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 metro source. Minis, the official podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It's metro source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundred and ninety. Well, hello, hello, hello. This is metro source mini's host, Alexander Rodrie. Because, lead writer for Metro source and Avid Podcaster, I am a gay nerd and I am a trek EAP. Star Trek has now celebrated fifty five years has been responsible for generations of franchise spinoffs, including films, a multitude of TV shows and even cartoons. And though Star Trek has always push the envelope in terms of politics, classism, racism and gender equality, the Lgbtq family has just recently been welcome to the table, and today I'm chatting with actor Blue Del Barrio, leading the way for non binary actors and making Star Trek history along the way. They'll barrio was in their final years of studies at the London Academy of Music and dramatic art when they audition for and book the role of Adira for season three of Star Trek discovery season fourth, coming real fast, by the way, becoming the first non binary actor to portray star Treks, first non binary regular reoccurring character on a series. Because of activists in front of the camera and behind the camera in the Star Trek Universe, the Star Trek Universe remains relevant and, dare I say cool again? I think so. I chatted with blue for our current issue, available on news stands across the nation and, of course, at Metro Sourcecom. Please welcome blue. Tell body all. Number One. That's that. You know, you have this Argentinian culture. I think we've joked about it before. I just want to stand on the balcony, do the AVIDA arms, eat some good and and call it a day. Okay, we have to share. We both attended the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention Celebrating Fifty Five Years of Star Trek. I have to admit, as much as a trekky as I am, this was my very first convention, so I didn't know what to expect and, of course, you know, we were dealing with with safety protocol. I wasn't ready. I was there for a whole week, but this was your first kind of facetoface convention as well. Correct. Yeah, yeah, entirely so, terrifying, but very what was it? Did they prepare you for some of the fandom? I mean, I knew some of US trek he's could get a little into it, shall we say. I was not prepared. Did they give you like rules and and how to deal with trekky fans? They like, not the convention, but people like for my casted like I think every else and married did very much sort of like try to walk me through as much of what it was going to be like as possible. But it really I mean I didn't run into anything bad. It was lovely, like it was so nice. Well, that's what I really got from the week. There was just this real sense of family and I think because we've all, you know, gone through Covid and we've been through so much politically and socially and now healthwise, it really was this bonding and conversations ran around all of the franchises of Star Trek you know, you had your deep space niners, you had to your discovery, you had your og series, but we were all talking about the future of track and it was it was just so exciting. What surprised you most about meeting fans facetoface? I think I let me see, I don't know what's I was kind of preparing myself for everything, like yeah, everything and anything, and I think just...

...like the genuine joy and like Oh, like that. It's an overwhelming feeling, I think, to like meet so many people who actively want to like share their stories with you and connect with you, and in like a pretty intimate way and like quickly. Is I think I wasn't really prepared for like how tiring that is, like how it's it takes a bit out of you, and that's only because like I wanted to be there for every single person and every single person was making me feel like something really special in my heart. So it was like I went home and then slept for like twelve hours. Well, let's talk about that energy a little bit, because I know exactly what you're talking about. You have become such a spokesperson for the future of Star Trek. You've made star Trek history, but also as a spokesperson for the Lgbtq community as well. You always have that pressure to be on or to say the right thing or to make sure that somebody who has ten seconds to tell you how much they love you and why they love you and why they love Adira and why this is so important. You know, I've been on that side, like I met Mary Weisman for the first time and she was just there hanging out. It's like, how do you tell an actor from the Star Trek Universe how much they mean to you in the Star Trek Universe, but how much they're doing for the community at large? And you have to just take all of that. When you took this role, you weren't just showing up to the set and doing your part. You had to become this activist type role for our community and you've also had to become a spokesperson for the Star Trek Franchise, which you weren't the most familiar with going in. How did you deal with all of that kind of pressure? I mean some actors show up to set, they film and they show up for press day and and that's it, but you kind of are obligated to participate in so many different ways. How do you deal with that pressure? I think from like from the moment that I got this job, that I got the call that I was going to do this job, it I knew that it wasn't going to be. It might be like a I think this might be like a once in a whole lifetime experience of like the amount of myself that and like my care and time and love that I've put into this and how, like sometimes transparent it is between like story and my life. I think it's probably going to be one of the most unique things that I ever do. Because of that and for that reason, like it didn't feel like a huge leap to bring in the rest, to bring in, you know, talking about it publicly during like interviews and podcast like this, like it. It didn't feel like a hugely bitch. Just felt like, okay, well, this is this is part of it, and it everything felt very natural and correct. Like I I would not want to be talking about this. I want to be talking about this, all of it, all the time, like it's it's extremely important to me personally and in the world and in terms of our show and everything like it. It would feel weird to not. It would feel weird to just go to set in film and then leave. Yeah, well, I like that and I you know, you said it so correctly. You're always going to be able to look at this role and this point of your career and see how you changed as a person, as well as how the franchise of Star Trek has changed. You know, this is part of your history to like you mentioned now, entertainment has always been a part of your life. You took ballet, you started acting at age seven. You were a finalist for the National Young Arts Foundation for theater. What benefit did being so involved in the entertainment community while growing up have on your life that you wouldn't have experienced without the arts? I...

