- Babs Olusanmokun brings depth and warmth to the character of Dr. M’Benga in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, adding more depth and likability compared to his previous appearances in TOS.
- In Strange New Worlds, Dr. M’Benga is portrayed as a highly-skilled fighter and combat medic with a complicated history, including his involvement in the Klingon War and Starfleet special forces.
- The creators of Strange New Worlds incorporated Olusanmokun’s real-life Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills into the character of Dr. M’Benga, adding an additional layer of authenticity and depth to the character’s abilities.
Nigerian-born actor Babs Olusanmokun plays Dr. Joseph M’Benga in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. Dr. M’Benga was first introduced in the Star Trek: The Original Series season 2 episode “A Private Little War,” where the character was played by Booker Bradshaw. M’Benga would only make one more appearance in TOS season 3’s “That Which Survives.” In Strange New Worlds, Dr. M’Benga serves as the Chief Medical Officer on the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount). Dr. M’Benga has a complicated history not only as an excellent healer but also as a highly-skilled fighter.
By the time of Star Trek: The Original Series, Dr. M’Benga has stepped down as Chief Medical Officer and was replaced by Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (DeForest Kelley), though M’Benga still serves as a general physician on the Enterprise. The only significant piece of information learned about Dr. M’Benga in TOS was that he had extensive knowledge of Vulcan physiology because he completed his medical internship on the planet Vulcan. With not much to go on, Strange New Worlds and Babs Olusanmokun have managed to reinvent the character in a fascinating way.
Babs Olusanmokun & Dr. M’Benga In Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Explained
Prior to his time as the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer, M’Benga served as a combat medic in the Klingon War, which is where he first met Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush). At some point during his service, M’Benga was an operative in the Starfleet special forces where he earned the nickname “Ghost” and held the record for the most confirmed hand-to-hand kills. M’Benga was also stationed on the front lines at J’Gal, where he reluctantly took up a weapon again despite his decision to focus on medicine. M’Benga became the CMO of the Enterprise in the late 2250s alongside Nurse Chapel. He has a daughter named Rukiya (Sage Arrindell), who suffered from an incurable illness and eventually joined an alien entity to become a being of pure consciousness.
Babs Olusanmokun has been acting since 2004 and has appeared as a guest star on episodes of several popular television shows, including Veronica Mars, Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Blue Bloods, The Blacklist, and Gotham. He starred in the History Channels 2016 reimagining of Roots as Omoro Kinte. Olusanmokun also appeared in Marvel’s The Defenders as Sowande and in the Black Mirror episode “Black Museum.” He played General Azikiwe in Prime Video’s The Widow, and Damian in the miniseries Too Old to Die Young. Olusanmokun appeared in Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man and Denis Villeneuve’s Dune in 2021. Babs Olusanmokun has a third-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which the creators of Strange New Worlds incorporated into the character of Dr. M’Benga.
How Strange New Worlds Changed Dr. M’Benga From Star Trek: TOS For The Better
Since he only appeared in two episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, not much was known about Dr. M’Benga prior to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In the TOS episode “A Private Little War,” Dr. M’Benga used his knowledge of Vulcan physiology to help Spock after he was shot with an old-school firearm. M’Benga does not get much screen time, but he proves to be an extremely competent doctor, if a bit detached. M’Benga’s subsequent TOS appearance, in “That Which Survives,” is even briefer as he supervises the autopsy of an Enterprise crewman who died mysteriously.
Babs Olusanmokun’s portrayal of M’Benga has brought more depth to the character and Strange New Worlds has given him a fascinating backstory. Olusanmokun plays Dr. M’Benga with a warmth that the character lacked in TOS. Despite his violent background, M’Benga’s compassion and care for his patients is obvious. Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has not only filled in Dr. M’Benga’s background, but Olusanmokun’s portrayal has also made him a more compelling and likable character.