Star Trek Discovery's Blu Del Barrio: the Future of Non-Binary Space

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Star Trek now celebrating 55 years, has been responsible for generations of franchise spinoffs including films, a multitude of TV shows, and even cartoons. Though Star Trek has always pushed the envelope in introducing themes related to politics, classism, racism, & gender equality, the LGBTQ family has just been recently welcomed to the table. 

On this episode we chat with actor Blu Del Barrio, leading the way for non-binary actors and making Star Trek history along the way. Del Barrio was in their final year of studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) when they auditioned for and booked the role of Adira in Season 3 of Star Trek Discovery, becoming the first non-binary cast member as well as portraying Star Trek’s first non-binary regular recurring character on a series. Because of activists in front of and behind the camera in the Star Trek universe, Star Trek remains relevant and, dare we say, cool again?

We chatted about the importance of the arts in Blu's life growing up, their first Star Trek convention, the world of politics, the younger generation's take on the world, breaking Star Trek norms, finding your voice, and the hope of the future for the LGBTQ community. Hosted by Alexander Rodriguez

This is metrosource Menes, the officialpodcast to Metrosource magazine and home of short form interviews with yourfavorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond, quick fun andinformative. It's metral source on the go out in cousins. Make Nice well hello, hello, Hello! This ismetrosource minis I host Alexander redried rider for Metrosource and avidpodcaster. I am a gay nerd and I am a truck heap star. Trek has nowcelebrated fifty five years has been responsible for generations offranchise spinoffs, including films, a multitude of TV shows, and evencartoons, and no star Trek has always push the envelope in terms of politics,classism, racism and gender equality. The LGBTQ family has just recently beenwelcome to the table, and today I am chatting with actor Blue Del Barrio,leading the way for non binary actors and making Star Trek history along theway Debaroa in their final years of studies at the London Academy of Musicand dramatic art when they audition for and book the role of Adira for seasonthree of Star Trek discovery see some force coming real fast by the waybecoming the first non binary actor to portray star tracks. First, non binary,regular reoccurring, character on a series because of activists in front ofthe camera and behind the camera in the Star Track Universe, the Star TrekUniverse remains relevant and, dare I say, cool again, I think so. I chattedwith blue for our current issue available new stands across the nationand, of course, at Metro Sore Com. Please welcome blue town body of number one. That's a you know you havethis Argentinean culture. I think we've joked about it before I just want tostand on the balcony. Do the AVITA arms eat some good in and and call it a day,yeah? Okay, we have to share. We both tendedthe Star Trek Las Vegas Convention Celebrating Fifty Five Years of started.I have to admit as much as a tricky as I am. This was my very first convention,so I didn't know what to expect and of course you know we were dealingwith with safety protocol. I wasn't ready. I was there for a whole week,but this was your first kind of face to face convention as well correct, yeahyeah entirely, so it was terrifying but very wet. Thus, did they prepare youfor some of the fandom I mean I knew some of us. Tracky could get a little into it. Shall we say I was uppered.Did they give you like rules and how to deal with tracky fans? They, like notthe convention but Pol, like from my cast, did like anything everybody elseand married in very much sort of o trying to walk me through asmuch of what it was going to be like as possible, but it really I mean I didn't run intoanything bad. It was lovely like it was so nice. Well, that's what I really got from theweek. There was just this real sense of family and I think because we've allyou know gone through Ovid and we've been through so much politically andsocially and now health wise. It really was this bonding and conversations ranaround all of the franchises of Star Trek. You know you had your deep spaceniners, you had to your discovery. You had your og series, but we were alltalking about the future of track and it was. It was just so exciting what surprised you most about needingfans face to face. I think I let me see I don't know. What's I waskind of preparing myself for everything like yeah everything and anything, and I think...

