Oyin Oladejo of 'Star Trek: Discovery' talks diversity and elephants for 'Endlings' Season 2 on Hulu (exclusive interview)

Less than two weeks after "Star Trek Discovery" wrapped up its third season in January, the new season of "Endlings" — another space series featuring a "Star Trek" star, actor Oyin Oladejo.

The second season of "Endlings" premieres on Hulu Friday (Jan. 15). For those who are new to the show, "Endlings" has a similar focus on environmentalism, diversity and space that you are used to in "Star Trek." However, the show is a little more geared towards a younger audience.

Without giving away any spoilers, the first season of "Endlings" focuses on four children who discover an alien on their foster father's property. This discovery sounds like the best thing ever for an imaginative bunch of kids, but the finding comes with a twist: the alien's species is on a quest to save endangered species from us humans on Earth, and not everyone agrees with what they are doing. 

"Star Trek: Discovery's" Oyin Oladejo as Abiona Maina in "The Endlings" Season 2 on Hulu and CBC. (Image credit: Hulu/CBC)

For example, Oladejo's character Abiona Maina is the caretaker of an elephant called Tuko, and has spent her entire life "on a focused mission to save animals," Oladejo told Space.com in an exclusive interview. 

"When that was torn away from her, she ended up in North America in this family. In thinking back on it, she starts to realize [in Season 2] that there are other people out there in the world doing the same thing she's doing," Oladejo said.

Maina, Oladejo continued, is a "very calculated, strong woman that has seen brutality" in her life. Getting to know the children, however, leads Maina to realize there is more than one way to be an environmentalist. "She sees these kids, and they're doing it with joy. They're doing it playfully, the same thing she's doing, and they're doing it with love," Oladejo added.

Nigerian-born Oladejo said her career in sci-fi came just as she was planning to give up on acting. She was working in the theatre industry in Toronto for about a decade and felt that something in her life was missing. She moved to the west coast to Vancouver, Canada and stayed there with friends, cleaning houses and taking other jobs to make ends meet. Still hesitant to return to acting, Oladejo took her agent's advice to do one last casting call, which ended up being the call for "Trek."

Season two for "Endlings," a science fiction series geared towards a younger audience, comes out Jan. 15, 2021.

Season two for "Endlings," a science fiction series geared towards a younger audience, comes out Jan. 15, 2021. (Image credit: Hulu/CBC)

Oladejo said that it is an honor to spend several seasons on "Trek," a franchise that celebrates diversity. After decades of showcasing actors from a variety of backgrounds, "Discovery" took the franchise even further in that direction this season by introducing the franchise's first non-binary and transgender starring characters, played by actors who are part of those communities. (A fourth season is coming in 2021, if the schedule holds.)

Oladejo, who is Black, said she has "my own issues I am going through" around diversity — and it was only after she moved to Canada as a teenager that she really became exposed to the importance and similar struggles of the LGBTQ+ community, among other marginalized groups. "Discovery," she added, gave her career value in "being able to be in a show that shows all of us diversity, and on some level, normalizes differences."

"Endlings" also shows the value of diversity in that it is celebrating the contributions of children as equals to adults, she said. "It's about letting go of the control of something that she [my character] spent decades and decades studying." After a pause, Oladejo laughed. "The arc I see her going in, she's affecting Oyin in real life, too." 

Season 2 of "The Endlings" premieres Jan. 15 on Hulu. You can try Hulu for one month free. The streaming service charges $5.99 a month, or $11.99 a month for ad-free viewing.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace