Sonequa Martin-Green is the first woman of color to lead a Star Trek television series, playing Michael Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All Access. She recently spoke to Emmy Magazine about how a Star Trek binge took her from being a non-Trekkie to having a newfound appreciate what the franchise stands for.
Even before taking her deep dive into the Star Trek universe, Martin-green knew that being cast in Discovery was a momentous event.
"When I knew I was definitely coming on board, pun intended, I flipped out," Martin-Green said. "There were tears and a few freak-out sessions. I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all because Star Trek is such an institution in modern society. I allowed those feelings to pass, and then I said, 'Okay, I'm ready to rock.'"
At that point, Martin-Green knew that she had to get to know Star Trek intimately rather than just by reputation.
"I hadn't seen anything from the canon," she admitted. "I remember the episodes being on the TV and going, 'Oh, that's Star Trek.' But I never sat down and watched them. I said, 'I've got to see everything there is to see. I tried and got as far as I could until I had to stop and pay attention to the story at hand. But I'm still working on it.
"There are these moments where you zoom out and say, 'What am I becoming a part of?' The first time I did the Vulcan salute and approached my station on the bridge, I was filled to the brim with honor."
The honor of being the first woman of color to lead Star Trek, a franchise that is already known for embracing a culture of inclusivity and diversity, is not lost on Martin-Green.
"As a woman of color — raised in the South, no less — I know intimately the dearth of those images," she says. "And I know how visualization leads to actualization. Having a black woman at the helm becomes a bridge that connects what was to what is now, to what can be."
Martin-Green’s interview is part of CBS’ Emmy Consideration push for Star Trek: Discovery. CBS is specifically asking for Martin-Green to be considered for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama.
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The first season of Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream in its entirety on CBS All Access in the United States, through CraveTV in Canada, and through Netflix in other international markets. Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is now filming in Toronto.