After months of silence on the matter, the CBS All-Access series announced on Monday that The Walking Dead actress Sonequa Martin-Green will play First Officer Michael Burnham.
A First Officer is the second in command on a starship, just below the captain. Martin-Green’s character was originally described by executive producer Bryan Fuller as a lieutenant commander, but in the Trek-verse that rank can also be the ship’s First Officer (so perhaps she’s both). Star Trek: Discovery marks the first time the lead character in a Trek series hasn’t been a ship’s captain, which Fuller noted gives the series a chance to tell a different kind of story.
Some sites have previously assumed her character’s name was “Rainsford,” which was a codename put out by the production.
Although the arc of the new series remains shrouded in secrecy, Martin-Green — who’s been shooting “for a little while now” — is able to at least give a vague sense of what Trekkers can expect. “This iteration of Star Trek is going to have a different take than the others in the Star Trek canon,” she says. “It’s going to be bigger, rawer and grittier… and the story’s going to build on itself. It’s going to be a tremendous journey.”
As we already know, it’s also going to be a story told for the first time from the perspective of someone other than the captain — Martin-Green’s First Officer. “Since Star Trek has always been through the eyes of the captain,” she suggests, “to be coming from [his second-in-command’s] mindset is going to be refreshing and challenging in ways that are very thrilling.”