When people first hear Captain Philippa Georgiou speak, they’ll definitely notice her accent. That’s actress Michelle Yeoh’s real accent.
The Malaysian-born Yeoh said the producers and show runners of Star Trek Discovery, the latest iteration of the Star Trek franchise, embraced the accent, which she describes as a cross between American, British and Asian.
She’s well aware of the importance of carrying on the traditions of the iconic science fiction universe set forth by its creator, the late Gene Roddenberry.
“I think everybody pays homage to the original because they are the original, so the essence and spirit of how we started out … is very much there,” Yeoh said. “It’s about inclusion, raising the diversity, reflecting on what’s happening with us as a human race and going forward with strength and compassion. It is all there. I think this is the real spirit of what it is to be Star Trek.”
When the trailer was first released featuring Yeoh and Sonequa Martin-Green, who is African American, there was some grumbling among some of the White fanboys who believe that the future is full of White people.
The producers of Discovery were surprised by that online backlash. “If you don’t understand that diversity and everyone being included is part of Starfleet and the Federation and ‘Star Trek,’ then you just don’t get (the franchise). Especially in the future, we just feel that everybody would be represented on a starship — from our planet and beyond,” said co-showrunner Gretchen J. Berg.
“Because it just tells them that we are recognized to be in a position of power,” adds the 55-year-old actress. “It is very empowering and it is very inspirational. In the past I didn’t used to think about it, but now I can understand how powerful a motivator it is, especially for (young girls). They’ll think, ‘If she can do this, I can do this.’”
“Star Trek has always been about hope and this show is no different. Because we all need to have hope, especially (with) the climate and the tension and the craziness when you turn on the TV,” says Yeoh, who volunteers as a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador committed to female empowerment.