Sonequa Martin-Green Says Representation Matters On ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ + Fan Expo Panel Announced

Today we catch up with some news about Star Trek: Discovery, starting off with a few Canadian bits.

Sonequa sees Star Trek parallel at iHeartRadio Awards in Toronto

Last night, Sonequa Martin-Green was at the iHeart Radio MMVA Awards in Toronto, broadcast on CTV. While on the red carpet, she was asked by CTV what it was like for her to make history as the first woman of color to lead a Star Trek series, to which she said:

It makes me cry. It’s incredible. It is such a deep honor and I feel that stories have a duty to do what we are doing, which Star Trek has always done. And so I just consider it such an honor and blessing and God is good.

Sonequa Martin-Green on the red carpet at the iHeartRadio MMVA Awards in Toronto, August 26th

On stage, Martin-Green drew a parallel between Star Trek and the city of Toronto where the show is produced. When asked what she had discovered about the city, saying:

I love Toronto. It is really similar to New York City. It is a fantastic city. It is a perfect example of the diverse world we are creating on our show. Star Trek has a legacy of inclusivity. And every day we play characters that are not just from different planets, but also different sexual orientations, different genders, and different races. And it’s not just science fiction, right? This is the world that we live in. And loving each other, as we are, is how we win. I look out at all of you beautiful, multi-cultural crowd and now, more than anything, representation matters.

Sonequa Martin-Green with host Awkwafina at the iHeartRadio MMVA Awards in Toronto on August 26th

Discovery headed to Fan Expo

Speaking of things happening in Canada, the Space Channel has announced they will be holding a Star Trek: Discovery panel at this weekend’s Fan Expo Canada in Toronto. On the panel will be Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham), Doug Jones (Saru), Anthony Rapp (Paul Stamets), Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly), Shazad Latif (Voq/Ash Tyler), and Anson Mount (Christopher Pike). It will take place on Saturday, September 1 at 3:00 pm ET in Room 106.

Promo for Discovery panel at Fan Expo Canada 2018

Frakes back on set

In case you missed it, last Thursday Star Trek: The Next Generation star and periodic Discovery director shared one of his signature “Where am I now?” tweets, this time from the bridge of the USS Discovery, alongside Doug Jones as Saru.

As previously reported, Frakes is directing two episodes of Discovery this season. Frakes directed the second episode of Discovery’s season in May. In July Frakes also fit directing an episode of The Orville in between his two stints behind the camera on Discovery.

Torchbearer details revealed

Star Trek: Discovery creature designer Neville Page has been using his Instagram over the last few days to share a lot of details about the Klingon torchbearer suit. Today he put up a slide show which included some behind-the-scenes shots.

The intricate details about this suit go well beyond anything you could have seen on screen in the one episode in which it appeared. Yesterday Page showed that these details even extended to the soles of the boots.

Page also talked about the design process and described even more of the intricate details on the Torchbearer suit last year at Star Trek Las Vegas 2017, which you can read more about in our article.


Star Trek: Discovery is available exclusively in the USA on CBS All Access. It airs in Canada on Space and streams on CraveTV. It is available on Netflix everywhere else.

The first season of Star Trek: Discovery will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 13th.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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Luke Montgomery

I just love Sonequa. And, yes, #RepresentationMatters – As a white guy, I know what it is like to see people that look like me portrayed as the centres of the story, as the hero, as competent, as vital. Things are way too skewed with us white guys being OVER represented – we’re a small fraction of the human population but you see us everywhere and it constructs the myth that we are somehow more relevant and worthy than women and people of colour. As a gay guy, I know what its like to grow up NOT seeing people like you and how that pushes people who are LGBT to the margins and fosters the myth that only straight people exist and that we are somehow not normal. So, knowing what it’s like from both sides of the representation game, I have to 100% agree with Soneque that REPRESENTATION MATTERS :) Go girl!

