The story of the Star-Trek-actress-turned-NASA-recruiting-pioneer Nichelle Nichols has been transformed for the screen in a documentary releasing Feb. 16. Directed by Todd Thompson, Woman in Motion: Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek and the Remaking of NASA goes into depth on the Star Trek actress’ journey as she formed the company Women In Motion Inc., helping recruit over 8,000 minority men and women for the space program.
“At the end of the day, it’s really about one person [who] can make the difference,” Thompson said. “What really hit me is regardless that she is Nichelle Nichols – Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, famous TV star, movie star, Broadway star – she is just an individual, and an individual can have such a large impact on the world.”
The film also draws in astronauts, scientists, celebrities and activists to help tell the story of how Nichols changed the space program we know today and to offer their perspectives. Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, singer and producer Pharrell Williams, and attorney and activist Benjamin Crump star in the film.
“There was never a boring day at the office,” Thompson said. “Every interview was just an amazing long conversation. Sometimes we were with them for several hours; sometimes we were with them for 30 minutes. But no matter how long we were with them, it was just amazing.”
The film took five years from start to finish and made its movie festival run in 2019. Thompson, who has his own Orlando-based production company called Stars North, was first introduced to the idea of this film in 2014 as the 50th anniversary of Star Trek approached.
Thompson is now working on his next projects about the Florida Highwaymen, with COVID-19 demonstrating the positive and negative sides of filming during a pandemic.
“We were going to start filming in May, and then that got pushed to July, and then that got pushed to late October, early November. And just because of COVID-19, the costs of doing business doubled, so it made it impossible to film,” Thompson said specifically about feature films. “On the documentary side, we can continue filming because it’s a much smaller crew and a much safer environment.”
Woman in Motion had its limited release in movie theaters from Feb. 2-6 and will be available to stream on-demand everywhere on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Those who pre-order through Apple TV+ will receive exclusive bonus features.
Photos Courtesy of SHOUT! Factory