...it gave me. I mean it's such a hard question. I know it's so louded. You can go so many different directions. Yeah, I mean I don't I don't think that there was a world in which I didn't end up pursuing the arts in some way, like you said it. I didn't sort of go all over the place and like try a bunch of different aspects of it, but I think that's just been that way since I was a kid, and I think for multiple reasons. The the escapism part of it, the me the the like adrenaline verse that it gives you, the freedom that it gives you, the fear there is never I hate feeling settled. Like I hate just feeling like, okay, this is where I am now and this is going to be how it is forever. Like I just I constant change and constant trial and error and constant like looking into yourself, check in and see, like what's changed, see how you're feeling. That kind of vulnerability 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 like get by, and this is one of the only ones that it's like, okay, well, do both. Keep a really hard skin, but you're also going to have to do the rest and like the emotional work of it. I am I love that. You know you're right, like for people that have a corporate job, you sit at a desk from nine hundred and twent five and it's always give, give, give, and you're just kind of like a number. This is really a unique opportunity, like you said, to kind of work on yourself and and these roles. I know when I was on stage it was always those few minutes and I wasn't being bullied or I wasn't half to. You're worried about, you know, personal life, and, of course, the applause kind of help that you know, I you know I was. I was in my own for these few moments we talked about in the article. You grew up in California, you've moved to London, you made a home in London. Then you want 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 you consider a home? It's home, truly where your heart is? Or do you have do have a location that you're like h now, I can relax now, I'm home. I feels like London, weirdly, and I'm in La now, because that's why, I mean, I have roots here and everything and yeah, but yeah, I don't know. I don't know what it is. I think it's a mixture of like the people that I have there and just the place as a whole. I just very much want to end up there. All right, okay, well, we'll miss you. In California were like no, there ares, there are. Star Trek discovery has become such a hotbed a fan and critic discussion. It's broken many star trek norms. What do you say to fans who say that you're changing the world of Star Trek so much, and it's especially discovery. You know there's some fans that are quite not on board. What do you say to those Star Trek Fans? Um I think the though, the first and most important question I would ask people who might not feel super on board with discovery or super into it is like why is I think just to analyze why, and I mean that in terms of like the diversity and the queerness on our show. I think you know, there's it's it's like it'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 what was on your screen before was a different storyline and a universe that has billions of storylines with with characters like a Diarra and light gray and and and Hugh and Stam. It's all over the place, just not the ones on your screen at the moment. Yeah, exactly that. That's that's so beautifully put. Now, I know that you've done short films, but this was kind of your first big kind of on screen role and especially the dedmance of such a high paid show and then the demands of all the tech that's involved and then the super tight uniforms. You can't, you know, eat a craft services. It's like, give me a break. But what would you say on the learning the craft and learning the business? What do you think you learn the most from your first season on discovery? Um, Oh gosh, I I think I've learned and I'm still learning and it's made me want to learn more. The like just like completely a technically beautiful thing that is all like our entire crew and how how a huge crew on a big show like that works in in terms of like just making the day work, making everything work and making the show as as beautiful as it is. It's made me want to get into that and I knew I wanted to go. I I love every part of filmmaking and I've wanted to dive into every part. So it is a huge blessing to be, you know, on those massives down stages where there's like two hundred of us at everyone is incredible at their job, to watch those people and like see how they do what they do. I think it's so beautiful. This show, especially, you know, we have these new actors to the industry, but then we have these veterans that have been in the industry for so long and it's such a beautiful mishmash of of chemistry. There's a very unique chemistry about this franchise of deserve star Trek. Now, speaking for the non binary community, it kind of came along with the role, that kind of came along with the media push. What have you learned from the non binary community since coming out? What what has that community taught you? Or what have you learned? I've learned that then I have a lot more of the space and freedom to do what I need to do. I don't need to feel pressured into, you know, being a standalone voice for anyone. The people that I've met and the people that I've had conversations with and in terms of the the nonbinary and transibinary fan base is just there's just like a huge outpouring of love and support for for every part of ourselves. I think I felt I put this huge pressure on myself, you know, before you and I were even announced, to be like okay, well, I can't, I can't ruin this for anyone. I can't, I can't step out a line. I need to be like the best spokesperson possible. I need to like really be here for for my community in every way, and I put this huge weight on my shoulders that I don't think I was ready for or that anyone is just suddenly ready for. But the people that I've spoken to and had connected, like talk to and made connections with have just shown nothing but unconditional love and support in a way that has made me kind of like relax and calm down and feel more settled. You know, I have found that from having the opportunity to interview members of the Non Binary community and...

