Where no women have gone before: How 'Star Trek Discovery' represents a historic change for iconic franchise (exclusive)

Fifty years ago, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry conceived of a utopic future Earth where humankind had long since moved beyond the racial, class and gender divisions holding society back. That’s why the corridors of Starfleet’s flagship vessel, the USS Enterprise, were populated by men, women and aliens of all backgrounds and colors — a notable departure from what viewers were seeing on most TV shows in the mid-1960s. In the decades since The Original Series, the Star Trek franchise has continued to assemble diverse crews for series like The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

Behind the camera, though, the Trek writing staffs remained largely male-dominated. So when the time came to assemble a writers’ room for the franchise’s long-awaited return to television, the producers boldly went where few Star Trek series had gone before. Premiering on CBS All Access in September 2017, Star Trek: Discovery boasted a female co-showrunner, Gretchen J. Berg (who has since parted ways with the show in advance of Season 2), as well as six female scribes, including Be Yeon Kim, Erika Lippoldt and Kirsten Beyer. Their voices were instrumental in guiding the 15-episode journey of the show’s central character, Michael Burnham (played Sonequa Martin-Green) — the first African-American female lead in Trek history.

The significance of that wasn’t lost on the USS Discovery‘s writing crew. In this exclusive clip from a featurette included on the show’s upcoming Season 1 release — available for digital download on Friday and on Blu-ray on Nov. 13 — Beyer discusses the exact moment she realized that this Trek was following a new path. (Watch the clip above.)

That moment came during a story session for one of the later episodes in the first season, with Beyer, Lippoldt, Kim and Lisa Randolph in attendance. As the four women discussed the script, Beyer recalls a stunning realization beaming into her brain. “I thought to myself, ‘I believe this is the first time four women have sat around and decided what the future of Star Trek was with no one else in the room,'” Beyer says, clearly cherishing the memory. “It was a unique moment in history for sure and I was very much aware of it.”

Season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery arrives Friday on Digital HD and Nov. 13 on Blu-ray. Season 2 premieres Jan. 17 on CBS All Access.

Watch: Nichelle Nichols on how Martin Luther King Jr. persuaded her not to quit Star Trek:

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