Black Trek Part 12: Whoopi Goldberg
"There’s a black lady on TV, and she ain’t no maid!," exclaimed young Whoopi Goldberg (then Caryn Elaine Johnson) when she saw Nichelle Nichols on Star Trek for the first time. 22 years later, Goldberg stepped into the role of Guinan, the manager of Ten Forward and supreme listener to the news of crew members, happy, sad, and in between, on Star Trek: The Next Generation. She also appeared in the seventh and tenth movies, Generations (for which she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films) and Nemesis.
Born in New York, New York on 13 November 1955, Goldberg studied acting under Uta Hagen at the HB Studio. She made her screen debut in Citizen: I’m Not Losing My Mind, I’m Giving It Away (with Darryl Henriques). Her first Academy Award nomination came due to her performance in The Color Purple which also earned nominations for Trek behind-the-scenes crew workers Linda DeScenna (set design) and Fred Steiner (music adaptor). While she did not win the Oscar, Golberg did win a Golden Globe, an Imagine Award, and a National Board of Review award for her role in The Color Purple, quickly followed by an Emmy nomination for a guest appearance in Moonlighting.
In many of the biggest feature films for Goldberg (Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Fatal Beauty, Homer and Eddie, Ghost, Eddie, Soapdish, Made in America, Loaded Weapon 1, Ghosts of Mississippi, Rat Race, The Hollywood Sign, and The Lion King) she worked heavily with Star Trek actors, producers, and crew people.
In television, Goldberg worked with LeVar Burton apart from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the environmentally friendly animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers, in which Goldberg played Gaia, the Spirit of the Earth, and Burton played Kwame, the Planeteer to whom she gave the Earth Ring. More recently, Goldberg voiced the title character in Burton’s animated film Blizzard.
Whoopi Golberg, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams received an Emmy Award nomination for hosting Comic Relief VII. During one of the Comic Relief specials, the senior officers of the Enterprise-D find a VHS cassette of the special and note that Guinan resembles Whoopi Goldberg.
Goldberg hosted the Academy Award ceremonies in 1994 and 1996 receiving Emmy Award nominations both times in the Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program category. She also hosted the Tony Awards in 2008 when Patrick Stewart was nominated for Macbeth.
Goldberg herself was nominated for and won the Tony Award as producer of Thoroughly Modern Millie. She also won a Daytime Emmy Award for Beyond Tara: The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel, and was nominated for Whoopi: Back to Broadway - The 20th Anniversary.
Other great performances (and this is certainly not all of them) by Whoopi Goldberg can be found in Boys on the Side, The Spook Show (alternate title: Whoopi Goldberg), A Different World, Sister Act, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, For Colored Girls, and the almost forgotten action-packed, witty, creative, explosive cop dinosaur flick Theodore Rex.
RANDOM TRIVIA: Whoopi Golberg was used as a reference on Dwight Schultz’s application to be considered for the role of Lieutenant Reginald Barclay (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, and Star Trek: First Contact).
The coolest female Dude to ever Dude.