A milestone of sorts occurred in the third-season finale of Star Trek: Discovery in January, concluding with Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) finally completing her journey to become captain of the USS Discovery while the previous captain, Saru (Doug Jones), returned to his home planet of Kaminar.
In an interview with THR Presents, powered by Vision Media, the actress says she was told that Burnham would become captain when she first signed onto the show in 2016, which meant she had to obscure her character’s destiny across an endless number of interviews and fan events over the years.
“I didn’t know when exactly that was going to happen when we started, but I knew that I was going to earn it — as Burnham — and I was excited to come from that angle where you get to see someone slip and trip and fall and learn and grow,” she says. “People have been a little disagreeable about it over the years and been like, ‘Why aren’t you captain?’ and it’s like, ‘You know, it’s compelling storytelling and hopefully one day it’ll happen.’”
The move also meant Martin-Green became Star Trek‘s first Black female captain to lead her own series — a first across 55 years of Trek movies and TV shows.
“The fact that I get to champion this kind of diversity and be solidified in the legacy of the franchise as a Black woman, it means what it means to each person who takes it into their hearts,” she says. “The impact is exponential because one person is affected one way and another person is affected another way. The fact that we’ll get a Black woman doing this franchise that has been huge in our society for decades, I’m just so proud to be at the heart of it. I want to give it justice and give my all because of that. I just so appreciate that I can contribute to this, however small or big it may be. And I’m excited for the continued growth.”
As for what’s next, Paradise teased that one fan-favorite element from The Original Series could make an eventual appearance. “I’m almost hesitant to say,” she says. “I love Tribbles. I really do.”
Watch the above video for the whole conversation. This THR Presents is brought to you by Paramount+ Originals; additional Q&As and other supplementary content can be viewed at THRPresents.HollywoodReporter.com.