By Tiara Janté
Is the SyFy channel leading the way for more inclusion and diversity in the science fiction genre? It sure seems that way. Check out these fierce femmes of color opening doors in Sci-Fi films & TV.
Okay, let’s be honest—sometimes it can be difficult to take the SyFy channel seriously, due to some of their more “fantastic” productions (Sharknado, Pirahanaconda). But when it comes to series, as of late SyFy has been setting the bar pretty high when it comes to casting women of color–in serious roles at that. So, for those of you who aren’t hip, here’s the 411 on a few dope actresses and the roles they play in some of the SyFy channel’s hottest series.
Melissa O’Neil & Melanie Liburd, Dark Matter
In Dark Matter “the crew of a derelict spaceship is awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Facing threats at every turn – and the realization that they were wanted criminals pre-amnesia – they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal and hidden secrets.”
In the show Melissa O’Neil plays an advanced synthetic humanoid by the name of “Two”, formerly known as “Portia Lin”. She is an expert in martial arts, and holds a very integral part in the series and ongoing theme of the show. She’s no one’s sidekick, and as demonstrated over the past couple of seasons, is a force to be reckoned with.
Melanie Liburd made her first appearance in season 2 of Dark Matter and plays the role of Nyx Harper, a powerful fighter who prefers to roll solo. Nyx is also a “Seer”—the term for a race of people who possess psychic abilities. Nyx is very fond of weapons and has proven to be a valuable addition to the overall storyline.
Britne Oldford, Hunters
Hunters is a series that centers on Flynn Carol, an FBI agent investigating the disappearance of his wife Abby, “which leads him to a secret government unit assembled to hunt a group of ruthless terrorists called “Hunters” who are eventually revealed to be aliens.
In the series, Britne Oldford plays Allison Regan, the “most valuable operative of the Exo-Terrorism Unit (ETU).” She’s tough and authoritative, and definitely an asset in combat. She’s also good at tracking Hunters—is it because she’s a Hunter too?
Hannah John-Kamen, Killjoys
In Killjoys “a trio of bounty hunters, known as Killjoys, chase deadly warrants through the Quad, a distant area that is near the start of a violent class war among multiple planets.” In the series, Kamen stars as Yalena “Dutch” Yardeen, “leader of the top bounty hunter teams” in the Quad. A trained assassin and covert operative, Dutch is well versed in hand to hand combat and weapon skills, and has advanced level intelligence and interrogation skills as well.
Kellita Smith, Z-Nation
Move over AMC– Michonne isn’t the only bad ass woman slaying zombies. Z-Nation, a SyFy original series, is set in post-apocalyptic America several years after a zombie virus swept across the country, leaving only one hope for an antidote—a man by the name of Murphy. In the series, Smith plays Roberta Warren, an ex-National Guard Lieutenant and the de-facto leader of the Westward-bound Survivor Group. Roberta has been a central character throughout the majority of the series.
Dominique Tipper, The Expanse
The Expanse takes place “hundreds of years in the future. Humans have colonized the solar system and the U.N. controls Earth. Mars is an independent military power and the planets rely on resources from the Asteroid Belt, where air and water are more precious than gold. In the series Tipper plays Naomi Nagata, the Chief Engineer on board the ice hauler, Canterbury.” “Naomi’s early life was lived on a knife’s edge: nearly suffocating, starving, and becoming marooned were regular occurrences throughout her childhood. She is cagey about her past, even with her closest friends. She abhors violence, but has witnessed enough injustice to understand the necessity of it. Her complicated relationship with violence and her troubled history have lead to an unlikely friendship with the Canterbury‘s mechanic, Amos Burton.”
Rukiya Bernard, Van Helsing
A Sci-Fi & Horror mix, Van Helsing is set in the near future, where vampires have risen and taken control. A woman named Vanessa Van Helsing (Kelly Overton) is humanity’s last hope, as her unique blood composition gives her the ability to turn vampires human. With this secret weapon, Vanessa becomes a prime target for the vampires. In the series, Bernard plays “Doc”, a socially awkward, scientist who was turned during the early days of the vampire rising. Eventually, due to Vanessa’s unique blood composition, Doc is turned human again, only to struggle with reclaiming her humanity. Van Helsing is one of my faves on SyFy and I’m anxious for Season 2.
So what do you think? We don’t know about you, but SyFy is definitely capturing our interests as of late. Visit www.syfy.com for more information about each of the shows mentioned.
**Original version published 11/2016**
Tiara Janté is a Writer who enjoys producing content centered on blerd culture, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, topics pertaining to millennial women of color, and the hip hop culture. Tiara is a Staff Writer and Social Media Editor at BlackSci-Fi.com. Like her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/tiarajante and on Instagram: @tiarajante.