Powerful Women: Nyota Uhura

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Powerful Women seeks to find well-rounded strong female characters in the media, whether that is in movies, television, video games, or books. I find these women using three basic categories which I rank on a scale from one to five: diversity, development, and flaws. Diversity entails how well the character embodies realistic people, such as diversity in race, sexual orientation, or class. In other words, does she get away from straight, white, middle-class woman that seems to dominate our culture? Development looks at how well-rounded she is, and whether or not she’s shown change over time. Flaws, what I consider to be my most important category, looks at whether or not she is displayed as perfect or whether she actively makes mistakes and screws up.

This week I’ll be looking at Nyota Uhura from the recent remakes of the Star Trek franchise, which has a new movie due out sometime next year.

Diversity: 4/5

While the recent casting isn’t Nichelle Nichols, the casting team didn’t throw diversity in race out the window when they cast her younger counterpart. They chose a mixed-race actress by the name of Zoe Saldana, who has both black and Hispanic roots. As for the other elements of diversity, Uhura is in a canon relationship with a man and we don’t know much of her background, so it’s hard to judge her class. Despite this, I give her a four, mainly because it’s incredibly rare to see a mixed-race actress in a high budget film.

Development: 4/5

Uhura starts out as the cool, controlled woman without any interest in Kirk’s flirting, which honestly, isn’t a great start. We’ve seen that role way too many times, and I’m sure many in the audience expected her to eventually fall for Kirk’s charms. Luckily, she doesn’t follow this trend as the films go on. She proves capable and intelligent on the Enterprise with her language skills, earning herself a position on the bridge. She’s not uncompromising, as the opener would have us believe, for despite her initial distaste for Kirk, when he comes to her with vital information, she does everything in her power to assist him. We also see her softer side: when she comforts Spock about the loss of his planet and family. The film definitely shows her changing nature in regards to Kirk and the Enterprise crew, so I give her a four.

Flaws: 3/5

While Uhura may be incredibly smart, with knowledge of many languages other crew members can’t grasp, that doesn’t make her invincible. She doesn’t show many of her flaws in the first film, whose focus isn’t on her, but the second definitely highlights them. She gets angry at Spock over his willingness to follow protocols, even if it means his death, which leads to a cold-shoulder competition that badly affects the state of the crew and its functionality. Additionally, while trying to go undercover and speak to an alien race, her bluff attempts fail and nearly get her killed. While she has some intriguing flaws in the second film, I give her a three because we have to wait so long to see them.

About The Author

Just an English nerd drowning in words. English major with a Film and Media Studies minor. Aspiring to write many novels, films, television shows, and video games. Avid reviewer of movies, theatrical productions, videogames and pretty much anything you can possibly review.