Representation not only matters, it’s crucial. I hope Star Trek never loses sight of that, even if some of its fans sometimes do.

Gary 8.5

Sonequa is a great Trek ambassador for the 21st century.

I want to be Sonequa when I grow up. 8-)

And Luke, right on! I’ll add that I am well into middle-age, so this creaky old gay guy not only is happy to see a rainbow of colors and a rainbow of rainbows, but I’m also glad to see old geezers like Patrick Stewart coming back for another hurrah in his dotage! :D

Steve

#RepresentationDoesntMatter and I say this as a gay Arab.

Cast on MERIT, not skin colour/gender/orientation. Enough of this forced nonsense.

Jack

Again, who says they didn’t cast on merit?

With your thinking —we wouldn’t have had Sulu, Uhura (or Crusher, Sisko, Janeway…).

It’s a show about a united earth and a starfleet with officers from across the federation. The writing and casting should reflect that.

Casting has often been by type (there’s a reason Kirk wasn’t black or Asian). So what, every type has to read for *every* role? “Casting call…all ages, male or female, any age, any physical type, any ethnicity to play Lt. X?” (Actually, for sone roles, that would be great)

I just don’t get where you’re coming from — a writer can’t decide that a character is gay and Arab, for example? What, the character’s backstory has to depend on whoever they cast for the part?

Or if the best actor happens to be gay and Arab, why can’t I cast him? Why is that a bad thing?

Diversity in this context just means not automatically casting white dudes for every single important role, which was typically done before (and still is). I don’t get why that’s bad.

Trellium G

“I looked at it and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there’s a black lady on television and she ain’t no maid!’ I knew right then and there I could be anything I wanted to be.” – Whoopi Goldberg about seeing Uhura in TOS.

It does matter.

odradek

I watched Patterns of Force, Killing Game and Storm Front and I went screaming through the house, ‘Come here, mum, everybody, come quick, come quick, there are Germans on Star Trek and they ain’t no Nazis. .. oh, scheisse they are. Representation is poison :(

MysticalDigtial

I don’t think you know a damn lick what you are talking about.

odradek

@ MysticalDigtial

No, that YOU can’t understand what I’m talking about does not equal that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Star Trek’s self righteosness and misepresentation, demonization or ridicule of other cultures and it’s AMERICA FIRST attitude right out of “Omega Glory” makes me sick at times.

Danpaine

“E Plebnista”……

odradek

“covfefe” :p

Danpaine

Ha!!

RikersMailbox

I think the issue is story quality. If the quality was good, then the representation would speak for itself. They wouldn’t have to talk about it so much. But because season 1 was less than stellar, they have to speak about what worked, hence the overindulgence on talking about representation. It’s like if an advertisement resulted in a poor ROI, then the ad firm would talk about the creativity of the ad as opposed to the money it generated. Everyone has to find the positive aspects and market the crap out of them.

Danpaine

Exactly, RikersMailbox.

VoR

Ever see the original show? Do some research about Martin Luther King’s conversation with a cast member and his asking her to stay on for representation purposes….

VZX

“Cast on merit?” That does not make sense. A role in a movie, play, etc., is not like a job at the bank, a person’s look is sometimes more important than their acting ability, that’s the way it’s always been. If a black woman is cast, that’s because that’s what the director and producer thought the character should look like: a black woman. So the writer creates the character to be of a certain gender, ethnicity and orientation before it is even cast.
Gene Roddenberry always wanted diverse representation in the crew of the Enterprise, as he thought it was a metaphor for “spaceship Earth.”

DeanH

I totally understand your opinion. But history has shown many times over that social change and perceptions must often be enforced by standard and even laws because if left to our own devices, most of us will only argue against change – kicking and screaming. It is much easier to keep the status quo, especially if a current situation doesn’t negatively affect us. Example, it was a “man’s world” until the women’s movement came along until the 1960s and 70s and many of us males were irritated by it because we had it real good at the top of the social and employment “food chain”. So if Disco wants to continue to portray a cast of diversity (which incidentally is the way the planet really is) then that is fine with me.

