The film and TV actor was thrilled when he landed the role of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jabilo M’Benga, a character previously played (albeit briefly) by the late Booker Bradshaw on ‘The Original Series.’
[This story contains spoilers for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds episode “The Elysian Kingdom.”]
There was a moment when Babs Olusanmokun found himself slightly perplexed about his involvement in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds after he read the first two scripts for the Paramount+ series. But the feeling immediately evaporated when he dug into the third.
The film and TV actor was thrilled when he landed the role of Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jabilo M’Benga, a character previously played (albeit briefly) by the late Booker Bradshaw on The Original Series.
Olusanmokun’s wise, forthright and stoic Dr. M’Benga had a small introduction in the series premiere and then was absent in the next episode. But in the series’ third episode, “Ghosts of Illyria,” the character made his mark with a heartbreaking revelation.
In “Ghosts,” it is learned Dr. M’Benga is using an outdated transporter to house his terminally ill daughter, Rukiya (Sage Arrindell), as he desperately tries to find a cure for her cygnokemia.
In this week’s episode, “The Elysian Kingdom,” the arc is further explored when an alien presence (hilariously) takes over the Enterprise and befriends Rukiya in a classic Star Trek throwback of delightful absurdity. However, the end proves to be perhaps the most emotional moment of the series thus far.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Olusanmokun discusses the beauty and complexity of M’Benga in those heart-wrenching scenes with his daughter. The actor also recalls how much fun the crew had making “Elysian Kingdom,” during which several takes were ruined by outbursts of laughter.
How did you become cast in the show?
My team told me they were getting in touch directly with casting because it was secretive. I put two sides on tape and a few weeks later, I was told the showrunners wanted to Zoom.
We had a meeting, and I did the scenes again along with a lovely conversation. It was all very nice. And a few weeks after, I got a call saying I had the job. And of course, it was a wonderful piece of news.