...just like the genuine joy and like Oh,like the it's, an overwhelming feeling I think to like meet so many people whoactively want to like share their stories with you and connect with you in like a pretty intimate way and likequickly yeah is. I think I wasn't totally prepared forlike how tiring that is like how it's it takes a bit out of you, and that'sonly because, like I wanted to be there for every single person and everysingle person was making me feel like something really special in my heart,so it was slike. I went home and then slept for like twelve hours. Well, let's talk about that energy alittle bit, because I know exactly what you're talking about you have becomesuch a spokesperson for the future of Star Trek. You've made star truckhistory, but also as a spokesperson for the Lgbtq community as well. You alwayshave that pressure to be on or to say the right thing or to make sure thatsomebody e who has ten seconds to tell you how much they love you and why theylove you and why they love Adira and why this is so important. You know I'vebeen on that side like I met Mary Wiseman for the first time and she wasjust there hanging out. It's like how do you tell an actor from the Star TrekUniverse, how much they mean to you in the Star Trek Universe, but how muchthey're doing for the community at large- and you have to just take all ofthat when you took this role, you weren'tjust showing up to the set and doing your part, you had to become this activist typerole for our community and you've also had to become a spokesperson for thestar check franchise, but you weren't the most familiar with going in. How did you deal with all of that kindof pressure? I mean some actors show up to set they film and they show up forpress day and that's it, but you kind of are obligated to participate in somany different ways. How do you deal with that pressure? I think from like from the moment thatI got this job, that I got the call that I was going to do this job it. Iknew that it wasn't going to be, it might be like A. I think this might belike a once Ben a whole lifetime experience of like the amount of myselfthat and like my care and time and love that I've put into this and how, like sometimes transparent, itis between like story and my life. I think it's probably going to be one ofthe most unique things that I ever do because of that, and for that reason like it didn't feellike a huge leap to bring in the rest to bringin you know talking about it, probably during like interviews and and podcastlike this, like it, it didn't feel like a huge ly, but justfelt like okay well, this is this is part of it and it everything felt very natural and correct, like I, I wouldn'tnot want to be talking about this. I want to be talking about this, all ofit all the time like it's, it's extremely important to me personallyand in the world and in terms of our show and everything like it would feelweird to not. It would feel weird to just go to Satan film and then leave yeah. Well, I like that- and you knowyou said it so correctly- you're always going to be able to look at this rolein this point of your career and see how you changed as a person as well ashow the franchise of Star Trek has changed. You know this is part of yourhistory too. Like you mentioned, no entertainment has always been a part ofyour life. You took ballet, you started acting in eight seven, you were afinalist for the National Young Arts Foundation for theater. What benefitdid being so involved in the entertainment community, while growingup have on your life that you wouldn't have experienced without the arts...

I it gave me, I mean it. It's such a hard question. Now it's soloaded, you can go so many different directions. Yeah I mean I don't. Idon't think that there was a world in which I didn't end up pursuingthe arts in some way. Like you said, I did sort of go allover the place and like try a bunch of different aspects of it,but I think that's I just been that way. Since I was a kid-and I think for multiple reasons, the the escapismpart of it, the the the like Adrenalin Vesta, itgives you the freedom that it gives you the fear. There is never. I hatefeeling settled like I hate just feeling like okay. This is where I amnow, and this is going to be how it is forever like I just I constant changeand constant trial and error and constant, like looking into yourselfcheck in and see like, what's changed, see how you're feeling that kind ofvulnerability is something that I feel like gets shut out in, like almost every other profession,because it because people force you to like and you need to to kind of likeget by- and this is one of the only ones that it's like okay well, do bothkeep a really hard skin, but you're also going to have to do the rest and,like the emotional work of it, I no. I love that you know you're right likefor people that have a corporate job. You sit at a desk from nine to five andit's always give give give and you're just kind of like a number. This isreally a unique opportunity, like you said, to kind of work on yourself andand these rules I know when I was on stage. It was always those few minutesand I wasn't being bullied or I wasn't have to you know, worried about youknow personal life and, of course, the applause kind of helps that you know Iyou know I was. I was in my own for these few moments we talked about in the article you grewup in California, you've moved to London, you made a home in London, thenyou had to go film for months in Canada as part of the cast, but then isolated.You know under safety protocol. Where is your heart right now, where youconsider a home is home truly where your heart is or do you have? You have a location that you're likenow I can relax now, I'm home. I feels like London weirdly and I'm in La now, because that's Imean I have roots here and everything and Yeah but yeah I don't know, I don'tknow what it is. I think it's a mixture of like the people that I have thereand just the place as a whole. I just very muchwant to end up there. All right, okay, well, we'll miss youin California were like no, there are, there are star trick. Discovery has become such ahot bed, a fan and critic discussion. It's broken many star trek norms. Whatdo you say to fans who say that you're changing the worldof Star Trek so much and especially discovery? You know, there's some fansthat are quite not on board. What do you say to those Star Trek Fans? I think the the first and most important question. Iwould ask people who might not feel super on board with discovery orsuper into it is like. Why is, I think, just toanalyze? Why and I mean that, in terms of of likethe diversity and the queerness on our show, I think you know there's it's it's likeit's scary, to see something that you love, so much change and look different,but also in the world of Star Trek it.

