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8 Quick Questions for Michelle Hurd

Actress takes pride in showcasing her ‘Star Trek: Picard’ character’s struggles, hopes for show spin-off

spinner image michelle hurd leaning face on hand; gray background
Maarten De Boer/Contour by Getty Images

As Raffi Musiker on the final season of Star Trek: Picard, actress Michelle Hurd, 56, is on the trail of stolen weapons in an attempt to stop a terrorist attack. But back on Earth, the native New Yorker is busy on set in Sydney, where she’s processing the end of Picard and the loss of her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit castmate, Richard Belzer.

What are you doing in Australia?

I’m shooting a film. It’s a big Sony Studio movie with a release date in an actual theater and all that kind of stuff. I’m really excited. It’s a fun rom-com project, which I feel like we all need a little of right now — a little positive, a little love.

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Do you enjoy traveling for work?

I do love the travel part of getting to explore different countries and different states and I’ve done this many times. When I did [the TV series] Ash vs Evil Dead, I was in New Zealand for five months. I’ve had just a few days [in Australia]. I was celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday, and she wanted to do a Caribbean cruise, and there just happened to be a weekend cruise in Miami that worked out perfectly. I flew from Miami to California to Sydney, and the same day that I landed, I had fittings, hair and makeup and all that stuff. I am completely out of sorts right now. I don’t really know where I am yet.

When you get settled and have time to yourself, what will you do?

I’m a fitness person, so I will find a gym. Because that’s my most important thing — to be able to find where I’m going to work out. That’s my church. [My body is] my temple, and it’s the only one I’ve got, so I want to make sure I take care of her. So the first thing I’ll do is locate a gym, and then I’ll be calm. I just downloaded [Sydney’s] little bike app, so I’m just going to get on a bike and tool around.

Do you feel sad that Star Trek: Picard is ending?

Of course. I’ve been traveling, so I’m a little bit wobbly — I could literally just break down right now. Just saying that gets me emotional, because it was an amazing experience. People don’t realize it — especially this last season — we had all these iconic people come back and it’s phenomenal. They’ve been doing it for the time of their series and then the 20 years after they’ve remained friends. … They’re core creations of this legacy. I’ve had three seasons, that’s it. Thirty episodes of the most fulfilling, exciting, delicious character with the most, just beautiful group of people that I have been given the gift to work with. And then to just do 30 episodes of that and then to say, “Ciao, see you guys later” is crazy. What’s wonderful is Michael Dorn and Patrick [Stewart] and Jonathan [Frakes] keep saying, “Michelle, never say never when it comes to Star Trek. … You’re part of this family for the rest of your life.” … It was so emotional for me to say my last line. I said my last line and then stood there and said, “Is that the last time I’ll ever speak as Raffi?” … It seems wrong.

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You’re also processing the recent death of Richard Belzer.

spinner image richard belzer as detective john munch and michelle hurd as detective monique jefferies from law & order s v u
Hurd starred as detective Monique Jefferies alongside Richard Belzer as detective John Munch in “Law & Order: SVU.”
Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

It’s heartbreaking. Belzer, he’s iconic. It’s hard to put into words what this man was like or contributed. I always remember, during our off time we would have these really interesting sort of conspiracy theory conversations. I was so young, and I was, like, What? Really? Oh my God! I did Law & Order proper — the mothership — back in the day before I did SVU, and it was with Jerry Orbach and Benjamin Bratt. And I remember my friends,  when I told them I was doing this guest [appearance], they were, like, “Oh my God, you’re going to hang out with Benjamin Bratt!” because he’s such a cutie. I was like, “No, oh my God, I’m going to hang out with Jerry Orbach!” It was kind of the same with Richard Belzer, because it’s Richard Belzer. He had these stories. Also, he could give you — I don’t want to say cheats — but little tricks and stuff. He used to say that when he was younger and he would get a script, he was always like, “How many lines do I have?” But as he got older he would see, “How many days do I have off?” We lost another good one. Rest in peace.

How do you feel about the rumors that Raffi might get her own spin-off?

I’ve heard so many rumors. I would love to have a Raffi spin-off, obviously. Jeri [Ryan, who plays Seven of Nine] and I, we would love to have a spin-off with Raffi and Seven of Nine. That would be phenomenal. I trust the producers and the creators. I know they’re already working on some other new iterations of stuff that’s been in the works for a while. So, there’s a queue I have to be in. At the same time — and this is what I have received when I’ve gone to the comic cons [comic book conventions] — Raffi has a very unique voice and point of view in the world of Star Trek. She’s not the perfect silhouettes that we have seen sometimes in the Star Trek world. She’s absolutely complicated. She struggles. She has an addiction that she’s working every day to stay ahead of. The people at the comic cons — people who are recovering addicts, people in the LGBTQ community, people in the neurodiverse community — were so appreciative of seeing themselves represented in the world. It’s so humbling, and I accept the responsibility so much. They literally cry and they say, “Thank you for giving us a voice and letting us feel seen and heard.”

Were you always a Star Trek fan?

Honestly, I was and I’m just amazed at Gene Roddenberry. You feel like he had a crystal ball or something. Because … he just knew injustice, and he really wanted to amplify and give some kind of a way of putting it out there without preaching. Because the topics that he put into the original series are so pertinent today. Back in the day — I’m Black and white; my mother is white from Blackwell, Oklahoma, German-Irish, and my father is Black, Jamaican-Scottish, and grew up in Harlem —  and [my father] knew that his three brown girls needed to see themselves, to see themselves in this world. So one of the shows that we would watch in reruns when we were little was Star Trek, specifically Nichelle Nichols [who played Lieutenant Uhura]. People don’t realize, but whether it’s conscious or unconscious, optics really matter. Because just seeing this woman of color on the bridge in a place of power and purpose and authority with such grace and strength literally put in our minds the permission to be bold and to be present and to dream big. It made you see that we could do anything. We’re in space. We’re in space with responsibility. So my connection with Star Trek was through my family, and specifically through Uhura and her impact on little brown and Black girls. Super important.

As you’ve moved through your 50s, how do you feel about aging?

Every day aboveground is a gift. Nobody is promised tomorrow, and to make that assumption is a fool’s errand. … So I’m thankful that we’re all still here doing what we can. And I’m going to just do the best I can to make this body, this person, this brain as strong and as healthy for as many years as I possibly can.

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