Celia Rose Gooding Had Plenty Of History With Uhura Before Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

Lieutenant Uhura was an indisputable win for Black women in science fiction — and a total cornerstone for Black female fans of the genre. As a sci-fi lover myself (and the daughter of a devout Trekkie) it's difficult to remember a time when I wasn't at least subtly aware of Nichelle Nichols' stately communications officer. The Uhura of the original series has always commanded a distant sort of reverence, but it was Zoe Saldaña's iteration of the character from the "Star Trek" reboot that crystalized that reverence for many a Millennial "Star Trek" fan — Celia Rose Gooding included.

Gooding is the third actor to portray Lt. Uhura after Saldaña, but she was a fan of the character long before dawning her iconic red shirt and go-go boots. "My first introduction to her as a character is from my mom, who is a huge Trekkie," Gooding told TrekMovie. "She used to take my sister and me to watch the new movies. And I remember running to the front row and watching it by myself and craning my neck up to look at Zoe [Saldaña]."

Saldaña brought an inherent competence to her take on Uhura, and it was a huge appeal to Gooding:

"She knew how brilliant she was. It wasn't something that she had to make a spectacle of. It was just something that when she needed to be that capable, brilliant person she was [able] to be just that."

Minding the gap

Gooding also really admired the "grace" and "glamour" that Nichols brought to the character. The two prior iterations of Uhura certainly possess the same kind of certitude — it's what made Uhura such an empowering character in the first place — but since Gooding is playing a younger version of Uhura in "Star Trek: Strange New Worlds," they're approaching that confidence a little differently:

"I think that that's the thing that I'm trying to carry in this very young version of her. This understanding that she knows even more than she probably thinks she knows. And she is much smarter than I think she assumes of herself. But the newness and the unsurety is something that I am weaving through this character, as we get to know her season to season. We know where she ends up. And we know who she ends up being. But we don't really know how she got there. And it's my job to sort of take that and use it to influence her growth."

Bridging the gap between the person Uhura was and the person she becomes in the original "Trek" would be a daunting task for anyone, but Gooding is taking it all in stride. It's a great way to bring more insight to one of the franchise's oldest characters, especially one so beloved (but simultaneously underserved). More Uhura-centered stories have certainly been a long time coming for the character's strongest supporters, so watching her develop over time is going to be a major treat. "That is something that I'm excited for the audience to sort of mark through the first season," Gooding remarked. "And of course, in the seasons to come."

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" airs Thursdays on Paramount+.