CBS All Access has ordered Star Trek Discovery as one of its original programs. Since the streaming service made the announcement, the anticipation has been building for the series space adventure series, but the information has been released rather slowly. The title and showrunner were announced a while back, but other details have been scarce. That was true until the network’s TCA panel. Various details, including character breakdowns and details about the story, but the biggest piece of news was the lead. A lead of the series will be female and the series will not be told from the perspective of the Captain, like the past Star Trek shows. The lead will be a Lt. Commander.
Here are 15 actresses who should be considered for the role:
15. Lenora Crichlow
While American audiences may only remember Lenora Crichlow from her roles on short-lived comedies Back in the Game and A to Z, she actually spent 4 seasons on the British series Being Human. She played Annie Sawyer, a new ghost who was having serious trouble adjusting to the afterlife. Trapped in the home where she lived, and died, Annie was lost until her new roommates, a werewolf and a vampire in fact, moved to. With her new made-family, Annie dove into the world of the supernatural and had to toughen up to keep her friends safe. Over the course of the series, Annie became the heart of the show, and the actress showed the ability to make viewers laugh and cry. The more Annie learned about the supernatural world, the stronger she became. In the end, Annie saved the world – literally. As an original cast member, Crichlow was crucial to the transition period as she left the series and had a group of new leads take over. The actress was recently cast in a CBS comedy pilot, so clearly she is interested in joining an American series.
14. Sarah Michelle Gellar
Who is better than Buffy Summers? Sarah Michelle Gellar spent 7 seasons starring as the titular Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During her tenure, her character slayed demons and saved the world. Gellar snarked with the best of them and kick ass on a weekly basis while the series aired. Threading the line perfectly between drama and comedy is an incredible skill, one that Gellar possesses, that could make for a dynamic lead for Star Trek: Discovery. Since retiring from the slayer business, Gellar has starred in short-lived drama Ringer and worked opposite the late Robin Williams on CBS’ The Crazy Ones. Fans of the actress’ role in Cruel Intentions were paying a lot of attention when a pilot for a potential revival series was ordered by NBC. Things got even better for fans when Gellar herself joined the cast of the reboot in the role of Kathryn Merteuil. The network did not order the pilot to series, but they are deciding what their course of action should be. If NBC cannot figure out what to do with its Cruel Intentions remake then CBS could bring Gellar back into the fold. Between her comedic ability, experience leading a series and just how well she can handle an action scene, Gellar would make an amazing Lt. Commander.
13. Stana Katic
ABC canceled Castle earlier this year, which means a talented group of actors are between gigs right now. CBS would be foolish not to make a play for female lead Stana Katic. Castle starred Nathan Fillion and Katic as Richard Castle and Kate Beckett, respectively. He was a best-selling author looking for his next hit and she was the detective he thought would inspire his next character. The duo solved crimes on a weekly basis and eventually fell in love. The exceptionally talented actress was the female lead for 8 seasons on Castle, but at the end of the day Katic wasn’t Castle. That fact was hammered home when it was announced she would leave the series ahead of a potential ninth season. Fellow co-star Jon Huertas has joined This Is Us and Nathan Fillion is headed to Modern Family for an arc next season, but Katic has not found her next television gig. The time has come for Katic to be top of the call sheet and Star Trek: Discovery is the type of high profile project she deserves.
12. Ksenia Solo
While she is an unlikely choice, Ksenia Solo would be an exciting one. As Kenzi on Lost Girl, Solo made her way into the hearts of the viewers. The series starred Anna Silk as Bo, a succubus who was enter the supernatural world of the fae. Along for the ride was Bo’s best friend Kenzi and was the voice of the viewer on many occasions. The world the series lived in had many customs and rules that made humans second class citizens – a viewpoint Kenzi spoke out against throughout the series. After the breakout role, she went on to recur on Orphan Black as the love interest for clone Cosima. The actress is currently playing Peggy Shippen on Turn: Washington’s Spies, which has been renewed for a final season by AMC. Her character is in a love triangle with the man she actually loves and Benedict Arnold himself. The one constant in all those characters is their strength and how different they are from one another. Heading into space would be a new challenge for the young actress. Solo’s the type of young actress who could make quite the impression on the upcoming Star Trek series.
11. Gillian Anderson
Scully may not be up for a trip back to space, but Gillian Anderson could be more amicable to the idea. For nearly a decade Anderson played Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files who entered the world of aliens and the unknown, going on to be part of one of the biggest television shows of all time. Even as her co-star David Duchovny’s presence on the series decreased, Anderson kept the series afloat. They did get the band back together for a shortened 10th season, which aired on Fox last year. Landing the X-Files star would be a serious coup for the series. With roles on NBC’s Hannibal, from Bryan Fuller, and British crime drama The Fall, Anderson has shown her continued commitment to television. Fuller is clearly a fan since she has also joined his upcoming American Gods series as Media. Maybe Fuller and Anderson could work together again on Star Trek: Discovery. As long as a potential 11th season of The X Files doesn’t conflict with production, Anderson would make a fantastic Lt. Commander.
10. Gugu Mbatha-Raw
While Gugu Mbatha-Raw has recently been enjoying her rising film career, Star Trek may be a big enough project to draw her back to television. Yes, BACK to television. Mbatha-Raw starred opposite Boris Kodjoe on NBC’s short-lived spy drama Undercovers, about a retired couple of spies who left the CIA to start a catering business. They get drawn back into the world of espionage to take on missions other operatives cannot handle. She followed it up with a season-long stint on Kiefer Sutherland-starring Touch. She played Clea Hopkins, a social worker who meets Sutherland’s Martin Bohm and his son for an evaluation. She quickly gets drawn into the complex world of the Bohm family and helps them escape from the forces out to get Martin’s son. Her film career may be growing, but for every successful film, like Beyond The Lights and Belle, Mbatha-Raw has appeared in a Jupiter Ascending. A leading television role like the Lt. Commander role on Star Trek: Discovery could be a fantastic move.
9. Emily VanCamp
Emily VanCamp was in one of the most talked about new dramas when Revenge debuted on ABC. She starred as Emily Throne, a young girl who comes to The Hamptons with a plot to get revenge on all of those who hurt her father when she was a young girl. Being Emily Throne meant VanCamp got to kick some ass and put together some extensive plots that were amazing to watch. Unfortunately the series could not make all the different aspects of the shows fit together, but one thing is clear – Emily VanCamp is a star. While she is kicking ass in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Sharon Carter, the role does not give her much to do in the world of beloved heroes and supervillains. Maybe a return to television is in order. One of the benefits of not focusing on the Captain’s point of view means the lead could potentially get in on more expeditions, which is the perfect chance for some VanCamp ass kicking.
8. Claudia Black
Like Gillian Anderson, Star Trek: Discovery could keep it in the sci-fi family by casting Claudia Black. Black made her mark on the sci-fi community when she starred opposite Ben Browder on Farscape as Aeryn Sun. Her character begins the series as a renegade officer who is stripped of her rank and marked for death. While the character lacks empathy, meeting the rest of the characters sees her warming a bit. Black was reunited with Browder for the final few seasons of Stargate SG-1. After playing Aeryn Sun on Farscape and Vala Mal Doran on Stargate SG-1, Black has the sci-fi cred for a role like this. Luckily the actress seems keen about television as well. Recently she has been part of the Julie Plec CW family. She recurred on The Originals as the second season’s Big Bad Dahlia and then, most recently, she starred on The CW’s Containment, which was canceled after its first season.
7. Annet Mahendru
Annet Mahendru made her mark during her tenure on FX’s The Americans. She played clerical worker Nina Sergeevna Krilova who finds herself in the complex world of espionage. Trapped between her FBI lover and the KGB, Nina has a tough time on the series. During the 4 seasons she spent on the series Mahendru kept fans captivated as they watched her storyline play out – an arc not directly including the two leads. It takes a lot of things working together to keep a subplot from draining away from the main story and in this circumstance Mahendru was a major success. While the actress has joined the cast of Tyrant, it would be fantastic for her to headline a series, especially one as big as Star Trek: Discovery. Mahendru built some momentum on The Americans and a major role like this one would be a fantastic next step for the actress.
6. Nazanin Boniadi
Nazanin Boniadi could set herself up with a role like the Lt. Commander on Star Trek: Discovery. She’s about to make quite the splash as Esther in Ben-Hur opposite Jack Huston. A film role like that could launch the actress into a new arena – like leading the new upcoming Star Trek series. While Boniadi has not been a series regular since appearing on General Hospital, she has not left television behind completely. Her biggest return to television was her time on Homeland. She played CIA operative Fara Sherazi who worked alongside Carrie Mathison, but unfortunately her character had a tragic ending. The actress has also recurred on How I Met Your Mother and Scandal in recent years. While Fara was a nice, kind person, Boniadi’s Shondaland character was a far cry from her Homeland character. On Scandal she played Adnan Salif, a dark figure from the past of one of Columbus Short’s Harrison. In the end her criminal activities and manipulative mind led to her own end and the end of Harrison. Boniadi has played a variety of complex characters well, so she can handle whatever the role of Lt. Commander asks of her.
5. Gina Torres
Getting Gina Torres to headline could be an amazing marriage for the upcoming series. Since playing Cleopatra on Xena: Warrior Princess in 1997, Torres has had several television roles on sci-fi programs. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Cleopatra 2525 to name a few. On Alias, Torres played KGB operative Anna Espinosa, who often clashed with series lead Sydney Bristow, played by Jennifer Garner. The ABC spy drama has various antagonists, but Espinosa was one of the best – a testament to Torres’ performance. Then, she joined the cast of beloved, yet short-lived, Fox drama Firefly. Along with sci-fi mainstays including Nathan Fillion and Summer Glau, Torres created an amazing first season. The series was canceled, but the love of the series resulted in a film to wrap up the story. Torres has carved out quite a career in the area and she would be a fantastic choice to lead a Star Trek project. While she has been on Suits since 2011, the actress did land a leading role on ABC pilot The Death of Eva Sofia Valdez. The drama was not picked up, but it seems Torres is looking to see what’s next.
4. Archie Panjabi
Archie Panjabi came on the television scene in a big way on CBS legal drama The Good Wife. She played private investigator Kalinda Sharma, a complex and mysterious character rocking boots and leather jacket, surrounded by lawyers in suits. Panjabi’s The Good Wife private investigator was an incredible part of the first two seasons. To stick out on a show of that caliber takes good writing and a talented actor. Her acting drew viewers in, even when the series had no idea what to do with the character. The actress exited ahead of the final season and Kalinda literally walked off in a mysterious matter – keeping in line with her character. We almost had her return on ABC pilot The Jury, but the network did not pick up the drama. While she will be returning to television with a recurring role on Blindspot, the time for Panjabi to star on a project is past due.
3. Sarah Shahi
CBS recently passed on Sarah Shahi-starring pilot Drew, so the actress is available for the lead of Star Trek Discovery. The actress, who has appeared on The L Word and Alias, has experience leading television shows. Shahi starred opposite Damian Lewis on cop drama Life, which lasted for 2 seasons. Then Shahi went on to take on a new challenge – leading her own series. For another 2 seasons she played Kate Reed on USA’s Fairly Legal. Kate worked in a law firm, but used her unique perspective on conflict resolution to make her clients happy. Then Person of Interest came around. Shahi joined the cast in the CBS drama’s second season playing trained killer and spy Sameen Shaw, a role she kept until the end of the series earlier this year. The network developed a modern drama based on the character Nancy Drew starring the actress, but the pilot was passed on. Choosing Shahi as the Lt. Commander on Star Trek: Discovery would be a nice way to bring the actress back into the fold.
2. Nicole Beharie
One of the most controversial moves last television season was Nicole Beharie’s exit from Fox drama Sleepy Hollow. For 3 seasons she starred opposite Tom Mison as Abbie Mills, a hero who fought the supernatural forces in the town of Sleepy Hollow. At a time of heightened sensitivity to diversity in television, the removal of a female lead of color on network television was sure to spark a debate. Beharie’s exit coupled with the renewal of Sleepy Hollow was met with backlash. At the end of the day an exceptional actress is no longer attached to a television series, so CBS should paying attention. Beharie is a talented actress who knows what it takes to lead a series. Beharie grounded the nonsensical story elements of Sleepy Hollow with storylines about friendship and family. That takes some serious talent. While her roles in films like Shame and 42 could mean the actress is interested in film, we are hoping Beharie makes her way back to television.
1. Tatiana Maslany
Like Castle, the end of Orphan Black is about to release a group of talented actors out into the world. The series stars Tatiana Maslany as several clones who discover they are part of an experiment and band together to survive, making a complex and amazing family along the way. In a single episode Maslany could play grifter Sarah, scientist Cosima, high-strung housewife Alison, or a completely new arrival, which is amazing to watch. The actress slips from one character to another with ease. Maslany has played several characters well during the previous 4 seasons and her next move will be one people will anticipating. Playing this group of characters has shown what Maslany is capable of and going into the final season, the actress should have a pile of offers headed her way. This time around she will be playing one character, so Maslany would probably enjoy that. Honestly, why wouldn’t CBS want her for Star Trek: Discovery?
Star Trek: Discovery is set for a 2017 premiere.