Date of publishing: 8th
Nichelle Nichols guest stars in NBC's Emmy nominated
ensemble drama series "Heroes" as "Nana,"
the grandmother of "Monica Dawson." Nichelle
is most widely known for her role on "Star Trek"
(1966) as "Uhura", which was one of the
first times that an African American actress was portrayed
in a non-stereotypical role. Nichols' role broke the
stereotype barrier among African American actresses.
Nichols was one of the first actresses that portrayed
a character on a TV show and science fiction series
that was treated fairly like other races, and to all
of Star Trek fans, the TV series and films that followed
set the standard for multiculturalism.
Dana Davis stars in NBC’s Emmy nominated ensemble
drama series “Heroes” as Monica, a young
woman with newfound special abilities who would give
up everything to help the people around her. “Heroes”
follows the lives of ordinary people who discover
they possess extraordinary abilities. On television,
Davis was a series regular on the critically acclaimed
series “The Nine.” She has also appeared
in substantial guest star roles on hit series such
as “CSI: Miami,” “Cold Case,”
“Gilmore Girls” and a recurring role on
“Boston Public” as Marie Ronning. Other
television credits include recurring roles on “The
O.C,” “Point Pleasant” and “Veronica
Mars;” guest star roles on “Malcolm in
the Middle” and “Joan of Arcadia.”
An accomplished singer and musician, Davis’s
talents are showcased in Disney's all musical episode
of “That's So Raven” playing Raven’s
archrival Jasmine, the Theater Queen.
seen a lot of family in the series so far and then
you come on as the grandmother character. So could
you just talk about the Importance of family?
Nichols: Well that’s a very good question
because family is very important in Heroes and especially
a New Orleans family. Well I’m feeling that
it’s very similar to my own family. I come from
a large family and we’re always at each other’s
back, you know, there for one another. And it’s
a very loving family. And a very diverse family. And
I find the same thing here. And I have these two young
grandchildren who bring out - I’m a strong woman
who’s gone through an awful lot and has lost
her daughter. And now is providing a home for these
two beautiful grandchildren. And that’s the
focus of my life now because we’ve gone through
Katrina. We’ve survived and to establish a really
strong and safe environment for them - for these beautiful
children whom I’m very proud of. I think Dana
could probably add as much more to it from her perspective
as I. I hope that I’ve hit on it the way they
see it, too. But maybe she could add some more. What
do you think, Dana?
Dana Davis: Well yeah, definitely.
Just what Nichelle said. I think that Heroes really
is about family. I mean, sure it’s this surreal
story and it’s about people with powers. But
the story behind that story is a story of family.
We saw it all through Season One. And then in Season
Two with Monica joining the cast, it’s like
this girl who dropped out of college after her mother
died to take care of her family, to work this job.
And it’s really just like the central point
in Heroes is that it’s really important.
powers are actually very cool. So she’s able
to have the ability to go and watch something and
then be able to do it. So how much training have you
had to do or put into the show to learn all these
different kinds of things that she can do?
Dana Davis: Oh my God. You know,
I was kind of thrown into it. I showed up for work
and they were like, “guess what Dana, we’re
doing this”. And so it was really hard
on me because I came from it out of shape. I mean,
I’m an actor, you know? And I don’t even
work out. My idea of working out is going upstairs
in my apartment. And so I had to do a lot of physical
things right away, like the double-dutching and doing
a lot of the karate. And I spent a lot of my weeks
really, really sore at first. And so I sort of have
gotten into it now and I have a stunt double who works
with me. And we’re starting to work out. They’re
starting with some karate training. So at first I
was just like blindly, just like here you go. But
now it’s gotten a little bit easier and the
preparation is a little bit more.
Nichelle Nichols: Don’t believe
it. She’s in beautiful shape. But I can appreciate
that she’s sore.
Dana Davis: No, looks can be deceiving. So I’m
not in good shape.
And then, Nichelle, how did
you get involved in this show? Did they come to you?
Did you just audition like you normally would do?
Nichelle Nichols: Well, it was
a magical moment I’d say, in a point in time
that just stood still. I was passing through. I was
doing a film in Denver called The Torturer and I came
to LA to pass through, pick up some more clothes and
go to another film.
And my agent said "oh this is great. Since
you’re here, you can" - and I said,
"but I’m only going to be here two
days. One day to pack and one day to leave".
And he says "one of those days they’ve
asked for you to come out and interview for this role".
And I said, "I can’t go. I can’t
go". He says, "you have to go".
