Earlier this week Star Trek: Picard released its fourth episode of season one titled ‘Absolute Candor’ on CBS’ online streaming service CBS All Access. The critically acclaimed addition to the Star Trek universe releases a new episode every Wednesday through CBS All Access as it continues to wind its way through its inaugural ten-episode season.
CBS Local’s Matt Weiss spoke with cast mates Michelle Hurd (Raffi) and Isa Briones (Soji/Dahj) to discuss their history with the Star Trek franchise before joining the crew and the importance of the show’s message of inclusion for young people.
MW: Good morning and congrats to both of you for landing on this show and all the success so far. I’m curious, were either of you Star Trek fans growing up?
MH: Yeah, Star Trek was always in my family’s house. I’m biracial, my father is black and my mother is white. My father is an actor and it was really important for him that his three daughters could see themselves represented when we watched television. Star Trek was actually one of the only shows that was inclusive and one of the only shows that we would watch as a family. It was one of the first times they had a biracial kiss on television. Isa and I, we’re both biracial creatures it’s an honor to carry that torch for the other little munchkins that are out there now, they get to see themselves represented on television. I don’t think I realized as an adult how impactful that show was to my life and to the decisions I’ve made, I’m excited we get to do that to some other little kids.
MW: That’s great. Isa, what about you?
IB: Unfortunately, I didn’t watch it as a kid. I was always aware of it. In my household we didn’t watch it but we were always very aware of George Takei, he was obviously a big figure in the Asian American community and for my dad. He would talk about how he didn’t realize that early on he was the only Asian character he saw because growing up he only saw White people and he was like ‘yeah that’s what TV looks like, I’m not going to question it’ but then you realize, wow he was one of the first, he really paved that way. So really amazing to join the same universe as that and continue that legacy and to think of all those little girls out there, all those little mixed kids are going to be like ‘oh my gosh, I can be in space.’
MW: That’s awesome. Moving into both of your characters, I would love to hear from each of you, in your own words, what are your characters all about…
MH: Roffi, I adore playing Roffi. She’s a great character one of the best I’ve ever had. She is a security analyst, she’s a hacking genius, but her person, she’s a woman who is struggling with decisions she has made in the past. Things that have happened to her that have haunted her. She’s doing her very best to get up in the morning and greet the day.
Because of these things that are haunting her; she is relying on vices as crutches. I think that’s a great story to tell right now about addiction, which has been part of our society forever. For a period of time it’s been sort of this shameful thing and sometimes you write people off who are addicted to things. You think they are outcast and what I love and what is important for us to remember are people who have addictions those are demons that are their shoulders. They’re doing their very best to try to greet the day and they’re still valuable, they’re still contributes to our society. We should reach out, look out and help them. I think given this opportunity to play Roffi and tell that story under the awning of sci-fi is phenomenal because we could really explore what that means. I’m excited to play a character so perfectly imperfect.
IB: I play Dahj and Soji as you’ve seen now, but you’re going to see a lot more of Soji coming up. It’s really exciting because you get to see a young woman dealing with trauma and struggling with her identity. For me it touches my heart that I get to portray that when I know being mixed, racial identity can really be hard to wrap your head around when you are younger and figure out where you belong and I think that’s exactly what Soji is going through. She’s figuring out these two parts of her, she’s lived her life human, now she’s finding out she’s something else. There’s so much at play and coming to terms with those two truths and deciding for yourself who you are and not what other people tell you or make you believe but trusting yourself is really beautiful.
MW: Great. Last question before I let you go and thank you both so much for taking the time to speak with me. If each of you could describe the series in one word, I know it’s putting you on the spot a little bit, but one word for each you to describe the series, what would you choose?
MW: Perfect. Thank you so much to each of you for giving me the time today and all the best moving forward!
MH: Thanks Matt.
IB: Thank you have a good one!
Watch the first four episodes, available now, streaming on-demand with CBS All Access.