CBS 'Star Trek' female lead: How show has pushed inclusiveness in past

Showrunner Bryan Fuller says the upcoming CBS All Access 'Trek' series will have a female protagonist with what is probably 'a level of diversity.' This would continue the pattern of inclusiveness 'Trek' has shown in the past.

Kimberley French/Paramount Pictures/AP
'Star Trek Beyond,' the newest 'Trek' film, stars Sofia Boutella (l.) and Simon Pegg (r.).

“Star Trek” fans were given more details on what to expect from the upcoming CBS take on the show, which will air on the TV network’s streaming service, CBS All Access.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller, who has also worked on series such as NBC’s “Hannibal” and the upcoming Starz series “American Gods,” said during the Television Critics Association press tour that the new show will have a female protagonist and that the main character will be a lieutenant commander.

Mr. Fuller said that this female protagonist will probably have a “level of diversity.” If the protagonist is a woman of color, that will mark the first time a “Trek” show has had a woman of color as a main character. Previously, African-American actor Avery Brooks portrayed Captain Benjamin Sisko on the 1990s “Trek” TV series “Deep Space Nine.” 

“’Star Trek’ started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast,” Fuller said, according to Entertainment Weekly. (The original “Trek” series stars Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura.) “…Our lead of the show is going to be subject of that same level of who’s the best actor and also what can we say about diversity on the show. We haven’t cast her yet, so we don’t know what level of diversity she will be, but that’s forefront in our minds.” 

Fuller also said there will be a gay character on the program. “Absolutely,” he said. 

Of including alien characters, he said, “We wanted to paint a picture of Star Fleet that’s indicative of encountering people who are much more different than we are,” according to Vanity Fair.

“Trek” has often been noted for its inclusiveness, with Ms. Nichols starring in the original series and actor Walter Koenig portraying Russian Pavel Chekov on the original show as the Cold War continued in real life.

In the world of the show, races that started out as enemies like the Borg would often later be seen as part of crews. For example, the Klingon species starts as antagonists for “Trek” characters, but the 1990s TV series “Star Trek: The Next Generation” includes Klingon character Worf serving as Lieutenant Commander. In addition, the Borg character Seven of Nine becomes a member of the crew in the “Star Trek” series “Star Trek: Voyager.”

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