He’d never said anything like that and he said
"I’m sending you the (sides) and it’s
for Heroes". And I’d only seen a couple
of episodes of Heroes because I’ve been traveling
so much. But I knew that I really liked it. And so
I said "oh, well okay". And I thought
they were talking about like a day, you know, a guest
appearance for a day. And so I came out to the studio
and there sat all these men and women. And then I
went "uh-oh, the last time I saw this many
people out I got Star Trek". And I’m
laughing to myself. And of course, it was for a recurring
role. They asked me if they could film me, and if
I would do this scene. And I had looked at the scene
kind of and I had gotten it the night before. And
this was early in the morning, so I looked at the
scene and I thought I felt her. And they said that
day they were delighted. But I heard that before and
I said "thank you, thank you so much".
And I left and they said "thank you so much".
And they were laughing and enjoying me. And I left
and got on a plane for Phoenix to do another movie
-- This Bitter Earth. And so it was quite wonderful
when I get a call saying "surprise"
someone, not even affiliated with me had tracked me
down and said "isn’t this incredible?
You’re going to be on Heroes". And
I called my agent and said people are telling me I’m
going to be on Heroes. He said "how would
they know"? I said "‘they’re
Trekkers, they know everything". And so
that’s almost the way I found out. He says,
"but hold onto your hat. We don’t know
yet. And he called me in a few hours and said ‘that’s
true. You’re on". And what it was,
and I guess – "well when do I shoot?"
And they said "well we don’t know".
And he - and then they realized I thought it was just
a one-time guest shot. And I said "because
I’ll have to get off from the picture to come
in". And he said "no sweetheart,
you have a recurring role. You’re joining the
cast". I was all "‘oh my
God". And I was delighted. So that was a
wonderful, wonderful moment.
seems that the powers are genetic since there’s
a lot of family members who have powers. And since
D.L. had it, Monica and Micah all have powers, is
it safe to assume you have a power? And if so, can
you tell us yet?
Nichelle Nichols: I couldn’t
tell you if I knew. We very jealousy guard what is
coming. That’s because it’s kind of wonderful
for the audience to discover it in the moment. But
I don’t know. Dana might know.
Dana Davis: I know nothing.
Nichelle Nichols: I think Dana
- I don’t know if Dana knew when she had powers.
Dana Davis: I did. I came into
it knowing what my power was, yeah.
Nichols: And that it was developing. All
that I keep hearing is we will see what we will see.
So that remains to be seen. A little haunting remark
from the producers and executive producers, and, you
know, people who would or should know. But maybe they
just haven’t decided yet or maybe they’re
planning it and they really don’t want anyone
to know, including me.
how excited are you to be working with Nichelle? And
how familiar were you with her work, and with her
importance in television in terms of breaking that
whole race barrier that they did back in the sixties
with the original Star Trek?
Dana Davis: Wow, I hate to admit
this, but I’d like to keep my game face on.
But when I found out that Nichelle was joining the
cast, one of the producers told me. He was like ‘guess
who’s playing Nana’? And I was like "who",
you know? And he goes "Nichelle Nichols".
And I was like "shut up". And I
remember I punched him. I was like "shut
up". I was so excited and I called like
my manager. I ca- and they were like "no
way". Everyone was so excited. My mom was
more excited that I was working with Nichelle than
that I was on Heroes. She was like "will
you please tell Nichelle that I said hi".
And I’m like mom, "I can’t just
say hey guess what, my mom said hi". But
it was so cool. It was surreal. I mean she has so
much grace and beauty, and I always joke that I’m
totally upstaged by her because we’ll like walk
into a room and people will be like ‘Nichelle,’
you know? And it’s like "hi I’m
here, guys". But it’s great. You know,
it’s a real treat. I’m a big fan and I
don’t get star struck that often so it’s
cool to be in her presence.
Nichelle Nichols: Oh that is beautiful.
Well you know, the moment I walked on the set and
met Dana, I adopted her. I mean, she’s such
a lovely lady and she’s so poised. And I loved
her from the moment and I said "yeah this
is my granddaughter".
Dana Davis: Aw, I always say I’m
jealous of Monica because if I could pick a grandma,
it would be Nichelle.
Nichelle Nichols: I am your Nana
- Nana Two.
Dana Davis: I’ll take that.
I’ll take that.
Nichelle, how much more of you will we see on the
show? How many episodes are you signed for? And the
general impression is that you will be part of that
adult generation of heroes. Can we - I know you can’t
give away too much, but can we at least assume that’s
where you’re heading?
Nichelle Nichols: I - the second
part of being - as part of the adult, I couldn’t
be part of anything else but, could I? But I would
be honored. Right now it’s a recurring role
and it keeps growing. And I’m liking it very,
many have you done so far and how many more do you
know you’re doing?
Nichelle Nichols: I don’t
know how many more I’m doing because it, as
I said, it continues to extend and I hope it continues
to extend and extend, and extend. But I, on the next
episode that you’ll see me--I think you’ve
seen me three times: my introduction and a couple
of scenes. And those scenes keep growing and the next
one will be a flashback of four months ago. So those
things are interesting. I’m just interested
in watching it and letting them know what my schedule
is so that I can come and do their bidding and become
Nana. It’s an absolutely lovely match.
