues on top.’ I said, ‘You got it! I don’t want ‘em either,’” she detailed.
While Nichols was satisfied with the afro look, she indicated she would have preferred cornrow braids saying, “To tell the truth, I really wanted cornrow braids. And don’t you dare call them ‘Bo Derek braids!’ That’s something that we’ve been doing for thousands of years before she was born!”
What do you make of Gooding’s comments on Uhura’s hairstyle?