Afterburn

This is the biggest BS line people spout about representation. Because in Hollywood they almost never cast based solely on merit. Producers are always looking for a man, a woman, a certain height, weight, or just a unique look.

When a white male lead is cast it’s usually because they are specifically looking for a white male lead. Or are you really telling me that for the past hundred years films and television shows have mostly had white casts because minorities couldn’t act?

How often have studios passed up opportunities for minority actors simply because they weren’t “bankable”? Their way of saying “no one will go see a movie with a minority lead.” Hey weren’t casting based on merit.

Prior to 2015 can you name the biggest movie with a non white lead? I’ll tell you: Independence Day, adjusted for inflation it sits at #41 on the all time list. You know what the next two are on the list? Beverly Hills Cop (46) and Men in Black (89).

Representation matters. Your opinion doesn’t.

Matt

Here’s a thought – want to win someone to your side? Try doing it without telling them their opinion doesn’t matter. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Picard didn’t become the great diplomat that we see by attacking and berating others for their opinions.

“In my experience, communication is a matter of patience and imagination. I would like to believe that these are qualities that we have in sufficient measure.” – Picard

Regardless of your own opinion, regardless what is right or what is wrong, the only way to find common ground is through patience and civil discourse. Start hurling insults, like telling someone their opinion doesn’t matter, and you immediately throw away any chance of coming to a common understanding. This is possible to do, at no personal cost to yourself, and you might find at the end of it all, that you’ve grown in your understanding and personal development.

Luke Montgomery

It is cast on merit. It’s just not only casting straight white guys. Pretty simple. Duh.

You can do both. Star Trek has been doing both since it has existed. It still is.

Olaf

Well, if we were really living in a multi-cultural world where differences did not matter, it wouldn’t be needed. But obviously we don’t (yet)…

Steve

It’s been doing both since it existed. Discovery has swung the pendulum way, way too far away from merit.

Jonboc

…at the very least the powers-that-be should’ve cast a better actress. Her performances…be it her fault, or the director’s fault, or the writer’s fault…. are truly quite stilted and disengaging. Her delivery comes off more like a 3rd grade assignment, read aloud, than believable, natural acting. Added to the sappy pretentiousness this series possseses and Discovery, as a whole, is a cringe-inducing mess.

Dr. Image

Exactly.

Danpaine

I’m hoping SMG loosens up a lot more in season two and delivers a better performance too, and/or they write better material for her. And yes I realize she’s playing someone who was raised on Vulcan. Burnham is just not a terribly likeable character, imo, and hardly one I would consider the main protagonist in the show, at least at this point.

I’m afraid I’m going to like Pike the best this season and will want to see his continuing adventures on the Enterprise instead…

ML31

That is my fear for S2 as well. It totally feels like no one really knows what to do with Burnham.

Afterburn

Same with the reasoning power of Star Trek fans.

Gene

Agree Steve. Let’s have a balance so it’s natural like the older Trek. Its gone too far right now. Itt feels forced.

PaulB

Diverse representation is the only thing this show does right, so at least they have that going for them.

Mel

There is room for improvement in this point, too. In the first season only 2 out of 6 main characters were female. Season 2 will be worse with only 2 female characters out of 7 main characters.

When it comes to a proper amount of female main characters, I don’t see any improvements at all since the 80s. What is it with Star Trek series and their insistence that seemingly more than 33 % female main characters are too many? Everyone involved in making DIS is all the time patting themselves on the shoulder for their representation, but are far away from having a proper gender balance in the cast. Their constant self-praise is just too much considering this.

ML31

Actually, it’s the only thing the producers said they would do in the show and actually followed through on.

PaulB

True, ML31.

JAGT

Oh that Torchbearer suit… 13 seconds of screentime if I’m not mistaken.

