Whoopi Goldberg found something in Star Trek to which she could personally relate.
When watching the original series, Goldberg found it had something that other science fiction shows of the time were missing.
Goldberg, best known to Trek fans as Guinan on Star Trek: The Next Generation, couldn’t identify with other science fiction shows because they were missing something important, people of color. “I am a big fan of Star Trek because before Star Trek there was no other sci-fi that had people of color in the future,” she explained. “I always thought that was really depressing. Along came Star Trek with a beautiful black woman and people from all over the world. They seem to be happening in the future. I said I would like to do that in the future at some point.”
But those in charge of The Next Generation weren’t keen initially on having her at first. “When I got the opportunity, I asked to be part of it. But they were like ugh, they don’t wanna … The person I asked was LeVar Burton because he was doing it. I said, ‘Tell them I wanted to do it very much,’ and told them all the reasons. He said OK.”
But it took a while before Goldberg got her chance. “A year went by and nothing happened. When I saw [Burton] next I said, ‘What happened?’ ‘They didn’t believe me.’ I said, ‘Give me the phone number,’ and I called them. We had a meeting with Gene Roddenberry who asked me the same question you just did (what drew her to Star Trek). I told them the same thing I told you. I never thought about it that way. So he wrote the last character that he wrote for me, and that’s how it happened.”