Official Announcement – Sonequa Martin-Green in “Star Trek Discovery”

Sonequa Martin Green as First Officer Michael Burnham in Star Trek Discovery

CBS Makes an Official Announcement

For the last few months, the Internet has known, in the way that the Internet “knows things”, that Sonequa Martin-Green is slated to become the main protagonist in the upcoming Star Trek Discovery television series by CBS.  Fans have become excited at the prospect of having her as series lead.  But even though the CBS News website itself has previously reported on multiple occasions about Martin-Green’s new gig, there hasn’t actually been an official announcement of that casting decision yet by CBS television.

Until now.

Today CBS finally, officially, announced that Sonequa Martin-Green will take series lead in Star Trek Discovery as First Officer Michael Burnham (aka Number One) of the USS Discovery.  That’s right, the name is “Michael Burnham”.  Is it possible Star Trek will get its first trans-gender character, and a lead none the less?  We reached out to StarTrek.com for confirmation of her name.

Unlike any previous Star Trek television series main protagonist, Burnham will not be the ship’s Captain.  That role will be played by Jason Isaacs as Captain Lorca.

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By following a Lieutenant Commander instead of the Captain, Burnham is certain to bring Star Trek to us from a new, fresh, perspective.  More of a “lower decks” series that should allow us to watch on as highly-specialized crew perform their ongoing duties.

Why Wait to Announce Casting of Martin-Green?

Star Trek: Discovery - Sonequa Martin-Green
Star Trek: Discovery – Sonequa Martin-Green

Given that CBS began publishing casting announcements back in late 2016, and the world has know about Martin-Green being the show lead for months, why did it take so long to officially announce her casting decision?  Answer: The Walking Dead.

Sonequa has played a major role in The Walking Dead television series for a number of seasons.  By making an official announcement, CBS would have been openly signalling the world that Martin-Green’s character would be killed-off in that show sometime soon.  Not wanting to spoil this for fans, an agreement was reached whereby CBS would make no announcement until it would no longer spoil things for viewers of The Walking Dead.  That strategy may or may not have worked as anyone paying attention already knows about Sonequa’s new role in Star Trek Discovery.

Who is First Officer Michael Burnham?

So now that we know, officially, that Martin-Green is lead of the series, what do we know about her character: Lt. Cmdr. Burnham.  Unfortunately, not much at this point.  The name suggests that this character may have had a gender re-assignment.  According to StarTrek.com “…here’s the real news… her character’s name is First Officer Michael Burnham”

CBS and the Star Trek Discovery producers have been extremely tight-lipped about any details pertaining to the new show.  We haven’t seen the final design of the USS Discovery.  We don’t know why the cast spans two starships (the other is the USS Shenzhou).  We haven’t seen a complete cast or crew PR photo yet.

What we do know is that Rainsford will also be referred to as “Number One”.  This is a shout-out to the original Star Trek pilot that CBS rejected.  In that pilot, Majel Barrett played a character named Number One who was second in command of the USS Enterprise.  It’s even possible that Sonequa’s Number One is that same character – revised – a few years earlier.  Series creator Bryan Fuller had this to say: “When we introduce our protagonist, she is called ‘Number One’ in honor of Majel Barrett’s character in the original pilot. And as we were first talking about the series, talking to CBS, we said initially we will only call this character Number One.”

With the series leading role now officially announced, it’s just a matter of time before some of the juicy details start rolling in.  And when they do, we’ll be sure to be the first to bring it to you.

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About Enrico Pastellio

Rico became a Star Trek fan after being introduced to it during Star Trek Enterprise's run. After finishing that series, he went back watching TNG, DS9, VOY, and most of the movies. He's a big fan of Star Trek (2009) for its action, but favors the cerebral nature of each tv series. When Rico first heard about the new Star Trek Discovery series (then just know as 'Star Trek'), he immediately wanted to start up a new site about the show. You can email him at enrico@ncc-1031.com.