Great. And I do have to ask
a quick Star Trek follow-up question, which is what
do you make of the idea that they are revamping the
franchise with a new film? And have you spoken to
Zoe Saldana, who is going to be playing Uhura? And
if they called you, would you want to be there?
Nichelle Nichols: I haven’t
spoken with Zoe. I think it’s - to answer the
first part of your question, I think it’s just
terrific. And to know that Gene’s legacy shall
not only live in what was there when he was here,
but that it’s going on in that same image and
like. And I think that in J.J. Abrams’ hands,
it’s there. All the respect and all of the wonderful
characteristics that made Star Trek what it was will
be honored, but I think he will also take it to even
new heights as Gene would have loved. I know that
he’s up in Heaven going like "Right
on!" So I’m delighted and I’m
looking forward to meeting Zoe and to meeting with
J.J. I talked with him and he was a delightful man,
although I had met him before. It was just a joy to
know that he’s taking the helm for Star Trek.
I’d say as Trekkers that said Star Trek lives
and they can just say now Star Trek lives on and on.
I was wondering if you had your character’s
power what would you look at once and really want
Dana Davis: I would want to join
the NBA. I’ve always wanted to slam dunk and
I’ve always wanted to impress the boys in my
family and stuff like that. So I got a little nephew,
too, and he loves NBA. And I’m fascinated with
their athletic ability, so I’d definitely get
maybe they’ll let you do that. And Nichelle,
what if they do give you a power, what are you kind
of hoping you’re going to get there - the power?
Nichelle Nichols: I’m going
to keep that under my belt.
because they might give you your wish, huh?
Nichelle Nichols: I don’t
want to jinx it.
And one thing for Dana, your musical abilities are
amazing. So are they going to let you use your musical
abilities, do you think, in future?
Dana Davis: They’re talking
it may happen?
Dana Davis: You never know. Yeah,
they are talking about it so we’ll see.
for Nichelle, I was wondering - it seems like Heroes
is becoming a place for the Star Trek cast to come
back to. It had George Takei and now you. I was just
wondering, do you think William Shatner and Leonard
Nimoy are watching this and they might join as well?
Nichelle Nichols: I have no idea.
And oddly enough, like I said, I was traveling so
much that I was not aware that George had joined the
cast, until just before I went on, just before I signed
on. I thought that was just amazing. And of course,
then I got the first season box of DVDs. And it was
so much fun to watch.
And actually for Dana: have
you used anything from your character Felicia Jones
to help you with Monica?
Dana Davis: Well, Felicia and Monica
are so different. Felicia was just like so burdened,
depressed, and stressed out. Monica is a lot of fun.
She’s got this really upbeat, funny personality
and I’m really enjoying playing her. It’s
a really big contrast from Felicia and Monica.
I understand the familial relationship. Nana is actually
Micah’s great grandmother, right, because we
met the grandmother in Season One.
Nichelle Nichols: No, she’s
Micah’s Great Aunt.
both of you, is there anything that you’ve had
in your life that operates the way that Monica’s
power does where you’ve had something that you
observed and just intuitively picked up?
Dana Davis: Oh.
Nichelle Nichols: Dana?
Dana Davis: Nichelle? Not really.
I think if I see someone crying, I cry, too. But that’s
Nichelle Nichols: You’re
at an impasse.
Dana Davis: Exactly.
Nichelle Nichols: Well, there have
been phenomenas in my family and so I’ve grown
up just thinking that what people refer to as powers
are natural extension of our lives, of our abilities,
and are hidden somewhere in that 90% of our brain
that even Einstein hadn’t used yet. So I believe
in a higher power and if there’s a higher power
I’m part of that. And then I’m part of
that, I’m part of some powers that I don’t
even know that I have. And those that I do know I
have, and acknowledge.
Heroes has a rather interesting way of working in
that they’re shooting sometimes three episodes
at once, meaning that you can work with three different
directors in one day. How is that for you?
Dana Davis: Oh, it was - when I
first came into the show, I started on Episode 4 on
like a Tuesday. And then Wednesday I was on Episode
5. Thursday I was back on Episode 4. It was crazy.
I’d never done that before and really it’s
very, very stressful for the actor. But you kind of
get used to it. Like right now we’re on Episode
11 and I’ve gotten used to it. At first it was
really hard, but now I kind of enjoy it. It’s
fun. There’s never a dull moment on the set.
Nichelle Nichols: I can attest
to that. And I’m really delighted to hear that
Dana did have that difficulty because when I first
came in and we were shooting one scene, and then it’s
four months earlier and I’m not sure what took
place and where, I was really at sea. I immediately
ask questions. And I think they thought I knew more
than I did about the series, and I should be adjusting.