It doesn't mean that these stories,weren't already there like it's just that it was on your screen before- wasa different story line and a universe that has billions of story lines with withcharacters like a Deriai, Ray and and and hue and stamets all over the place,just not the ones on your screen at the moment, yeah exactly that, that's that's sobeautifully put now. I know that you've done shortfilms, but this was kind of your first big kind of onscreen role andespecially the Neman of such a high pay show and then the demands of all thetech that's involved, and then the super tight uniforms. You can't, youknow, eat at craft services. It's like give me a break, but what would you sayon the learning, the craft and learning the business? What do you think youlearn the most from your first season on discovery? Oh Gosh, I think I learned and I'm still learning and it'smade me want to learn more, the like just like completely technically abeautiful thing that is like our entire crew and how how a hugecrew on a big show like that works and in terms of like just making the day work, makingeverything work and making the show, as as as beautiful as it is. It's made me want to get into that, and I knew I wanted togo. I I love every part of filmmaking and I wanted to dive into every part,so it is a huge blessing to be. You know on those massive stone stageswhere there's like two hundred of us and everyone is incredible at their job,to watch those people and like see how they do what they do. I think it's sobeautiful this show, especially you know. We have these new actors to theindustry, but then we have these veterans that have been in the industryfor so long and it's such a beautiful mishmash of of of chemistry. There's avery unique chemistry about this franchise of this of star truck. Now speaking for the non binarycommunity, it kind of came along with the role itkind of came along with the media. Push. What have you learned from the MinBinary community since coming out? What has that community taught you, or whathave you learned? I've learned that I have a lot more of the space andfreedom to do what what I need to do. I don't need to feel pressured into you know, being a standalone voice foranyone, the people that I've met and the peoplethat I've had conversations with in terms of the D, The non binary andTrans on binary fan base is just there's just like a huge outpouring oflove and support for for every part of ourselves. I think I felt I put thishuge pressure on myself. You know before you and I were evenannounced to be like okay. Well, I can't I can't ruin this for anyone. Ican't I can't step out of line. I need to be like the best folks personpossible. I need to like really be here for for my community in every way, andI put this huge weight on my shoulders that I don't think I was ready for orthat anyone is just suddenly ready for, but the people that I've spoken to andhad connected like talked to and made connections with, have just shownnothing but unconditional, love and support in a way that has made me kindof like relax and calm down and feel more settled. You know I have found that from havingthe opportunity to interview members of...

