TIFF Bell Lightbox: Trek Talks with Dr. Mae Jemison

TIFF Bell Lightbox’s fantastic series of Trek Talks came to a close last night with a passionate and humorous talk by doctor, and former astronaut, Mae Jemison. Her talk drew a lot of attention, and her love of both the science and arts was on full display as she entertained and informed, igniting and rousing the crowd with her passion.

Jemison, growing up in Chicago, knew from a very young age, that she would go to space, and embraced the diversity that was on display in the original run of Star Trek in the late 60s, even as humanity struggled through a turbulent period in its own history.

Driven by a wonder for, and love of science, Jemison became the first woman of colour to travel to space. She also was the first astronaut to appear in Star Trek, showing up in The Next Generation episode Second Chances.

She spoke at length about her experiences, and infused her stories with laughs and wonder. She talked of the 100 Year Starship programme (  https://100yss.org/ ) and the drive to discover interstellar travel.

It’s tough to remain cynical in the face of such hope, passion and desire for knowledge, as she embraces the belief that we as a species can better ourselves with this programme because it won’t only serve the needs of space travel, but serve to make us better residents of this blue-green globe we all share.


A number of things she said and shared brought a smile to my face, and applause from the audience. In fact, as the evening drew to a close, she not only wanted to keep sharing, the audience did as well, as we spontaneously rose to our feet to give her a standing ovation.

The thing that rang most true in my heart, and in those of countless others, judging by the applause, was the statement that she believes that all children love science, that need to discover, explore, seek and understand. These things need to be fostered, encouraged, instead of pushed down. Science as a subject should be exciting, and about the doing, not the rote recitation of facts – that’s where the sense of wonder is lost.

She shared with us her love of Star Trek (loved Spock, annoyed by Kirk) and her involvement with the 100 Year Starship echoes the embracing of diversity and inclusion that remain one of the founding themes of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek.

If you missed the Trek Talks, make sure you check out the Lightbox’s Facebook page, or YouTube channel, where you’ll be able to tune into them, and don’t miss out on seeing some of the classic films on the big screen before the end of the year!

Check out Trek at the Lightbox here, and go boldly.




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