Hanelle Culpepper becomes first woman to launch a Star Trek series


For the first time in its 50+ history, the pilot episode of the untitled Jean-Luc Picard Star Trek show will be directed by a woman.

Historically, Star Trek has been the franchise that has attempted to boldly go where no man has gone before. Now, it’s the turn of women to do the same. Acclaimed director Hanelle Culpepper is slated to direct the first two episodes of the as-yet-untitled Patrick Stewart series, making her the first woman (and woman of color) to effectively ‘launch’ a Star Trek cinematic property.

Culpepper’s directing credits include Star Trek: Discovery, the second season of which is currently running on CBS All Access, as well as Gotham, How to Get Away with Murder, Counterpart, and Supergirl. Showrunner Alex Kurtzman was quoted by Deadline as saying:

"‘Hanelle is a gifted and dynamic filmmaker whose directorial choices are always deeply rooted in character. I’ve been a huge fan of her work since she started with us on Discovery, and she’s the perfect person to re-introduce the beloved character of Picard to longtime fans and new viewers alike. We’re thrilled she’s joining our Trek family on this next adventure.’"

The show will follow Stewart’s return as Jean-Luc Picard, the Enterprise Captain from Star Trek: The Next Generation, as the character moves on to the next stage in his life. Details are thin about what the series will be about but looks like the showrunners are already attempting to make waves with the series.

Star Trek has had women behind the scenes before, including writer/editor DC Fontana, who worked on the original series in the 1960s. Ever since, several episodes over the course of the live-action and animated shows have had women at the helm. Some cast members have also tried their hand at writing and directing – most notably Jonathan Frakes (Will Riker on The Next Generation), Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager), and Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna Torres on Voyager), have established themselves as producers and directors for many popular favorites shows over the years.

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But, there’s still a long way to go. Star Trek: Discovery has already broken the mold with a woman of color in the lead, and its unabashed showcase of queer love. Hopefully, talents like Culpepper can pave the way for more women and people of color to join the Star Trek family in front of and behind the scenes to bring more diverse voices and stories to the franchise.

Source: Deadline