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“Chocolate in space, baby!”
That was the motto when the cast of the upcoming Syfy series Skyflyers stopped by EW’s Comic-Con studio in San Diego on Thursday. The phrase came from star David Ajala after Jodie Turner-Smith was asked about taking on the role of Melantha Jhirl.
In George R. R. Martin’s 1980 novella, the character was written as a black female, but when the story was reprinted, Jhirl appeared on the cover as a blonde white woman. It’s something that the author says he’s “been a little ashamed of that ever since.”
“When I read the novella, it’s like really obvious that she’s a black woman, which is why it’s so funny that it was ever cast differently,” Turner-Smith told EW’s Shirley Li. “But it’s just exciting to be a brown girl in this space. It’s sci-fi in actual space, but just in this sort of genre and everything, so that’s really exciting and it’s really exciting that George had that vision in the ’80s and that now we can finally sort of bring it to life.”
Recently, Martin addressed the matter, admitting, “I should have fought harder. I could have protested more. But, I didn’t. I did want my book to sell…. I look back on it now and I could have fought harder.” But when he saw the chance to right the wrong, he did his best, calling the show’s producers and sharing this message: “’Look. This is your project. I’m not going to look over your shoulder, give you story notes or script notes or anything like that, but dammit, I want Mel to be cast as a black actress.’”
And they obliged, with Martin “pleased that that injustice has finally been resolved after 30 years.”
Watch the full video of the Nightflyers cast above. The series premieres later this year on Syfy.