20 legendary Black science fiction actors who rocked the genre

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Jada Pinkett Smith

So far, Jada Pinkett Smith has appeared in only two science fiction movies, both in the Matrix trilogy. However, for all that she’s effectively dipper her toes into the genre, her appearance as Niobe in the movies is so impressive that we can’t help but include it here.

Niobe is a human from Zion, the real-life city housing a group of rebellious humans that don’t want to go under the spell of the machines currently running the Earth.

She’s the captain of the Logos, one of the smallest hovercrafts in the entire rebel fleet. Don’t let that fool you into thinking she or her crew is no big deal, though. The Logos is one of the most maneuverable crafts available to the humans, thanks in no small part to Niobe’s command. Within the world of the film, she’s a formidable pilot, maneuvering craft through tight spaces and in jaw-dropping flips.

Within the virtual reality world of the Matrix, Niobe is also an incredibly skilled martial artist. Pinkett Smith didn’t skimp on the training, clearly. She was learning actual kung fu moves and working out like crazy, all while nursing her then-infant daughter Willow. “I’m getting pretty good at kung fu,” she said at the time, presumably with a no-big-deal sort of shrug that played down the hard work and many hours it took to get it all down.

While we’re at it, we should reserve some acclaim for the look of Niobe. Between the snakeskin cyber-punk outfits and the bantu knots as a nod to African and African-American hairstyles, Pinkett Smith looks ultra cool, too.