...having to teach myself. You know, when I came out there was gay and straight and that was it. That's all you could really do. And what I've loved about learning about the non binary communities that it's so fluid, fluid and it's ever evolving. I think the gay community has gotten kind of rigid and how we think and how we accept other people, even the way that we deal with in our own different factions of the gay community. We have become so labeled and so frigid. Rigid. I mean to say that we forget that we constantly have to 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 and the more we can change. There's no finality in our journey and that's what I love also about a deer's journey. On the show. You hit the season and there's so many beautiful moments and journeys that Adhira has has gone through and has taken, and I think it's really a testament to the community as a whole. You know, there's challenge is all along the way, but you you come out of it in a very beautiful way, learning more about yourself and people around you. You have answered many of the same media questions. Like I said, when you when your cast hits the circuit, it's like boom, boom boom. It's interview after interview after interview and that has to be exhausting. But sometimes the media sticks to the same kind of hot, hot topic questions or the same type of themes. In your opinion, what are questions or themes at the media should start asking you as an actor that we're kind of not asking or is there something that we're not covering? Oh that's a really good question. Um, I think in terms of like progress and moving forward in making sure that, you know, we're starting to have shows that you don't just have one like token queer character on them and then move on. I think it would be really nice and beneficial in terms of like everyone being able to see these interviews, including like casting directors, producers, directors writers, to ask forward thinking questions about like where our industry can go, how we can better the industry in terms of Lgbtq plus characters, like those kinds of questions. In that environment, I think would be genuinely beneficial to everyone, because I feel like there's still a lot of mostly sis heat writers, whites, as has right, head writers and people making these shows, and they're only they're only going off of like that's why we've still only really seen mainly a fab non binary characters like White, a bat on biting characters, because they see it on screen they go, oh, that's probably what that is. Right. So I feel like if we were asked these questions and interviews like about how to better things move things forward, that could actually be used for people like as a resource. I love that and I think we, as the media should inspire other media people to start asking these questions as well. I'm curious. You know, my generation, we just went through this awful political administration, the last voting election debacle. People were really split in my generation, and I'm not talking about the LGBTQ community, I'm talking about the Conservatives and the Liberals. We were tearing ourselves apart, we were tearing ourselves apart on social media, in in person, and I'm wondering your generation just seems to be a little bit more positive, a little bit more accepting. Is there this kind of divide that I've seen from my own peer group? Do you feel that your generation is divided like that as well? Is it less so? What's your take on that? It feels there are definitely divisions.

