Sonequa Martin-Green has some words for anybody who disproves of her casting as the first female person of color to lead a “Star Trek” property.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Martin-Green addressed those who had an issue with her being cast in the upcoming CBS show “Star Trek: Discovery.”
“Well, I would encourage them to key into the essence and spirit of ‘Star Trek’ that has made it the legacy it is — and that’s looking across the way to the person sitting in front of you and realizing you are the same, that they are not separate from you, and we are all one,” she said. “That’s something ‘Star Trek’ has always upheld and I completely believe that is why it’s been a mainstay in society in the hearts of so many people for so many decades.”
There have been plenty of criticisms dished out on the internet in regards to not only Martin-Green’s role, but Michelle Yeoh’s casting. Yeoh plays a starship captain while Martin-Green plays her first officer. You don’t have to look further than the YouTube comments on the show’s trailer to find people complaining about “agendas” and “forced diversity.”
But “Star Trek” has been breaking diversity barriers since the original incarnation in 1966. The main cast, which featured a black woman and an Asian-American man, was unheard of at the time. Of course, there’s the moment where Kirk (William Shatner) and Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) shared the first interracial television kiss. The crux of the show has always been about brokering peace among different races and people, and creating scenarios that challenged this notion.
The crew of the Discovery is filled with diverse actors and characters, including a Chinese captain and a gay science officer.
This was an important aspect of the show’s vision, put forth by original show-runner Bryan Fuller. Not only did he want a racially diverse cast but he wanted a female lead.
“There’s something wonderful about the legacy that Nichelle Nichols represents as giving a gift to people who weren’t previously able to see themselves in the future,” Fuller said. “We are going to be continuing that tradition of progressive casting and progressive character work to be an inclusive world.”
“I’m incredibly proud to be the lead of this show and be at the forefront of an iteration of ‘Star Trek’ that’s from the eyes of a black woman that’s never been done before,” Martin-Green continued. “I feel like we’re taking another step forward.”
“And it’s hard to understand and appreciate ‘Star Trek’ if you don’t understand and appreciate that,” she added. “It’s one of the foundational principles of ‘Star Trek’ and I feel if you miss that then you miss the legacy itself.”
Most of the “Discovery” cast has been silent on the issue, but former cast member George Takei has spoken out against what he calls the “trolls.”
“Well you know — today, in this society, we have alien life-forms that we call trolls,” Takei explained on MSNBC. “And these trolls carry on without knowing what they’re talking about and knowing even less about the history of what they’re talking about. And some of these trolls go on to be presidents of nations.”