But it was very stressful. Once I understood it, it’s
like ‘that’s wonderful’. It’s
like magic. So I just jumped from Magic 1 to Magic
4, to Magic 3 and back to 1 -- and whatever it is.
That’s wonderful. I learned to adjust - make
that adjustment and now it’s fun.
obviously you’re able to copy physical things
that you see. But do you know or can you say does
that also translate to like if you see someone use
their powers, much like Peter or somebody, are you
able to copy those as well? Or is it just simply physical
things like being able to copy a fighting style or
something that your powers are limited to?
Dana Davis: I think right now my
powers - well you know how Heroes’ powers have
a way of evolving throughout the season. So right
now my power is that whatever I see I can do, a physical
ability. It’s limited to physical ability. I
think the producers of the show, they already have
that element with Peter and with Sylar, you know,
the supernatural who can do everything. And I think
they wanted to capitalize on the amazing abilities
of human beings. They’re so - I mean, you can
just watch the Olympics. Human beings are so amazing
and I think they wanted to bring that element in a
supernatural way to Heroes with Monica.
Being that your powers are
very physical and you’re a fighter and such,
can we expect to see any kind of knockdown, drag out
fight scenes with other characters, like maybe Kristin
Bell’s character or something in the future?
Dana Davis: You’re going
to see a lot. Monica gets pretty tough. As far as
will she be with, you know, any other heroes in some
cool fights - we can only hope. I really can’t
say right now. But I can say that Monica, you will
see a lot of her fighting. It gets pretty exciting,
so I can say that.
what’s it like working on a regular TV show
again as opposed to like back when you worked on the
original Star Trek series? Is it very similar? Have
a lot of things changed? What is it like being a regular
cast member on a regular TV show again?
Nichelle Nichols: Well, on Heroes,
it’s quite different because of the timed elements
can change. You can four months back, as I was saying.
You can do flashbacks and you have to adjust to what
your emotion was and who you were. And Star Trek,
we were going forth in peaceful exploration and meeting
any difficulties head on that we might have. But I
find such a correlation between the two in terms of
the human dignity within us. And that is inspiring.
And no matter if there is an evil situation, there
is a counter good. And I’m finding the adjustment
from one to the other is very natural.
Zachary Quinto who plays Sylar and I’m sure
you know will be playing the young Mr. Spock in the
upcoming Star Trek movie, has he come to talk to you,
kind of pick your brain about Star Trek or anything
like that get any tips for his new upcoming role in
Nichelle Nichols: No. I believe
Zach has talked with - I know that he has talked with
Leonard and I just saw him the other day at a premiere,
or an awards show. And he is very, very excited. And
he himself is a Trekker and you can imagine how excited
he is to be chosen to play Spock, the young Spock.
And I gave him my best wishes. And when I first came
on the show, all I had seen of Zach were some pictures
in the makeup room. And I said I wasn’t sure
about that actor, as I was seeing him in a picture,
in a photo - which is totally different, totally of
the role he’s playing in Heroes.
And the moment I met him, I said - I saw him in one
of the episodes. I said "oh my God, what
an actor". And then when I met him in person,
I said this is the young Spock. So they did a brilliant
job in casting him.
chance of you having a cameo role in the new Star
Nichelle Nichols: Wouldn’t
that be nice?
Nichelle Nichols: I will be blasting
it all over the world if and when that should happen.
I think that would be so wonderful.
both of you, I’m wondering if it’s sort
of emotionally wrenching playing these two survivors
of Hurricane Katrina? What is that experience like?
Nichelle Nichols: Oh.
Davis: Well I’ll have to say in the
beginning it was because when I did my research and
I watched some of the documentaries about Katrina.
I’m the kind of person, like I said before,
that if I see someone else crying, I cry too. I take
on that emotion. So sometimes I run from it. And when
I got this part, I couldn’t run from it anymore.
And so, you know, I watched a lot of the documentaries
and it was just - it made it real to me. I mean, because
Heroes is so surreal and it’s fun, bringing
in this element of reality - it was hard for me at
first. And so I just kind of keep that with me. I
find a way to put it in a box so I can play this upbeat,
fun character. But I think it makes the character
Nichelle Nichols: I must say that
that’s a beautiful correlation to what you feel
with the Katrina. I watched Katrina on television
like a junkie. I couldn’t turn it off. And I
was at the crying stage daily, especially with the
little children and the people losing their homes,
and those who succumb to that pain and those watching
those who stood tall and through thick and thin. And
I thought, my God that - this is real - this is reality
of what can happen. And I’m in the fire zone
a few miles away and though my home is safe, and the
surrounding areas. It brought home - it brings home
just how delicate your existence can be at any given
time. And to be able to play this role and to have
this given circumstance already set out for you, I
could relate to her so powerfully and relate to her
house, you know. And how she has stood tall and diffident.
