When Star Trek returns to the small screen, the iconic, long-running saga will again be making history.
Star Trek: Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green opened up to CBS This Morning about making history as the first black woman to play the lead in a Star Trek series, how she navigated the backlash that came with news of her casting, and ways in which the show continues the “diversity and universality” of Gene Roddenberry's beloved creation.
Martin-Green recently expressed her sentiments about being part of a show that is "'the solution' to today's problems," reaffirming that belief to CBS This Morning. “That seems like a lofty thing to say, right? But I think that it can be very profound, because obviously stories can be so healing, art is so healing," she said. "And I think that 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 when you can tap into that, when you can key into that, I think that having a vision of that can help you actualize it. I really do.”
Despite the inclusivity and forward-thinking that has long been ingrained within Star Trek's DNA, The Walking Dead alum was on the receiving end of some nasty hate when it was learned she would be leading the series' small screen return. "It was, to be honest," Martin-Green said when asked if the resistance was hurtful. "It was a bit hurtful, but I’m a black woman that was raised in the South. So it did not surprise me because I’m used to that, unfortunately. But it's a double sided coin, because 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.”
“Star Trek has always gone boldly, it always has, that's been the essence of it,” Martin-Green added, pointing to the shared kiss between Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) in a 1968 episode of Star Trek — the first interracial kiss on television. It's the kind of progress, says the star, that the newest iteration of the franchise will continue.
“We do that because we’re upholding the legacy, but again, taking that next step forward," Martin-Green said. "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… [we've got] the Kelpien [Starfleet Science Officer Lt. Saru, played by Doug Jones] — he’s the first of his kind, we’re introducing his species on our show — we’ve got the first openly gay officer in Star Fleet on a Star Trek show. So we’re doing it, we’re continuing it, and that's how you do it."
Star Trek: Discovery, the newest revival of the long-running sci-fi saga, is set a decade before the original Star Trek television show and will air a special broadcast premiere September 24 at 8:30/7:30 CT on CBS. Following the televised premiere, all new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery will be available on CBS All Access.