Jonboc

That series has too much money and no checks and balances. Stop wasting time and money on things that aren’t visible on screen…just because you want to play. That’s bad business. Try spending the money more responsibly, like maybe hiring GOOD WRITERS? that would be a nice start.

MysticalDigtial

Except it was on screen, that suit in particular has a lot of close up footage during its scene because Michael’s suit if jumping all over it as it scans. I mean, yeah, it’s a little weird to put that much work in, but it was also the first episode, those tend to go crazy with detail and expense.

martin

Seems really expensive waste to create a boot sole like that. There is no way that it didn’t take way more than a day to design and then create the mold for the sole. This isn’t like putting funny labels on doors and such.

I'm Dead Jim

Yeah, with all the effort put into that design, they could have at least had him ominously hanging around the bridge of the ship of the dead, perhaps even as Kol’s bodyguard or right hand or something a la Game of Thrones. They could have even shown the Torchbearer’s boot print on a human chest to get that detail seen. L’Rell could probably use a guard like this in season 2 for extra protection.

DeanH

Looking forward to the panel this weekend at Fan Expo. Hopefully the Disco production crew will also do a last-minute appearance because last year’s production panel was a lot of fun and full of sneak peaks of the sets, ships and uniforms of the upcoming season. As for Toronto it is probably even more diverse than NYC. I remember reading a story back in the 1970s that predicted that Toronto’s demographics would change by the year 2000 and that those with European backgrounds would make up a minority of the city’s population. According to census stats, that indeed happened back in the mid 2000s. Btw, during the mid-1970s, the Pierre Trudeau (yes, Justin’s father) government adopted a Canadian Federal policy to promote “official multiculturalism” – much to the chagrin of many at the time but now something most Canadians don’t even think about.

Cassius John-Adams

You’re correct.

Toronto’s official city slogan is “Diversity Our Strength” Over 50% are foreign born. Star Trek Discovery is being filmed in the right place.

Jack

I just don’t get how Star Trek fans can rail against diversity — ir’s what the show’s about.

raffie

You’re so wrong.

Jack

Actually, I’m not. Watch it. #IDIC

ML31

I think I can safely say that like much art, it is different for different people. So in a sense, neither is wrong.

Danpaine

Yes, representation matters, absolutely. Good writing matters too. Good writing matters MORE, I would argue. Ok super, we have our infinitely diverse cast. Now give us some infinitely excellent Star Trek.

Jack

Agreed. TNG press/marketing made a big deal about having a bald, British Shakesperean actor as captain along with a female doctor, female security guard and Levar Burton. They also spent a fortune on sets/models and effects. And the show was terrible for two seasons. But it found its way. Hopefully Discovery will too.

ML31

Yeah. They have a diverse crew. Wonderful. But the show itself was… Not good. Not the fault of the cast. I’m sure they could have pulled it off very well had their characters been better written and the stories been plotted out better.

MysticalDigtial

I’ll give the plotting comment props, because that was one of the problems with season 1 I felt. I have no idea what characters were badly written though, all seemed pretty much on par for Trek.

ML31

Well, precious few of them (STD characters) were even remotely interesting. But I suppose that is a YMMV thing.

DeanH

Looking forward to a new season free of the confines and the path that Fuller put Disco on in the first half of season one. I fully enjoyed the first season but hopefully Discovery will now be more free to explore strange new worlds and seek out new lifeforms.

Jack

I don’t know how much of that was Fuller, frankly.

Danpaine

I think one of the main differences between Discovery and shows that are actually popular is that on those shows, ie. The Walking Dead(s), Game Of Thrones, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc., the diversity and representation are there in full, but it is an organic inclusion to the story. You don’t see those shows touting how special they are because they’re diverse, they’re simply diverse in a subtle way, not “look at how diverse we are!” The quality of the writing and actors make the stories so compelling and representation compliments it – not the other way around.

