Published Mar 10, 2022
Reflections From the Star Trek Command Training Program - Mikayla Gingrey
"Time and time again I received the following advice: 'above all else be a kind person.'"
By Mikayla Gingrey
I’ve been a fan of Star Trek ever since I was a kid because of how it transports you to new worlds, teaches a shared humanity, and introduces diverse experiences for the purpose of making social commentary. As an emerging Black creative who is passionate about science-fiction and driven to tell stories that lead to social change, the Star Trek Command Training Program resonated with who I am and who I strive to be as a writer-producer. The internship provided the unique opportunity to network with industry professionals in the Star Trek Universe. During each conversation, I would be asked what my favorite Star Trek series was without hesitation I would say The Original Series. People were shocked. Most expected my answer to be The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, or the newer series like Discovery or Picard. Maybe they thought I was far too young to be so invested in a show that first aired in 1966. However, I believe that speaks to the legacy of Star Trek. This is why I was so honored to be selected for this internship, because it gave me the opportunity to be a part of the legacy that continues to inspire future generations to hope for, and move toward, a brighter tomorrow.
This internship provided a 360-degree view of the Star Trek Universe. I had the privilege of meeting with esteemed creatives from all corners of the Star Trek Universe including writers, showrunners, producers, directors, costume designers, art designers, key gaffers… the list goes on. Getting to learn from each person that I had the pleasure of speaking with was truly a gift - especially at the beginning of my career. My knowledge increased exponentially as I was exposed to the technicalities, skills and logistics of what it really takes to bring the Star Trek Universe to life from the page to production to the screen. As an MFA candidate in the Writing and Producing for Television program at Loyola Marymount University, this internship amplified my belief that to be a successful writer-producer it is necessary to have a thorough understanding of production. Learning from the physical production team provided the exposure and edge that contributed to me becoming the stronger and dynamic writer that I am today.
My most memorable experience from the internship was my participation in the Star Trek: Prodigy writer’s room. Having the opportunity to witness the leadership, the creativity, and the vision of Kevin and Dan Hageman was incredible. I will forever be thankful to the writers of Prodigy for allowing me to share space with them and for introducing me to my first professional writer’s room. The Hagemans, along with the truly talented writers Aaron Waltke, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, Jennifer Muró, Erin McNamara, Keith Sweet II, and writer’s assistant Alex Hanson, created an environment in which they welcomed my thoughts and pitches into the room. That still gets me: I pitched in a professional writer’s room! My experience here reaffirmed that the writer’s room is where I am meant to be and I leave this internship reinvigorated to dive into this industry as a writer who is willing to go forth boldly and tell stories that inspire and empower the next generation of Star Trek fans.
Moreover, it became evidently clear after many conversations with industry professionals that the key to bringing the Star Trek Universe alive is community. The camaraderie amongst all levels of production and writing departments was astounding. Each industry professional had a personal connection to Star Trek and was committed to the franchise’s core values of diversity and collaboration. This served as the catalyst for everyone to move together as one community toward one common goal.
Finally, throughout the internship I would ask for one piece of advice from each industry professional. Time and time again I received the following advice: “above all else be a kind person.” Now, this seems simple enough, yet it is the most influential lesson I learned from this internship. Kindness is what fostered the unique community amongst the people behind Star Trek, as I learned that people enjoy coming to work knowing that kindness is a choice that all will gladly make. Kindness is also the foundation of building authentic relationships with team members leading to more than a community, but one big Star Trek family. That same kindness was extended to me as an intern and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone’s willingness to welcome me with open arms into that Star Trek family.
A Timeline Through the Star Trek Universe
Mikayla Gingrey is a MFA candidate in the Writing and Producing for Television program at Loyola Marymount University’s Graduate School of Film and Television. As a winner of the WeScreenplay College Competition, Best Original Feature at the SFTV Industry Awards and finalist in the Black Girl Writes Mentorship Initiative, Mikayla is an up and coming writer-producer who is bold in pushing boundaries and telling the stories that reflect, shape and influence society.