And it either makes you or breaks you. And I’ve
decided that I could see that Nana was not broken,
injured but not broken. And she has a reason to go
on to stand tall and to be a strong woman for her
granddaughter and grandson.
Nichelle, you had said earlier that some members of
your family have exhibited sort of interesting abilities
or phenomena. Could you just give us an example of
Nichelle Nichols: Well my mother
was a genuine psychic. She never went into business
for it, but she could interpret dreams. She dreamed
and other things, and sensory things. If I walked
into the house and something was bothering me, and
I was always the kind to shelter my loved ones from
my problems. I walked out, my mother would say okay
sit down and tell me what’s the matter. I’d
burst out crying. I’d walk in the house. "Hi
I’m home. Guess what I did today?"
And she says, "sit down - tell me what’s
the problem". And she knew before I knew
everything. She knew when people were in trouble and
she knew when people were pregnant before they did
sometimes. And I grew up with this as a natural thing.
It was not a phenomena to me until I grew up and people
reacted to it. And I realized that this is something
that not everyone has. And some people’s are
more dynamic than others. But I grew up as –
with phenomena’s and appreciations for it.
many of the characters on Heroes, they accept their
powers begrudgingly, like they’re cursed instead
of blessed. Monica seems to enjoy her powers so far.
I think that’s kind of refreshing. What do you
think about that? And also, if you were in a position
like that in your real life, are you the type of person
who would view it as a blessing or as a curse?
Nichelle Nichols: I don’t
think anything God given is a curse. It’s a
matter of how we, but some things that happen to us
that we, powers if you have, it’s startling
when you discover you have it and it’s a little
disconcerting when you realize that you’re different
from other people or other people view you as differently.
But I think that Monica did a wonderful job in being
amazed by hers, a little startled by it, you know,
and then embraced it as ‘bring it on’.
She’s a young beautiful, wise woman and here
she’s got this, you know, this power to do this
and for now it’s got to be fun. Monica, yeah?
Aside from getting sore muscles?
Davis: Yea absolutely. I think in the beginning
the producers sat down with me and they said just
what you said, they said Dana, all the heroes, you
know, most of the heroes on the show are burdened
by their powers and we want to bring, you know, back
the excitement of like when Masi in the beginning
was so, you know, yatta! and so excited about his
powers they wanted to bring that back. Bring it back
a little bit with Monica and so it is refreshing,
it’s fun because I’ve done a lot of drama
in my career and I’ve played a lot of burdened
sad characters, so it’s, it’s fun for
me to play Monica.
And you asked me about if I had a superpower, I’d
be the one who’d be like on the news, like ‘guess
what everybody, I have a superpower and I would announce
it to the world because it would be so awesome’.
But yeah, I’m really excited to play somebody
who is excited about it, so.
how well did you know the show before this opportunity
came up? Were you a loyal viewer since the very beginning?
Dana Davis: I was a loyal viewer,
yes. I actually watched Heroes before anyone else.
I got the pilot, because you know actors we get these,
we get huge stacks of pilots from our agents. And
I watched it over the summertime and I was just like,
oh my gosh. And I remember calling my friends and
being like, I have the newest hit. And they’re
like really, and so they came over and we watched
the DVD that I had and it was like a ritual, it was
a like a Monday night ritual with Heroes. So it was
just like so surreal for me to join the cast, you
know what I mean? Something I’m a huge fan of
know that since there hasn’t been like a military
type surge to save post-Katrina New Orleans they could
really use a hero like Monica. Now I realize your
story might ultimately lead the characters in a completely
different place but what do you think of the idea
of a Monica and some of her super friends and family
cleaning up New Orleans?
Dana Davis: Wow. I think you’re
right, you’re right there. You’re right
there with what the producers want after the direction
their going. I think that bringing the Katrina thing
into Heroes that’s not trying to be political,
I think what they’re trying to do is just restore
a little bit of hope to a community that’s lost
a lot, and yes it’s surreal, yes it’s
make-believe but it restores a little bit of hope
to people. I mean, you know, they’re watching
it and they’re like, hey that’s us on
TV. And I’ve said before that once I watched
a documentary where they asked like Spike Lee, they
said "‘Hey, do you think Katrina, do
you think that New Orleans can be rebuilt?"
And he said, "I don’t know."
And I said that broke my heart because more people
need to say, "yes, New Orleans can be rebuilt".
I think that it starts with little things like this.
Restoring a little bit of hope bit by bit.
Some people have said it’s kind of exploitative
for the show to have characters set in New Orleans
and I was wondering what you guys make of that?
