Whoopi Goldberg isn’t just a Star Trek cast member; she’s a longtime Trek fan, too.
We’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at a bonus feature from the new Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6 Blu-ray set (in stores now), with the Oscar-winning actress explaining how she came to play Enterprise bartender Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
She recalls approaching Trek creator Gene Roddenberry when TNG was just getting started and telling him, “I really want to be on this show.” So she met with Roddenberry and executive producer Rick Berman, and they asked her why she wanted to be a part of Star Trek so badly.
“I said, ‘Do you not know that, prior to your show, there were no black people in any sci-fi, anywhere?” Goldberg remembers. Roddenberry couldn’t believe that, but he called Goldberg up a few days later and told her, “You know what? I checked, and you’re right.”
Goldberg is, of course, referring to Lt. Uhura, the communications officer played by Nichelle Nichols on the original Star Trek TV series from 1966 to 1969. As a respected member of the Enterprise crew, Uhura was a trailblazing role for African-Americans on TV; Nichols later revealed that Martin Luther King Jr. himself (!) told her how important her Trek role was in promoting racial equality.
And the role certainly inspired a young Whoopi Goldberg. “When I was a little girl, it was like, ‘Oh, we are in the future.’ Uhura did that for me. So I want to be on your show,” she told Roddenberry and Berman.
The rest — 28 TNG episodes, two movies, and a permanent place in the Trek universe — is history.
Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6 is available now on Blu-ray.