It feels like they're not so like just completely too side, and it feels like there's a multiple little divisions. It definitely feels like a little bit more chaotic in wonderful and bad ways, and I think a lot of that has to do with the state that our world is in, especially, like, you know, the world that Gen z comes into is a world that you know is every day. You'd see that, you know, Oh, like our our world in the way that it is, might end soon, like in terms of global warming and and the constant natural disasters that were having due to that. Like it's you're coming up into a world that already is like by it's ruined. God. So there is, but it's true, there is this. It's a good point. There's this genuine feeling that I keep seeing throughout all of Gen Z and some millennials even if like, okay, well, if, if this is it, if this is the world that I was brought into, I'm going to say whatever I want. I'm going to say what needs to be said when I do what needs to be done. You know, whether it's like eight years old, just thirteen years old, seventeen years old, whatever the age, just people who are pouring their hearts out and speaking their mind because they kind of came into a horrible situation. Yeah, I want to know. You know, we see the future of our community in the Star Trek Future and we see that we are part of the story lines where part of the family were welcome at the table. But in your opinion, what are the biggest obstacles you think the non binary community has to overcome in this very near future, and I'm not talking about the entertainment non binary community, I'm talking about the nonbinary community as a whole. What are your immediate obstacles? Immediate obstacles are, I mean, there are more and more, wonderfully, people coming out as nonbinary at a younger 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. I think one of the biggest things that we run into problems with is legislation surrounding and people trying 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 like it. These are crucial things. These are absolutely crucial things. And and again to like come into the world know that okay, something's wrong, there's a way to change it, I can change that, and then having the world or the government be like Nope, fuck you, you can't do that, having parents that will say no, it's like the most crucial time. It's why they're such a high suicide rate within the Trans Community. Like these are not things that we can legislate in the same way that like can't legislate abortion like it's you can you. These are not decisions for a government to make. These are decisions for the singular human being to make about their body in their lives. Yeah, and hopefully that that won't be we won't be in the same place and then...

...in the next few years. But yes, that is the biggest hurdle, I think. Have you ever thought about getting into politics? No, I don't. I think it yes and no, because it I already feel involved almost of the time. Well, as an activist, for sure. You know, I think we even saw from the latest SAG election. It's like wow, we that's so political too. It's like wow, what the hell? It's a tough environment. But you know, we kind of need youth involved in politics. But it's become so toxic. I just I just wanted to know if you would ever thought of dabbling in an official capacity. I don't. I don't know if it I mean if the occasion or opportunity came up where it would be like it would be a good fit and absolutely and if it was something that I really like. There is a lot that really needs to be changed. I really care about with my whole heart and soul. So yeah, if they're if there was an opportunity to, then I absolutely would. I do already feel very involved in the ways that I can be in an in an unofficial capacity. But yeah, like you said, it is a very toxic environment and I would be worried that it would just like eat away at me from the inside. But that being said, like people have to do it, we still have to do it to change that so that in the future it's not it's not. Getting into politics is not a thing that we eat you out from the inside. It's, like you know, but livable place where actual, good, positive change can get made without making everyone's hair turn gray, well blue. I have to tell you, you know, you being involved in the capacity that you are and the energy that you give. I was raised on the og series, Captain Kirk, I'm you know, that's my whole family. So, with discovery came around. Like some of the older fans, you know, some some of us are afraid of change because it's other people in what we hold sacred, and I just have to tell you that your energy and everything you've done for the show touches me on such a personal level, everything you've done for this progression of the Star Trek Universe, everything that you've done for me as a member of the Lgbtq community and the entertainment industry as a whole. I have to thank you so much for the time that you involve yourself with your fans, you know, with glad, with the community. I know it's more than a fulltime job, and so I really have to thank you for all of the work that you do. I I can't wait to see what your future holds. Thank you. I want this. Oh, I love you, blue. Okay, tell everybody where you want them to find you and follow you. Um, I'm I'm just blue delb on everything, instagram and twitter. That's it. Yeah, so easy. Now. I'm sure you can't, but are are there any hints or themes that you can talk about for season, for anything we should expect? Who Know? Trouble? So I can't give anything away, but they're there. Is like wonderful progression in terms of both a deer and gray story line and ADIRA's storyline with stammts and and hugh the all of that, like the four of those characters. There's a lot of like really great stuff. God, I'm very, very excited. Thank you. Thank you so much for chatting with me and enjoy the rest of your La Day before you run back to London. Thank you so...

...nice. Thank you so much. I will chat with you soon. Okay, that has been my chat with blue del Bar. You can read my indepth article with them in the latest issue of Metro source, available on news stands around the nation or at Metro sourcecom. Season four discovery will be hitting it very soon and I know the cast. I know this from my personal conversations with them. They have worked so hard on this season under some really challenging circumstances during covid and stopping and starting, also being isolated away from their family and friends for so many months to get the show made. So I'm very excited and that's our episode. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexander is on air and until next time, stay true, do you, and live long and prosper. That has been another metro source mini like share. Subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check out the latest issue of Metro Sports magazine on newstands or online at Metro sportscom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at metal source and on twitter at Metro Spurt mad until next time, thank fast.

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