Brooks On Star Trek, Rutgers, 'Roots' & Robeson

By Michelle
April 24, 2007 - 9:19 PM

"I have studied the Aboriginal culture and I want to see it for myself," Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko) said on the even of his appearance at Terra Nova V, the convention dubbed "The Emissary Cometh" in honour of Brooks' appearance in Australia. "I want to see and experience the unique culture of Australia, and not with bias or pompously, but to experience and learn from it as a spectator."

Terra Nova Events forwarded the interview from The Adelaide Review in which Brooks discussed his expectations for his then-upcoming appearance on April 22nd. After leaving teaching at Rutgers University to become Benjamin Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the actor has not yet returned to full-time academic work, though he said that his role as a tenured professor made his long unpaid leave possible. "It was important for me that, if I was to take the role, that I was not losing any of the commitment that I had made to Rutgers and that I could continue to be associated with the university, and be a spokesperson for the university any time I could," he said.

Brooks has become closely associated with another figure from Rutgers, the performer and activist Paul Robeson, who won an academic scholarship to Rutgers University and was the only black student attending at the time. "Two former students of mine undertook to open the Crossroads Theatre in New Jersey, and had been asking me to perform in some capacity," Brooks explained. "Fortunately [director] Harold Scott was there to work with me." Brooks has played Robeson in over 300 performances in the US.

At present Brooks is working on an audio recording of Alex Haley's Roots. Though Brooks did not appear in the original television miniseries with Levar Burton (Geordi LaForge), he and Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) both played major characters in Roots: The Gift. Brooks said that he was very proud to be a part of the audio recording: "Understanding where I come from is something I have been fortunate to always know. I donít mean specifically African-American or from where in the country Iím from, but who I am...from there, I've tried to use my work, as a teacher, or utilising art, as a means to engender conversation."

Brooks has also recently completed work on a CD, "a selection of ballads and love songs...I speak of my respect for my father, and for artists that I have listened to all my life." He laughed that he did not expect it to have much in common with the spoken-word albums of another Star Trek star, William Shatner (Captain Kirk). "I am in no way fooled by where the power is with Star Trek Ė it's with the people," stated Brooks. "I've started doing more and more of these conventions. I'm very aware of the importance of the exchange with know this and also take the responsibility. Itís about the real human power one can wield, and it's full of faith and hope, itís extraordinary."

Thanks to Terra Nova Events for forwarding the interview.

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