The original “Star Trek” series premiered on TV more than 50 years ago. The science fiction show went on to become one of the most iconic franchises in history, earning billions of dollars. The latest reboot, “Star Trek: Discovery,” features a black woman in the lead – a first for the franchise.
Actress Sonequa Martin-Green stars as first officer Michael Burnham. She joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss her character’s origins and how the series upholds “Star Trek’s” long-standing commitment to inclusion and diversity.
Set a decade before the first “Star Trek” series, the show has an expansive, cinematic look, new characters, new missions and a new ship.
“I think the craftsmanship of this show is through the roof. I am floored by everyone’s artistry,” Martin-Green said.
Martin-Green played Sasha in the AMC hit series, “The Walking Dead.” In “Star Trek: Discovery” she plays the adopted human sister of perhaps the franchise’s most beloved character – Spock.
After flashing Spock’s signature salute and universal Trekkie sign, she said, “I appreciate how courageous this story is and I appreciate how they’ve woven me into that family because Spock is an institution.”
“Star Trek” has a history of promoting inclusion and diversity. In a recent panel, Martin-Green suggested the series shows a universe that could provide some insights into how we can solve some of the problems in today’s world.
“Obviously stories can be so healing. Art is so healing. And I think when you have a story that shows a picture of a utopian future – it’s been this way the entire time this is the legacy of ‘Star Trek’ – and I think that when you can tap into that, when you can key into that, I think that having a vision of it can help you actualize it,” she said.
Despite the franchise’s commitment to inclusion, when Martin-Green was announced as the lead, some fans weren’t happy.
“It was a bit hurtful but I’m a black woman that was raised in the South. So it did not surprise me. I’m used to that, unfortunately,” she said. “On one end I wasn’t surprised, on the other end I sort of was because diversity and universality are pillars of ‘Star Trek.’ That is the legacy of it.”
The show made history in 1968 when it showed the first interracial kiss on television.
“‘Star Trek’ has always gone boldly, it always has. That’s been the essence of it,” Martin-Green said.
Asked if “Star Trek: Discovery” continues in that trend, she said, “We’re upholding the legacy but again taking that next step forward because here I am, the first black female lead. We’ve got the first Asian female captain, we’ve got the first woman captain – with a woman first officer.”
“So the naysayers – I think it’s completely antithetical. If you say you’re a longtime Trek fan, it doesn’t make sense to me.”
A special broadcast premiere of “Star Trek: Discovery” will air September 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET, 7:30 p.m. CT on CBS. After premiere night, all new episodes will be available on CBS All Access.