Jack

Or maybe you’re just not on fan forums for those shows reading about every obscure interview.

And, also, those shows aren’t a 52-year-old institution, with a need for the press to find an angle so they write about “the firsts.”

Press on Trek has always covered the diversity (see: interracial kiss). Roddenberry played it up a lot (with tales on how he had to fight the studio). There were endless stories about Janeway and Sisko’s “firsts.”

Frankly, I’ve never been a fan of interviews with any Trek actors (or TV stars generally) because they’ve always talked generically about Gene’s vision and the social impact of Trek ad nauseum. There’s not much else — other than “how many hours does the make up take?” To talk about.

But I agree. At this point, enough about the casting and just tell better stories.

werwe

Exactly, it’s very forced in Discovery

MysticalDigtial

Except I don’t recall the story of Discovery every once going into how diverse they were. It was never a story point, they never drew attention to it.

Jack

Exactly. It’s not forced on the show. Some people here just seem annoyed when the black and gay actors talk about it when asked. Why can’t they talk about it when asked?

Yes, It shouldn’t matter — we’re all human — but obviously it does or people here wouldn’t resent it so much.

DeanH

I see your point and it certainly has merit. Often times, the “look at me” message irritates a lot of people and that may be the situation for some with Disco.

Jack

For Pete’s sake, she was asked a specific question about being the first black woman to lead a Star Trek series, what is she supposed to say?

Do we ever accuse Patrick Stewart of being “look at me” when he does press?

ML31

Good point. When the showrunners and cast themselves have to go out and scream about how “diverse” or “woke” they are, then they aren’t doing it right. The producers need to just cast and do what they want to do. If what they did was noteworthy it will come out once the public sees it. Personally, I’ve always felt that art loses a little something when the artist tells everyone specifically what it means.

Jack

What else are they going to talk about? This isn’t new. Every show has a publicity machine. There were endless pointless interviews with most of the Trek casts.

ML31

I guess you are right. They certainly can’t go out and promote the show based on how good it is. But on the other hand, the actors are trained to pretend. I’m sure they could do it with a straight face if they were ordered to.

Jack

And also, this site, by design, covers every obscure interview — so it’s easy to get the perception that they’re screaming about diversity from the rooftops.

In this case, it was an interview for a Toronto awards ceremony where she was asked specifically about being the first black woman to lead a Star Trek show. So, she’s got to answer it.

Jacek

Just please make sure to make it world representation and not US representation.

MysticalDigtial

I’m actually genuinely curious for what exactly are you are asking them to provide.

Jack

TOS had a bunch of characters from different world locations — and only McCoy was specified as being American (although they never say “American”), I believe (although Kirk was later). You could argue that a lot of the leads since have been specifically identified as American (Riker, Sisko, Janeway, Paris, Archer, Tucker…).

Yes, it’s an American show. So this never really bugged me. But if it was supposed to be representing the world (and a federation beyond the world), maybe we’d see fewer characters and extras with WASPy names, the argument has been.

Gary 8.5

If it is world representation then by definition that includes the U.S along with everyone else in the world.

Jacek

Sure, something like 4-5% of humans shown in Star Trek should be American.

odradek

It’s NOT. Star Trek has only one voice behind it and that is America’s voice. And why should it care for other cultures? It is only a tv show not the united nations.

Denny C

That torchbearer suit feels like it echoes (somewhat loudly) Geiger’s Alien.

dayxday

Absolutely agree that representation matters. As a white man, I was unable to be relate to Morpheus in The Matrix or to enjoy the humor of Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. I couldn’t relate at all to the lessons taught on the Cosby Show. Everyone must look like me in order for me to understand and relate to them. I’m glad Hollywood is making it a priority to judge by the color of one’s skin and not the content of their character.

