‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Star Breaks Silence on Criticism of Show’s Diverse Cast

There’s been a rather ugly strain of criticism of Star Trek: Discovery online and it goes like this: The upcoming CBS All Access show’s cast is too diverse for some of the franchise’s longtime fans. The term “white genocide” has been bandied about. Original series star George Takei has even gotten involved to defend the new show. But the Discovery cast themselves haven’t commented on the matter — until now.

EW asked Discovery star Sonequa Martin-Green — the first black woman to lead a Trek cast — about the complaints. What would she say to these self-declared fans, if anything?

“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,” Martin-Green 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. I would encourage them to look past their opinions and social conditioning and key into what we’re doing here — which is telling a story about humanity that will hopefully bring us all together.”

Indeed, The Original Series, in particular, was considered ultra progressive, especially for 1966 — the show’s bridge crew included a Russian character (ensign Chekov played by Walter Koenig), a Japanese man (Lt. Sulu played by Takei), a black woman (Lt. Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols) and a rotation of others, all working together with mutual respect. The show featured TV’s first interracial kiss and frequently tackled issues of social justice in allegorical ways. Over the decades since then, the franchise has continued to present Gene Roddenberry’s utopian multicultural vision of humans and other species overcoming their differences to solve problems. It’s kind of the whole idea behind the show.

“And it’s hard to understand and appreciate Star Trek if you don’t understand and appreciate that,” Martin-Green continued. “It’s one of the foundational principles of Star Trek and I feel if you miss that then you miss the legacy itself. 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, though obviously there’s been other forms of diversity that have been innovated by Trek. I feel like we’re taking another step forward, which I think all stories should do. We should go boldly where nobody has gone before and stay true to that.”

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SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly, James Hibberd