Nichelle Nichols: I think that’s
silly. That’s as if to deny that it happened
or that what happened, happened and that and is a
great tragedy, that when it happens to one person
in the United States, if you’re a citizen, it
happens to us all. And to acknowledge it and to make
it part of something called Heroes is to do honor,
and the honor that could be done even more in the
re-building of that beautiful city and that beautiful
state of New Orleans is to show how it can be done
and it can be done just like the President came to
California when Malibu is burning, to give assistance.
That kind of immediate attention to New Orleans that
has saved and would have saved, and still can, as
to what it takes a lot of lives and a lot of pain,
and can rebuild New Orleans. What are you going to
do, drop it off of the map?
Dana Davis: Yea, I think she said
it. She said everything; I mean that’s exactly
Nichelle Nichols: It’s too
beautiful, this country is too beautiful to write
off one place as can’t be saved. That’s
just whoever thinks that...I’m an optimist and
a rebuilder so that’s my answer.
We got a glimpse of an (Isaac
Comic Book) with who is St. Joan and I was wondering
Dana if that means that Monica might actually take
up a costume and start fighting crime?
Dana Davis: Wow, I don’t
even know what I can say. But I can say that that’s
a good guess. I can say that. But I think that’s
all I can say.
sort of spoilers can you give us?. Can you just throw
us a bone somewhere about what’s going on with
both your characters in the next couple episodes say?
Dana Davis: David [Gardner]? What
can we say; I mean it’s hard. David Gardner:
I think in the next of episodes though you can certainly
talk about exploring your powers with Micah, with
the character with Noah, and that you’re going
to be crossing, you’re going to be meeting some
new heroes. You’re going to be crossing over
with other characters in some surprising ways.
Dana Davis: Yea well I think, and
also Monica is going to go a place that no NBC hero
has gone before. It’s going to be really fun
to see Monica’s story unfold because it’s
something that’s not been done on Heroes yet,
so it’ll be very fun.
do you mean?
Dana Davis: Oh gosh.
Nichelle Nichols: Wait and see.
How could you possibly want to know in advance?
Dana Davis: I wish I could say.
I think that’s as much as I can say. You know,
we’re like sworn to secrecy so we’re not,
we like for the fans to find out as it still plays,
sometimes spoilers get out but we try to keep as much
secret as possible. But yea.
can you talk about working with Noah and the actor
who plays Damon?
Dana Davis: Oh man Noah is like,
I love that kid. Like he is like the little brother
I never got. I love him to death. I mean I have a
little nephew who’s 12, and so on the set Noah
and I, it’s just like we’re just having
fun and it’s interesting because I’m the
kind of actor who when I get into a role I sort of
really get into it and a lot of my characters have
been kind of sad and burdened and so now that I’m
playing this fun loving character on the set, me and
Noah are just like laughing, talking, we’re
getting in so much trouble. The other day we just
got yelled at by the director because we’re
laughing and joking around and he’s like "‘Dana,
Noah, please". And we’re just, it’s
so fun to work with him. I think I’m like, you
know, 12 years old at heart because me and Noah, he’s
like my best buddy now and the little actor who plays
(Damon), his name is Carlon, I just love him. We’ll
sit at the table on the set and we’ll play with
cars and we’ll have arm wrestling fights and
people are like, hey "Dana how old are you".
So, I have a lot of fun working with those kids. I
love them to death.
I was wondering if you have any thoughts for what
you would like to see Uhura do in the new Star Trek
Nichelle Nichols: I do have some
but I don’t want to discuss them yet because
I think I am going to meet with Zoe and let her pick
my brain if she wants to, but I would like to hold
that in abeyance to see what she, because she’s
such a lovely actress and creative actress herself.
I’d love to wait and see what she brings to
it so that I can understand, so that I can get to
see what who and what Uhura was like and what the
qualities were that Uhura, Nyota Uhura had that qualified
her to go on that first five-year mission where no
man or woman had gone before. I think she might bring
some interesting new qualities to the character.
I know earlier you were mentioning
a little bit about how they may incorporate your musical
abilities into the show, but what about off the show,
are you still finding time to play music or are you
just super busy like training for the fight scenes
and things like that?
Dana Davis: I am. I am really,
really busy with the show and I haven’t had
a lot of time to devote to anything else. It’s
funny because before I joined the cast of Heroes I
was an insomniac. I have suffered from insomnia for
like so long. Now that I’m on the show seriously
I sleep like a baby. I’m so tired all the time.
the lviola or anything help you unwind after a day
of work normally when you do have time for it?
