By Clementine Poidatz, Actress
Frankly, I was ignorant. I freely admit that. Before I joined the cast of the National Geographic series, Mars, I didn’t know very much about Mars ― and to be honest I didn’t really care. Like many people, I didn’t see how it related to me and why we should spend the money to go to Mars when there are so many problems in the world today that I deemed more important.
But as I prepared for my theatrical role as a crew member of the first mission to Mars, something wonderful happened. As I studied for my part by watching videos, reading articles, and finding out as much as I could about how and why we plan to send humans to Mars, to my great surprise I found my perspective changing. Later, when I was on the set, I found an infectious passion among the crew and cast. I wasn’t the only one who was transformed by our participation in Mars. Many of my fellow cast members also discovered themselves as being passionate advocates for making humanity a multi-planet species. We all realized that this was not like an ordinary film project. Instead, we were part of something that was bigger and of more lasting importance. We had the potential to inspire students and show the world that sending human to Mars will be one of the most important and historic events in human history.
We need big dreams. Children in France (where I’m from) don’t seem to have big dreams these days. In fact, I’m not sure that they are even aware that sending humans to Mars is no longer science fiction but is now within our reach. I was born in 1981, and many people in my generation simply don’t believe that we as a species are capable anymore of doing great things. And I find that sad and even a little scary. This wasn’t the case when my parents were growing up. The world was far from perfect, but they had big dreams. My parents told me that the most amazing thing that they remember ― the event that inspired them and made them hopeful for the future ― was when the Apollo 11 astronauts first stepped foot on the surface of the Moon. They made small steps on the Moon, but it was a giant leap forward for humanity, and they came in peace for all humanity. Unfortunately, the most transforming memory I have (and I’m sure it’s true of my generation as a whole) is the September 11th attacks – clearly a very significant event, but not the type of event that makes anyone hopeful for the future. Sending humans to Mars, however, is my generation’s opportunity for a positive future, and we should embrace it.