Jack

You’re pointing to the exceptions in casting. And I get it. But following that same argument, Morpheus, Foley and the Huxtables could/should have been white. The PTB could have said, we don’t need a show about a black family because we’re not judging by the colour of skin. So why can’t they just be white?

And for a while, mainstream shows got whiter after the 70s and 80s.

I just don’t see why it bothers people that Martin is a black woman. Which must be the reason we’re seeing everyone here contort themselves into pretzels to decry it.

ML31

“I just don’t see why it bothers people that Martin is a black woman. ”

I’m sure there are still some who get all annoyed with that. But I honestly believe that the large majority don’t really give a crap and just want the show to be better.

MysticalDigtial

You’re ability to see yourself in another character does not nullify the problem that is the lack of representation for other people. I can look at decades of film history and see someone who looks like me in a leading role in pretty much every major franchise. Star Trek is our future. This is why seeing Nichelle Nichols was so important to many black people, as Whoopi Goldberg said when she was a little girl “There’s a colored woman on TV, and she ain’t no maid!” Many people need to think about how people have lived before they tell them that skin color doesn’t matter. I wish it didn’t in all honesty, but sadly in our current society we’re not there yet.

Spock's Half-Brother's Sister's Cousin

Indeed, diversity does matter. This is precisely why Star Trek Discovery needs to hire at least a few decent writers in order to diversify the show’s talent pool. At the very least, they should hire one token good writer to demonstrate their commitment to inclusivity.

Jack

So what’s the deal with Kirsten Beyer? Is her writing any good? I’ve never read her Voyager novels.

I wonder whether part of the problem with Discovery is CBS. The show feels sort of old-school networky, f-bombs aside, in a way the Paramount syndicated stuff (or newer Fox, CW, HBO, Netflix, USA Network stuff (didn’t seem to be.

But yeah, better, fresher, smarter writing is needed.

odradek

They had Kemp Powers who is a playwright, which I find fantastic. His debut play is very will received. I’m not sure but I fear they lost him.

Jack

Hmm, I just looked up Kemp Powers.

So is Menosky gone?

I still think that Discovery fell into a please-the-fans trap.

Luke

Why do people act like this is the only Star Trek series that’s done Diversity and been inclusive lol?

Hell if anything TOS was the most diverse cast (from a production/actor standpoint) not in terms of alien characters.

Danpaine

Exactly. Every show on the air today practices diversity/inclusiveness at some level. Every…one. Time for them to stop blowing their own horn on this.

ML31

For me,me at least, it’s the fact that they ARE blowing their own horn that gets me. Sure, it’s going to get brought up from time to time. But it seems like that is ALL they ever talk about when out promoting the show. It’s almost as if they fear if they don’t other’s won’t. Which is a very bad position to be in. I do recall that DS9 and VOY rarely blew their own horn. When it was brought up it was from others not associated with the show. Generally not producers and actors.

Jack

Jeepers, she was asked a question at a relatively obscure event about being the first black female lead on a Star Trek series. What, she’s not supposed to answer?

And, no — DS9 and Voyager cast did talk about this stuff when asked, you just didn’t see every story on a site like this with a “Diversity” headline to give you a distorted perspective.

Seriously, look up interviews with previous casts, especially the people of colour and women — they got asked this stuff all the time.

ML31

Dude… Relax. I know they get asked from time to time. But too many times we have seen them and producers just bring it up out of thin air. And yes, it did come up from time to time from OTHERS on DS9 and Voy. (More so Voy, however) but the cast and crew rarely just ran to it nearly every time they made a public appearance like the STD people have.

odradek

I’m not even sure if Green really was the lead character in Disc. Lorca was clearly the protagonist of the story. Who was the lead character in Moby Dick Ahab or Ishmael?

Captain Bob

I feel like Avery Brook’s contribution to Star Trek is disrespected sometimes. The only prominent Black Captain in the shows history disappears into the ether never to be seen again. DS9 was important and I wonder where is the love? That First Black lead thing bothered alot of fans including myself.