Dana Davis: Not lately. I haven’t
been able to devote any time to music. It’s
unfortunate but hopefully I’ll get back to it.
what have you seen, have you seen any similarities
between die hard Heroes fans and between maybe die
Nichelle Nichols: That’s
a good question because die-hard Trekker fans are
die-hard Heroes fans. I discovered when shortly after
within days that I had been cast as Nana and had not
reported yet, so it was still almost thought to be
like a secret, it was still a surprise and of course
Trekkers had heard the rumor and here I am in Las
Vegas before 30,000 people and a couple of weeks later
in Atlanta before 40,000 people and when I had gotten
permission to say, yes I am, I can confirm the rumor
that I will be joining cast of Heroes, that place
came apart, like you absolutely could not believe.
It was thunderous. And so the approval of it and the
joy that their Star Trek star was joining in the cast
of the stars of Heroes was like amazing and it went
on for a good four or five minutes. Oh there was screaming
and yelling and "Yes!" you know.
So I was off and running to a good start you know.
obviously the Heroes story lines are well kept secrets.
Was it ever like that on Star Trek keeping surprises
for the audience?
Nichelle Nichols: Actually, no
not so much as surprise but we were working five days
a week and we never had much time in those first weeks
of putting the show on because we had no audience
yet as we started out all together. And when the show
went on and we began to get this fan mail, so amazing,
we were all excited and then the mail started coming
in asking us questions of this and we’ll read
that and were we going, what was going to happen,
we were still, of course, busy filming. But we didn’t
have that sense of keeping it all secret as this –
because that was not the focus as such as now. But
episode after episode was with the entire cast and
guest actors so it was more the adventure each time
that was about to take place that our fans sat and
waited to find out what’s going on, it could
happen this week.
each of you besides each other, who have you enjoyed
having scenes with so far?
Nichelle Nichols: Well I have enjoyed
Micah and Damon so much. They are the exact opposite
of characters of what they’re playing. Like
Damon plays this little demon that can’t stand
his cousin, you know. He wants to do him in and then
the moment, and he’s so good at it, you believe
he’s this little monster, and the moment they
say cut the two of them are laughing and falling into
each others arms and doing, and wrestling and playing
games and then he says "okay, let’s
first team up" and then scene is there,
bang they’re right back together. And Micah
is, as Dana has said, is a phenomenal artist, a pianist,
his music is amazing and I thought he was playing
the player piano and that was him. And so when I said
"isn’t it wonderful that we have another
musician in the house" it was a fact and
that he really was a musician in the house. His charm,
both of them, are so captivating. I just enjoy them
so much. And of course, I’m glad you said besides
Dana. Because I’ve just never really worked
with anyone quite so poised and talented and beautiful
and I’m really, and young, and I’m really,
really proud to be working with her.
Dana, same question.
Dana Davis: To go further with
what Nichelle said about little Noah and Carlon, who
plays Damon, their relationship is so adorable. I
mean the other day I caught them like making a secret
handshake and I was just like, "oh this is
so cute". These little boys are so cute.
But I’ve also had a chance to work with Sendhil
who plays Mohinder. Oh what an amazing, amazing guy.
I mean you know Sendhil’s this beautiful [guy],
like he looks like he should be a GQ model or something
and you’d think he’d be like the bling,
bling Hollywood-type guy, but really he’s just
a sweet family man with this heart of gold who talks
about his family and his child. I mean, just never
have I met such down to earth people. I thought I
was going to go into this, you know, with these stars
and these, you know, these big heads that you hear
about in Hollywood, but nothing could be further from
Nichelle Nichols: Yes I agree with
that too. I haven’t met the whole cast but some
who were on the lots came into make-up and they’d
walk up to me and grab me and hug me and say "oh,
it is so good to have you joining us", like
Hayden and just any of them that I’ve met. I’m
looking forward to meeting the rest of them and really
enjoying the ones that I’m working with.
are each of you looking forward to having scenes with
in upcoming episodes?
Nichelle Nichols: Anybody who will
have me. Any of them on there because I’ve been
to awards shows and see how beautiful they are with
one another and how they have treated me and so I
can only hope that they might come to New Orleans
or I might come up there where they are.
Dana Davis: Yeah, I agree. It’s
like in a sense you feel sometimes kind of isolated
from the cast because the stories kind of stand on
their own so well.
Nichelle Nichols: Yes.
Dana Davis: So I look forward to
the moments when we all work together more often.
it’ll be fun. Even when we’re just in
the trailers it’s a blast, we’re laughing
Nichelle Nichols: Exactly.
Dana Davis: …you know, we’re
in the make-up trailer. I just can’t wait for
that to be brought into the work element so.
Dana, did you always want to be an actress while you
were growing up or did you have other professions
Davis: No, you know what’s funny is
my mom took me to the theater for the first time when
I was six years old. I was just amazed by it, and
I just said, "hey Mom can I do this too?"
So she signed me up for little theater classes and
I remember my first audition for a play when I was
seven years old was for The Thankful Elf. I remember
all the little kids getting up, auditioning for The
Thankful Elf and I’m sitting there like, "‘no,
The Thankful Elf would not say it like that".
