Since the USS Discovery arrived in Star Trek's 32nd century, one threat has consistently loomed large over the post-Burn universe. The Emerald Chain is an alliance of Orions and Andorians who control much of the post-Burn economy through a series of mercantile exchanges positioned throughout the galaxy. Michael Burnham and Cleveland "Book" Booker visited one in the season three premiere. Later, the Federation was on the brink of open war with the chain, leading Burnham and Georgiou to go on a rogue mission to rescue Book from an Emerald Chain work camp, a move that cost Burnham her position as Discovery's First Officer.
In last week's episode, "The Sanctuary," viewers finally met the boss at the top of the Emerald Chain. Janet Kidder plays Osyraa, an Orion who has put her people on top for the first time possibly ever, and she doesn't plan on letting them get knocked off any time soon. ComicBook.com had the opportunity to talk to Kidder about playing Osyraa in Star Trek: Discovery. You can see what she had to say below.
What was your experience with Star Trek prior to joining Star Trek: Discovery? Were you a fan, or was coming to this a learning experience for you?
Janet Kidder: I watched Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. And then, I didn't do any other trekking at all until this experience. So I came in feeling particularly green to the world and have now left feeling much closer to the whole thing. But I didn't know much about the Trek universe going in. No.
Is feeling "green: a pun on your Orion character?
No. And I just realized I said that. No. I was feeling particularly totally new to the whole thing. So I had a lot to learn and got to meet all these wonderful, wonderful people and learn about this world.prevnext
A New Level
You've done some sci-fi and sci-fi adjacent work before, but I feel like Discovery, from what I know of it, is on a different scale than a lot of those shows. Was this a different kind of experience for you from those shows?
Absolutely. It sort of feels like it's on a level all of its own. And then, perhaps Star Trek shows feel like that. You just feel like you're a part of such an enormous family. And it's like a whole world that they have created with all these shows over the past decade. And so, it's quite an incredible thing to be a part of. Everybody on there loves it. So you immediately feel like you're part of something incredibly positive. Everyone was so welcoming and so supportive. And meeting Jonathan Frakes and working with him and working with all the actors on the show. He's just very warm and fuzzy and makes you feel very excited and like you're part of something special.prevnext
As mentioned, you play a green character. What's it like undergoing your transformation into the Orion? There's the makeup factor, but more than that too. There are the nails and the costuming and the jewelry. Can you talk a little bit about what it was like donning all that and going through what looks like a very transformative process?
I actually loved it. I find that when you've put wardrobe on, generally speaking, it helps me to bring a character to life, so elevating that by absolutely like 1000% and wearing a new face, gave me such a sense of freedom as an actor. But I had to get used to working in that space. And I think there's possibly going to be a little bit of a transformation throughout the rest of the show in terms of we would refine the details of the face. But I just loved getting in that kit every day. It really made it so easy for me to breathe the character into life. Which is basically created once I've got all that stuff on. Really gave me a sense of who she was. So I felt very fortunate to be able to do something so relatively extreme, I guess, in terms of an actor and donning a character. So it was wonderful. It was just so much fun.prevnext
A Star Trek Villain
You're playing a character who is a villain, and Star Trek doesn't often do straight villains, but they tend to memorable when they do show up. When you first got a handle on the character, were there any classic villains that popped into mind as inspiration? Or did you go to a different place when you were looking to find her voice?
When I first auditioned for the character, I didn't realize it was for Star Trek. And so, I had basically thought about a couple of very powerful female actresses that I really enjoy their performances and I've sourced that in the audition. And once I got the role and discovered who this woman or this Orion was, I just built on that myself. I didn't really look to anyone in particular. I knew that I wanted her to have more depth than the layers and not just be a typical nasty villain. So hopefully those subtleties will we'll show in later episodes, but I got to come up with her on my own.prevnext
Can you tell us a bit more about what motivates Osyraa?
The best for her people. How to create a powerful and a strong empire for the race that was typically enslaved. I think that her motivation is not born out of evilness, but it is born out of wanting to be at the helm of something that is real and is different. It's changing, evolving, and changing in this world of sci-fi. She wants to create something that's going to remain. That's going to make her people safe and that she sits at the table with all the important people in this world. So yeah. I think it's about just striving to support her people. And I'm not saying that she makes the best choices in doing that. She's a tough cookie, but she definitely feels that she's doing it for the best for her people.prevnext
Staying on Top
In your first episode, I thought one of the most interesting exchanges was when Saru pointed out to her, "Hey, Orions used to be enslaved themselves." And she responded by saying, basically, "Yeah, well, now we're on top." Is that the direction her arc is going to go? Is that angle going to be explored a little more?
That's where we find her and her Emerald Chain, managing to be at the top, possibly for the first time since this world was created. We'll have to wait and see what happens, but she definitely feels like she's brought her people to a new level and that she is respecting her ancestors by doing this.prevnext
Things to Come
Can you offer any hints or teases about what fans can expect from Osyraa in the upcoming episodes?
They can just definitely look forward to seeing more of her and possibly she puts on her business shoes later on, and you can see her actually stepping up and trying to put into action what she feels is motivating her. She'll be back. She'll be around. I think that she's a wonderful character and I just hope that everyone enjoys seeing her as much as I enjoyed playing her. And they'll see lots of fun stuff from her in later episodes.prev