“Star Trek: Discovery” is boldly going where no show has gone before. This new wrinkle in the famous Star Trek franchise features a number of firsts: the first female diverse lead in the franchise, first Asian female captain, first female officers and first openly gay officer. Sonequa Martin-Green stars as Michal Burnham and this is the first time ever that the main character of the show is not a captain.
Sonequa talked with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about her acting career, this groundbreaking show and the challenges associated with her character.
DJ Sixsmith: Why did you want to be an actress?
Sonequa Martin-Green: Oh, good question. I actually thought I was going to be a psychologist. I auditioned for a play in 5th grade and I got the lead. In the rehearsal, I felt it come down from heaven, like this is what I’m supposed to do with my life. I’ve always been fascinated by human behavior, psychology, the human mind and the human soul. I found out later in life that I was acting when I was very little in front of people as a toddler and I wasn’t even aware of it.
DS: You are the first female diverse lead in the “Star Trek” franchise. What does that mean to you?
SMG: It means everything because I’m a black actor and a female actor. First and foremost, I want to choose good stories. It’s humbling to be a part of such an enduring franchise like “Star Trek” and to be in the company of people who believe in change and are passionate about it. It’s not just that this show has the first black female lead, it also has the first Asian female captain and the first female first officer and the first openly gay officer. There’s a lot of firsts with our iteration and every iteration has done that. To be a part of this is encouraging and challenging. It challenges me and it challenges all of us to step up and be the change that we are telling in the story.
DS: You mentioned the challenges associated with the show. What has been the biggest challenge of playing your character Michal Burnham?
SMG: I would say it’s a very rich, multilayered and complex character. I have to thank the writers for that. It’s complicated to be human and Vulcan because there are combating philosophies in your mind. It’s a culture shock experience to be from one place and have to be acculturated to another place. Something that I wasn’t prepared for was how fast the show moves and the breadth of material that I had to learn so quickly.
DS: What can viewers expect when the show returns this Sunday, January 7th?
SMG: They can expect to see a good episode, that’s for sure. It’s very exciting because this episode will kickoff the second half of the season where we go where we have not gone before. They can expect to be at the edge of their seats.
“Star Trek: Discovery” returners Sunday, January 7th at 8:30pm EST/PST on CBS All Access.