INTERVIEW: Arista Arhin of Star Trek: Discovery on Her Inspiration for Young Burnham

The lovely Arista Arhin is best known for her role as the young Michael Burnham on Star Trek: Discovery, where she delivers a strong and emotional performance. She spoke to Defective Geeks about the challenges and inspiration for her work, as well as her upcoming show, Bajillionaires. Read all about it below!

Thank you so much for answering our questions, Arista. It is so exciting that you get to portray Young Burnham in Star Trek: Discovery! Can you tell us what it’s like working on this series and knowing that it’s part of this huge, sci-fi universe? 

It felt unreal and a little startling when I first got cast for the show knowing that I was now part of one of the most iconic TV shows of all time. When I first started filming, I felt under pressure to deliver a great performance knowing how huge the franchise was and not wanting to disappoint any of the fans. Yet, after a lot of positive feedback, it really meant a lot to me to know that people enjoyed watching me on the show. I was very happy to have been invited back to Season 2. 

Did it get very intense filming a lot of the scenes on Star Trek, especially since Burnham’s childhood was filled with so much turmoil? What do you admire the most about Burnham? 

Yes, a lot of the flashbacks are very emotional and sentimental in portraying who Michael Burnham grew up to be, so it was very important for me to convey all those conflicting emotions flawlessly. As I mentioned, I felt pressured not wanting to let anyone down with my performance, yet, in the end, each scene looked beautiful on screen, and it is all thanks to an amazing cast, crew and especially the remarkable directors we worked with.

The thing that I admire the most about Burnham is her determination and dedication to each task she takes on, and I am truly thankful to play such a daring and brave character.

What’s the coolest part about being a part of the Star Trek universe? 

One of the coolest parts of my entire experience that has left me star struck has been meeting all the amazing actors on the show. I first met Sonequa Martin-Green, who was so loving and caring, and with whom I’ve immediately had a very strong connection with. Also, meeting other cast members, such as Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, James Frain, Ethan Peck, Jason Isaacs and others, made me feel a part of the Discovery family, and have made my time working on the show even more enjoyable. Also, it was fantastic to work not only with fellow actors but with the entire crew who was extremely kind and caring towards me as a young actress.  

Tell us about your upcoming show, Bajillionaires and your character, Alicia Windsor. What is the show about and what is Alicia like? 

Bajillionaires is a brand new show about a group of kids who run a start-up company out of one of the parent’s garage. They constantly come up with new inventions that will hopefully change the world for the better. They dream, innovate, fail, but through it all, they remain friends. I play Alicia Windsor, the Chief Product Designer of the team. She is very hands-on, always making prototypes for new projects or coding. She is such a tech geek and I had so much fun portraying this character as I myself love math and coding. My character is very easy to fall in love with, and I can’t wait for everyone to see her and the squad in action! The show is currently airing on Family Channel in Canada on Sundays at 10:00 AM ET, starting March 2nd, and it will soon be available on Universal Kids in the U.S., so stay tuned!

When did you know that you wanted to become an actress? What is your favorite part about being an actress?

When I was around 10, there were several young actresses my age working on huge TV shows and films, such as Skai Jackson and Zendaya, which inspired me to start acting. Once I took a few acting classes, I truly fell in love and knew that I wanted acting to be my future career. Apart from loving to immerse myself in interesting characters, one of my favorite parts about being an actress is going on red carpets. I love them because I get to meet other fellow actors my age, and it’s also an opportunity to dress up!

What are your dream roles in the future? What part of having an acting career do you hope to explore? 

My ideal character to play would be someone who is the complete opposite of me. Now that I have already explored the comedic and dramatic roles, I’d like to someday explore the world of horror films. 

Which movies or tv shows do you watch on your free time? Do you have any favorites where you take inspiration from? 

One of my favorite TV shows has to be The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina! I love all of the actors and their acting is incredible! One of the shows I took a lot of inspiration from for my role in Star Trek: Discovery has to be Stranger Things. The character Eleven doesn’t have many lines, yet all of her emotions are conveyed though her eyes, which is very similar to my scenes as Young Burnham.

If you could have one superpower, which would it be and why? Would you use it for good or for evil? 

If I could have one superpower, it would be flight, because I am always late for everything and it would help me get to places without traffic. Of course, I would use it for good (especially for catching falling babies out of windows)!

Follow Arista on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Photo credits: Mark Binks & CBS Interactive.

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