And I just knew, I knew who the Thankful Elf was.
For my first audition I booked the lead as the Thankful
Elf and so I’ve been acting ever since. I used
to ask my Mom when I was ten years old, can we move
to LA, please, please. I would look in the Chicago
Times because I’m from the Midwest and I would
look for auditions and I’d be like, ‘Mom
there’s an audition in Chicago, can you take
me?’ She’d be like, no you got to wait,
wait, because we just didn’t have the financial
resources for me to do that. And so I waited until
I was 18. I went college hunting when I was 16. I
was on a mission. Like I knew what I wanted to do
when I was just a little girl.
for you, that’s great.
Nichelle Nichols: That’s
beautiful. I didn’t know you were from the Midwest
and I’m from Chicago myself.
Dana Davis: Oh wow, yeah two hours
outside. I’m actually from Iowa, but like two
hours outside of Chicago.
Nichelle Nichols: And grew up in
musical theater there. Yeah it’s lovely.
what has made a career in this industry rewarding
for you so far would you say?
Nichelle Nichols: Accomplishment.
The most rewarding thing about it for me is being
able to make my living doing the one thing or the
things that I love the most and would probably do
for free. I would have done it anyway. That creative
little theater in Chicago with my little playmates
and wrote musicals and plays and of course always
wrote myself as the star. Directors like that or I’ll
say my Dad’s got a barn, my Mom can sew and
I grew up making costumes and dreaming of Broadway.
And a funny thing happened to me on my way to theater
and Star Trek interrupted my career and changed my
life and I’ve never looked back. I’ve
never been more happy in my life.
I’d like to ask a little bit about Lady Magdalene.
How was your experience as an executive producer,
writer, singer of that particular project?
Nichelle Nichols: Oh that was one
of the most incredible experiences because I was in
as a producer and executive producer, [also] who was
the writer and director and also acted and to work
side-by-side and to make this with these actors and
to make these things happen and wearing hats that
I’d never worn before, that I hadn’t always
worn as a professional. [That] was very challenging.
It was at times very frustrating and to bring out
this character of Lady Magdalene whose the owner of
a brothel and not make her into the stereotypical
broad, mean, you know, tawdry person that is still
in a profession that does not exactly gets accolades,
but to bring out the woman in her and her soft side
and her strong side and tough side and what is happening
to her. And then all of the things happening around
that’s going through her brothel was a real
challenge because I knew nothing about it and it was
really a challenge and one that I’m still working
at with the funding and the distributors. It was,
and learning editing and so forth, and being involved
in all the aspects of it with Neil Schulman. The producer
and director was really something and it’s an
experience that I treasure.
Dana, what could you tell us about Prom Night?
Davis: Well Prom Night is just a slasher
movie. It’s a teenage slasher movie set with
the backdrop of like the most awesome prom Hollywood
style you can imagine. I mean there’s a slasher
on the loose, there’s blood. It’s just
fun. It’s just pure fun. I got a chance to see
a rough cut and it turned out pretty good. I’m
really proud of it, you know, even though it is what
it is but I had a lot of fun doing it.
Nichelle Nichols: Dana, when do
I get to see it?
Dana Davis: It comes out next year
but we’ll work something out.
lot of African American kids are being raised by grandparents
due to divorce or problems in the family with either
parent and I wonder if both of you really feel gratified
to be able to present a positive example of the grandmom
and grandkids relationship on TV.
Nichelle Nichols: I feel rather
honored to play it. I never thought of myself as growing
up to be, you know, in my career as lasting long enough
to have a wonderful role as a grandmother. Because
grandmothers are always, you know, the old lady. This
is a new type of grandmother that’s portrayed
but is the type of grandmothers that have always been,
especially the ones who have had the opportunity to
raise their grandchildren and to see them flourish.
I never got to know my grandparents on either side,
my mother’s or my father’s, but I saw
my mother and father be great-grandparents to all
of their children’s offspring and I really base
Nana in honor of my mother, Lisha.
do you have something to say about that?
Dana Davis: Yeah, I just think
it’s beautiful what Heroes does because sometimes
on TV they give this image of you know, the perfect
little family with the white picket fence and the
mom and the dad and everything’s so great. Well,
Heroes shows you more of a reality, just like with
the first season I was so happy to see a little bi-racial
kid with a white mother because that’s reality,
I mean that is so real. I think that, just like you
said, it’s real that grandparents are raising
their grandchildren, our sisters are having to raise
little brothers. I mean, reality, it’s not so
sad you know, we can show something that’s real
and not, you know, make people upset so.
the thing that we’re going to find out about
Monica have something to do with her personal life?
Dana Davis: Yes.
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