Sonequa Martin-Green on Why Representation Matters in Star Trek
One of Star Trek’s lasting legacies is as a progressive voice for underrepresented groups on screen, in films and television. Now Sonequa Martin-Green, star of Discovery, has offered one of the best takes yet why representation on screen matters, particularly to Star Trek.
Comicbook.com brings us an interview that Martin-Green did recently with StarTrek.com at the Paley Center’s Discovery exhibit, “Fight for the Future”. In the interview, she discusses why Star Trek storytelling is like a campfire, and she also discusses her time as a student at the University of Alabama.
But a big part of the interview was Martin-Green’s views on Star Trek’s legacy of diversity. She said, “There have been many times over the course of this series where I have talked about all the versions of diversity we have on our show. We’re certainly trying to forward the legacy, trying to be a mirror to society today, which is what every iteration has done.”
She pays special attention to how important representation is, in particular. She said, “Representation leads to actualization. It just does. You do what you see. You have to see something in order to do it, and I feel the fact that I’m in this position, the fact that God put me in this position to show [people] what’s possible is so important to me because this character is a genius. That’s something that it's important to see black women being. And also someone that is integral to the common goal, and also someone that’s so sacrificial at the same time. So I feel like seeing disenfranchised groups be smart, useful, and sacrificial, its huge. It's huge.”
Comicbook.com points out that her comments are similar to what LeVar Burton - The Next Generation’s Geordi LaForge - has said of his time on Star Trek: “Star Trek was one of the very few representations of the future I encountered as a kid where people who looked like me were represented. So in an era in America where it was rare to see black people on TV except on the nightly news [...] Star Trek was huge.”