Britney Fans Now on a Mission to Help Star Trek Actress

Friend, supporters fear abuse in conservatorship of Nichelle Nichols, 89, who played Nyota Uhura
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2022 12:58 PM CST
#FreeBritney Movement Now Backing a Star Trek Legend
Nichelle Nichols, a cast member in the original television series "Star Trek," poses at the premiere of the new television series "Star Trek: Discovery" on Sept. 19, 2017, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Two months after Britney Spears was freed from her conservatorship, #FreeBritney supporters continue their shouts of "Hey hey, ho ho, the conservatorship has got to go!" This time, they're speaking up in the case of 89-year-old Nichelle Nichols, one of the first Black women to hold a leading role on television with her portrayal of Nyota Uhura on Star Trek: The Original Series. Nichols, who suffers from dementia, was placed under a conservatorship in 2018, giving her only child control of her life and finances. As BuzzFeed News reports, Kyle Johnson argued his mother's condition made her susceptible to exploitation in filing for legal guardianship, which gives him the power to "decide who she sees and where she lives."

Nichols' friend, actor-producer Angelique Fawcette, claims abuse in the case. She says Nichols was managing her affairs with help from an assistant before Johnson sold her Los Angeles home and moved her to New Mexico against her wishes. She cites a 2019 audio recording obtained by WGCL in which Nichols protests against the conservatorship while screaming at Johnson to "get your hands off of me." "You're trying to get rid of me," she cries. Additionally, in a September 2020 deposition, a former court-appointed conservator of the estate, BJ Hawkins, claimed Johnson made demands "not in the best financial interest or other interest of the conservatee," threatened to hurt Hawkins, and tried to keep Nichols from appearing in court.

More than a dozen supporters shouted "Free Nichelle Nichols!" and "Isolation is abuse!" outside the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles on Monday afternoon during a hearing in the case. "The conservatee's family supports everything that my client is doing," Johnson's attorney told the court. The judge ultimately decided Fawcette "did not have standing to lodge her complaints," per BuzzFeed. But "we're going to do whatever we can to shed light on the issue and to make sure that there's lasting change for not just Britney, not just Nichelle but everyone who is trapped in this corrupt system," #FreeBritneyLA organizer Kevin Wu tells the outlet. (Read more conservatorship stories.)

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