...the Non Barnay community and having toteach myself. You know when I came out there was gay and straight, and thatwas it that's all you could really do and what I've loved about learningabout the non binary communities that it's so fluid fluid and it's everevolving. I think the gay community has gotten kind of rigid and how we thinkand how we accept other people even the way that we deal with in our owndifferent factions of the gay community. We have become so labelled and sofrigid rigid. I mean to say that we forget that we constantly haveto evolve and there is no label that we have to adhere to that sticks with us.The more we learn about ourselves, the more we learn about other people andthe more we can change, there's no finality in our journey and that's whatI love also about a deer's journey on the show. You know you hit the seasonand there's so many beautiful moments and journeys that Adira has has gonethrough and has taken, and I think it's really a a testament to the communityas a whole. You know there's challenges a along the way, but you you come outof it, I'm in a very beautiful way, learning more about yourself and peoplearound you. You have answered many of the samemedia questions like I said when you, when your cast hits the circuit. It'slike bone bone, bowets interview after interview after interview, and that hasto be exhausting, but sometimes the media sticks to the same kind of H, hottopic, questions or the same type of themes. In your opinion, what arequestions or themes that the media should start asking you as an actorthat we're kind of not asking or is there something that we're not covering? Oh, that's a really good question. I think, in terms of like progress and moving forward in makingsure that you know we're starting to have shows that you don't just have onelike token queer character on them and then move on. I think it would bereally nice and beneficial in terms of, like everyone being ableto see these interviews, including, like casting directors, producers,directors, writers, to ask forward thinking questions about like where ourindustry can go, how we can better the industry in terms of lgbtq pluscharacters. Like those kinds of questions in thatenvironment, I think, would be genuinely beneficial to everyone,because I feel like there's still a lot of mostly SIS hat writers. White is hashead writers and people making these shows and they're on LE they're. Onlygoing off of like that's. Why you've still only really seen mainly a fab nonbinary characters like white, a Patomac just because they see it on screen.They go, Oh that's, probably what that is right, so I feel like if we wereasked these questions and interviews like about how to better things, movethings forward that could actually be used for people like as as a resource. I love that and I think we as the mediashould inspire other media people to start asking these questions as well.I'm curious, you know my generation, we just went through this awful politicaladministration. The last voting of election debacle people were reallysplit in my generation and I'm not talking about the LGBTQ community. I'mtalking about conservatives and the Liberals. We were tearing ourselvesapart. We were tearing ourselves apart on social media in person, and I'mwondering your generation just seems to be a little bit more positive, a littlebit more accepting. Is there this kind of dividethat I've seen from my own peer group? Do you feel that your generation isdivided like that as well? Is it less so...

...w? What's your take on that, it feels there are definitely divisions. It feels like they're, not so like just completely too sided. It feelslike there's a multiple little divisions. It definitely feels like alittle bit more chaotic and wonderful and bad ways, and I think a lot of thathas to do with the state that our world is in. especially like you know the world thatgens comes into is a world that you know is the every day you see thatyou know Oh, like our our world and the way that it is might end soon, like in terms of global warming and theconstant natural disasters that were having due to that, like it's you're, coming up into a world thatalready is like by it's ruined God. So there is. But it's true thereis this. That's a good point, there's this genuine feeling that I keep seeing throughoutall of gens and similes, even if like okay. Well, if this is, if this is theworld that I was brought into, I'm going to say whatever I want, I'm goingto say what needs to be said. When I do what needs to be done, you know whetherit's like eight years old, thirteen years old,seventeen years old, whatever the age, just people who are pouring theirhearts out and speaking their mind, because theykind of came into a horrible situation. Yeah I want to know you know we see thefuture of art community in the Star Trek Future, and we see that we arepart of the story. Lines were part of the family were welcome at the table.But in your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles you think the nonbinary community has to overcome in this very near future, and I'm nottalking about the entertainment non binary community, I'm talking about thenon binary community as a whole. What are your immediate obstacles? Immediateobstacles are, I mean there are more and more wonderfully people coming out as Numbin ARY at ayounger age, because the language is there and and because of honestly,because of social media and people being able to share their stories. I think that that's been possible. Ithink one of the biggest things that we run intoproblems with is legislation surrounding a D and peopletrying to take control over medically transitioning at a young age is our massive problem throughout most of America, and it's really terrifying, because that being trans at a young age I like it.These are crucial things he's absolutely crucial things and andagain to like come into the world, know that okay something's wrong, there's away to change it. I can change that and then having the world or the governmentbe like no fuck you, you can't do that. Having parents that'll say no, it'slike the most crucial time. It's why there's such a high suicide rate withinthe Drin community, like these are not things that we canlegislate in the same way that, like can't, legislate abortion like it, youcan you. These are not decisions for agovernment to make these are decisions for the singular human being to makeabout their body and their lives yeah, and hopefully, that that won't be.We won't be in the same place in the in...

