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The Future Is Definitely Female Panel Highlights

The Future Is Definitely Female Panel Highlights

An exuberant and sustained standing ovation greeted Gretchen J. Berg, Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Chieffo, Mary Wiseman and Michelle Yeoh as they took the stage on Sunday in New Your City to participate in the Vulture Festival panel, “Star Trek: Discovery – The Future Is Definitely Female.” Over the course of an hour, moderator Kathryn Vanarendonk led the ladies of Discovery through a conversation in which they looked back at season one of the show, commented on the fact that women drive the series both on camera and behind the scenes and, in the case of the actresses, discussed their respective character’s femininity. Check out some choice snippets of the conversation:

“We absolutely wanted to reflect the world we live in now because that has always been the vision of Starfleet for Roddenberry, that everybody is represented,” co-executive producer Berg said. “And we know there are still people who have not been represented yet on our show. It will be our goal, as long as we’re there, to try to make sure we get everybody in there that we can. So, we’re aware of it, and it’s something that we are dedicated to. It’s exciting. It’s our responsibility to make sure that, wherever you are on this planet, and whatever background you come from, when you turn on the show, you’re able to find yourself and see yourself in there. I think that’s the commitment was from the beginning and what it will be.”

Looking back at the casting process, Martin-Green recalled that she was told the show would be digitally streamed and they wanted a black female lead. She doubted it would happen, but acknowledged the show’s producers were “adamant” about it. “Somebody lost the memo,” Michelle Yeoh joked, prompting Martin-Green to smile and say, “Two leads of color!”

Much like Martin-Green, Yeoh wasn’t sure the producers could or would follow through on their ambitious diversity plans, but they did. “I remember when I first came to Hollywood,” she said. “The director (of a movie) was a good friend, and he said, ‘If they cast a male black lead, we won’t be able to cast you.’ And look how times have changed. I feel so blessed that I am still in it while it’s changed.” Yeoh was also quick to point out that there are many men involved in the making of Discovery. “We are each other’s halves.” Yeoh said of women and men being equals. “Without one there isn’t the other.”

“Female friendships exist,” Chieffo said, looking directly at her friend, colleague and fellow Juilliard alum, Wiseman. “It doesn’t have to be a competition.”

“The only sex object on our show,” Wiseman cracked… “is Shazad (Latif).”

“We are a family,” Martin-Green said of the cast, “because we all chose to be.”

“We’re trying to examine everything,” Berg said. “We’re not trying to rush through anything.”

Yeoh joked about playing Emperor Georgiou that, “I was just playing Michelle Yeoh there.” After the laughter subsided, the actress admitted, “She scared me, too.” And, she added, “It was worth dying for, right?”

Martin-Green noted that on Discovery, “You see women not denying their femininity.”

“There are a lot of men on the set,” Wiseman said, “but a woman’s perspective (Berg’s) is always at the forefront.”

Berg closed out the session by teasing things to come in season two of Discovery. “I would just say… watch,” she said. “Not to spoil anything, but I think that there are clues. It takes too many months to figure out how to do this and then their beautiful performances are crafted, and then we are in post. So, I am not going to tell you everything right now. You have clues at the end of the (first season’s) final episode as to where we are going. And I can promise you that the characters you’ve fallen in love with, you are going to get to know them better. We get much deeper into character exploration this year, and we will meet some new folks. We love our group -- and you are going to learn more about them. So…”

Star Trek: Discovery's first season is available on CBS All Access in the U.S. and Space Channel in Canada. It's available on Netflix in the rest of the world.