Sonequa Martin-Green cast as 'Star Trek' protagonist as franchise diversity continues

The 'Walking Dead' actress will reportedly play the main character on the upcoming CBS All Access show 'Star Trek: Discovery.' The casting is the latest way the 'Trek' franchise has practiced inclusion.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Sonequa Martin-Green attends the Live Special Edition of 'Talking Dead' at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Oct. 23, 2016, in Los Angeles. The actress will reportedly star on the upcoming CBS All Access series 'Star Trek: Discovery.'

Actress Sonequa Martin-Green will portray the protagonist in CBS’s upcoming “Star Trek” series “Star Trek: Discovery,” continuing the franchise’s past diversity. 

Ms. Martin-Green, who stars on the massively successful AMC show “The Walking Dead,” will reportedly portray a lieutenant commander on the U.S.S. Discovery. Unlike past “Trek” shows, the upcoming CBS program will not center on the captain.

Meanwhile, Michelle Yeoh of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” will portray a starship captain. Actors including Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp have also been cast as crew members, and actors including Chris Obi have signed on to play Klingons.

Bryan Fuller, who created or worked on programs including the ABC show "Pushing Daisies" and NBC's "Hannibal," co-created "Discovery" and was set to be the showrunner, but has since left that role. However, Mr. Fuller had spoken in the past about his wishes for the protagonist, who will now be played by African-American actress Martin-Green. "'Star Trek' started with a wonderful expression of diversity in its cast," Fuller told the press earlier this year. " …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."

Including racial diversity and having women in central roles has been part of “Trek” from the very beginning, with actress Nichelle Nichols portraying Lieutenant Uhura on the original 1960s TV show and later films, and actor George Takei playing Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu.

Later “Trek” shows had an African-American captain (Avery Brooks) and a female one (Kate Mulgrew). 

Many critics are now praising those behind “Discovery” for its casting decisions so far. "'Star Trek' has always been about acceptance and inclusivity," Slashfilm writer Angie Han wrote of the latest casting news. "It just makes sense that this latest iteration of the franchise would reflect those themes."

Meanwhile, Moviepilot writer Sam Plank wrote of recent casting announcements, "'Star Trek: Discovery' will showcase the kind of diversity we would hope for in the future."

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