Stacey Abrams boldly goes to “Star Trek: Discovery” for a presidential cameo

The voting rights crusader, who is a huge fan of the franchise, appears in the fourth season's finale episode

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published March 17, 2022 9:29PM (EDT)

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Stacey Abrams as United Earth President in "Star Trek: Discovery" (Marni Grossman/Paramount+)
Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Stacey Abrams as United Earth President in "Star Trek: Discovery" (Marni Grossman/Paramount+)

It looks like Stacey Abrams beat Pete Davidson to space.

The politician, romance novelist, voting rights activist and yes, Trekkie, makes an unexpected cameo in the season 4 finale of "Star Trek: Discovery." now streaming on Paramount+.

In the series, United Earth had seceded from the galactic United Federation of Planets following the catastrophic event known as The Burn that spanned the galaxy. But after Capt. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her crew saves the Federation from total obliteration, the president of United Earth makes their way to the Starfleet starbase and requests to rejoin the union. 

That president? Abrams, of course.

"We knew, coming into season 3, that bringing the Federation back together again would be a two-season arc," the show's executive producer Michelle Paradise told IndieWire. "And in the third episode of season 3, we go to Earth and we find out that Earth is no longer a member. So we were teeing up that Earth equals the Federation coming back together again. So we knew that, by the end of season 4, we would need to focus on Earth.

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"And as we got into season four and got halfway through breaking it, we realized: We need a person to represent Earth," she continued. "And then the question became: who should that person be? I don't remember where the idea came from, honestly. But I texted Alex to say, 'What do you think of Stacey Abrams?' Immediately, [he sent] exclamation points."

Paradise and fellow "Discovery" executive producer Alex Kurtzman then arranged a Zoom meeting with Abrams to discuss her character and explain her significance in the season. When the pair offered Abrams the role, she immediately said yes and travelled to the show's Toronto soundstages to film her scene.  

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Abrams has been a longtime "Star Trek" fan, which makes her recent appearance all the more special. She previously co-hosted "Trek the Vote to Victory," a themed campaign event for Joe Biden in 2020, alongside Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang. The event also featured some of the franchise's most notable stars, including Sir Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton and George Takei. And in a 2019 interview with The New York Times, the self-described Trekkie revealed she's a huge fan of the "Star Trek: Voyager" episode "Shattered" and its leading lady, Kate Mulgrew's Captain Janeway.

"We never wanted it to be a cameo — it was a proper role," Paradise said about Abrams' performance. "There's just something that made us think, 'Well, of course she can do it.' And she did. She just blew us away."

Other notable "Star Trek" guest stars include Gabrielle Union, Stephen Hawking, Dwayne Johnson and Sarah Silverman. At this time, it's unclear if Abrams will reprise her role or make an appearance in other franchise productions. Her hands are quite full with her political career; Abrams is currently running for governor in Georgia.

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By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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