...the next few years, but yes, that is the biggest hurdle Ithink have you ever thought about getting into politics? No, I don't. I think it yes, and no, because I already feel involved a most of the time. Well,as an activist for sure you know, I think we even saw from thelatest SAG election. It's like wow. We that's so political too. It's like wowwhat the hell it's a tough environment, but you know we kind of need youthinvolved in politics, but it's become so toxic. I just I just wanted to knowif you had ever thought of dabbling in an official capacity. I don't I don't know. If it I mean if the occasional opportnity came up whereit would be like it would be a good fit and absolutely, and if it was somethingthat I really like there is a lot that really needs to be changed that Ireally care about with my whole heart and soul, so yeah. If there, if there was anopportunity to then I absolutely would. I do alreadyfeel very involved in the ways that I can be in an unofficial capacity, but yeah like you said it is a verytoxic environment and I would be worried that it would just like eat away at me from the inside. But that being said, like people haveto do it like, we still have to do it to change that, so that in the futureit's not it's not getting into politic is not a thing that we chew out fromthe inside. It's like you know a livable place where actual goodpositive change can get made without making everyone's hair turngray. What blue? I have to tell you, you knowyou being involved in the capacity that you are and the energy that you give. I was raised on the OG series. CaptainKirk, I you know that's my whole family. So when discovery came around like someof the older fans, you know some some of us are afraid of change, becauseit's other people in what we hold sacred, and I just have to tell youthat your energy and everything you've done for the show touches me on such apersonal level. Everything you've done for this progression of the Star TrekUniverse, everything that you've done for me as a member of the Lgbtqcommunity and the entertainment industry as a whole. I have to thankyou so much for the time that you involve yourself with your fans. Youknow with glad with the community. I know it's more than a full time job,and so I really have to thank you for all of the work that you do. I can'twait to see what your future holds. Thank you a Oh. I love you, blue, okay, tell everybody where you wantthem to find you and follow you, I'm I'm just blue del B on everything,instagram and twitter. That's IT Yeah! So easy! No, I'm sure you can't, but are thereany hints or themes that you can talk about for season? For anything, weshould expect who no O my trouble can't give anythingaway, but there there is like wonderful progression in terms of both a deer and gray storyline and adiras storyline with stammed and and he all of that, like the four of thosecharacters, there's a lot of like really great stuff, God, I'm very, veryexcited. Thank you. Thank you so much for chatting with me and enjoy the restof your La Day before you run back to...

London. So I thank you so much. I will chatwith you so, okay, that has been my chat with blue allbarry. You can read my in depth article with them in the latest issue ofmetrosource available on new stands around the nation or at metrosourceseason for discovery will be hitting it very soon and I know the cast. I knowthis from my personal conversations with them. They have worked so hard onthis season under some really challenging circumstances during Ovidand stopping and starting also being isolated away from their family andfriends for so many months to get the show maid. So I'm very excited andthat's our episode, I'm your host Alexander Rodriguez, you can follow meon Instagram at Alexander, is on air and until next time stay true, do youand live long and prosper? That has been another metrosource. Manyblack share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latestissue of Metrosource magazine on new stands or online at metiscus. Follow uson Facebook, Instagram, a natest and on cinere hat a horse man until next time,a D.

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