Nichelle Nichols by Chris Haston/NBC Nichelle Nichols by Chris Haston/NBC

First Sulu, now Uhura. Once again, Heroes has boldly gone back to classic Star Trek for a cool casting coup: Sci-fi icon Nichelle Nichols will join fellow Trekker George Takei as a recurring player on the hit NBC series.

Showing up in the season's fourth episode, Nichols will play Nana, a New Orleans doyenne whose daughter died during Hurricane Katrina. "Nana is tough and undaunted and - like the blues - she just keeps rising to the occasion," Nichols says. The character, who is in dire financial straits, has moved back into her once-flooded home, where she cares for her two grandchildren. One of them, new hero Monica ( The Nine's Dana Davis), is an avenging angel intent on bringing justice to the corruption-plagued Big Easy. Nana is also a great-aunt to Micah, the junior hero played by series regular Noah Gray-Cabey. "Micah is sent to New Orleans to live with the family," Nichols says. "It's a quite marvelous, magical story, with wonderful things emerging." Does Nana have a superpower? "Well, that remains to be seen, now doesn't it?" coos Nichols.

The actress confirmed her much-rumored Heroes gig at a recent Trek convention in Las Vegas, where she reports that "the entire room went insane. I felt like I was Oprah giving out cars!" - Reporting by Michael Logan

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