“She said, ‘I know all about that,’” Smith said. “That theme is entrenched in the African-American community. That goes back 150-300 years — that God is good, and that God has a plan and that somehow, someway, we will get home. The themes that we’re touching on are universal themes, themes that extend beyond science fiction and deal with matters of the human condition and spirit.”
No matter the genre, Smith’s one true test of whether he’ll be interested in a story or not is that it deals with the human condition.
“I am a fan stories from the heart,” Smith said. “I am a fan of stories that deal with the human condition and I can tell you on this show, even though it’s in space, I’d say it’s fundamentally about people understanding and dealing with the human condition. That can be in space or that can be two talking squirrels.”
Smith, who was raised by a single mother, remembers those early days well.
“I did a cartoon called ‘Hey Arnold!’ for seven years. I worked with 10 other kids,” he said. “It was like after school day care for two days a week. Acting and creating art, in a way, kept me out of trouble. I like any time that people of color get an opportunity on screen or in cartoons to transcend that and just be people.”
No matter what the critical response may be, Smith understands that many viewers won’t watch the series just because it’s in space.
“I understand why a lot of Black people don’t watch a lot of science fiction,” Smith said. “I can see how brothers can say, ‘It’s hard enough on Earth. I ain’t trying to see outer space, I’m trying to get it done right here.’ I get that. But I think we have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to expand and to continue to feed our cultural palette, and part of that experience can be exposing yourself to new shows you haven’t watched. I’m representing as a brother on the show. I’m exploring what it means to survive.”
Smith noted that as an African-American viewer, when he sees strong Black characters on the screen, he’s interested because he can relate.
“I’m extremely proud and excited to be a part of this, and it’s pushing the limits in different ways in terms of the editing, the lighting, the storyline,” he said. “We’re taking risks and we’re challenging ourselves.”
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