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 yourfavorite personalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It'smetro source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundredand ninety. Well, hello, hello, hello. This is metro source mini'shost, Alexander Rodrie. Because, lead writer for Metro source and AvidPodcaster, I am a gay nerd and I am a trek EAP. StarTrek 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 thoughStar Trek has always push the envelope in terms of politics, classism, racismand 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 fornon binary actors and making Star Trek history along the way. They'll barrio wasin their final years of studies at the London Academy of Music and dramatic artwhen they audition for and book the role of Adira for season three of StarTrek discovery season fourth, coming real fast, by the way, becoming the firstnon binary actor to portray star Treks, first non binary regular reoccurring character ona series. Because of activists in front of the camera and behind thecamera in the Star Trek Universe, the Star Trek Universe remains relevant and,dare I say cool again? I think so. I chatted with blue forour 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 thinkwe'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 VegasConvention Celebrating Fifty Five Years of Star Trek. I have to admit, as muchas a trekky as I am, this was my very first convention,so I didn't know what to expect and, of course, you know, wewere dealing with with safety protocol. I wasn't ready. I was therefor a whole week, but this was your first kind of facetoface convention aswell. Correct. Yeah, yeah, entirely so, terrifying, but verywhat was it? Did they prepare you for some of the fandom? Imean, 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 likerules and and how to deal with trekky fans? They like, not theconvention, but people like for my casted like I think every else and marrieddid very much sort of like try to walk me through as much of whatit was going to be like as possible. But it really I mean I didn'trun into anything bad. It was lovely, like it was so nice. Well, that's what I really got from the week. There was justthis 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 ofStar Trek you know, you had your deep space niners, you had toyour discovery, you had your og series, but we were all talking about thefuture of track and it was it was just so exciting. What surprisedyou most about meeting fans facetoface? I think I let me see, Idon'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 somany people who actively want to like share their stories with you and connectwith you, and in like a pretty intimate way and like quickly. IsI think I wasn't really prepared for like how tiring that is, like howit's it takes a bit out of you, and that's only because like I wantedto be there for every single person and every single person was making mefeel like something really special in my heart. So it was like I went homeand then slept for like twelve hours. Well, let's talk about that energya little bit, because I know exactly what you're talking about. Youhave become such a spokesperson for the future of Star Trek. You've made starTrek 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 orto make sure that somebody who has ten seconds to tell you how much theylove you and why they love you and why they love Adira and why thisis so important. You know, I've been on that side, like Imet 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 howmuch they mean to you in the Star Trek Universe, but how much they'redoing for the community at large? And you have to just take all ofthat. When you took this role, you weren't just showing up to theset and doing your part. You had to become this activist type role forour 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 dealwith all of that kind of pressure? I mean some actors show up toset, 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 momentthat I got this job, that I got the call that I was goingto 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 awhole lifetime experience of like the amount of myself that and like my care andtime 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 beone of the most unique things that I ever do. Because of that andfor that reason, like it didn't feel like a huge leap to bring inthe rest, to bring in, you know, talking about it publicly duringlike interviews and podcast like this, like it. It didn't feel like ahugely bitch. Just felt like, okay, well, this is this is partof it, and it everything felt very natural and correct. Like II would not want to be talking about this. I want to be talkingabout this, all of it, all the time, like it's it's extremelyimportant to me personally and in the world and in terms of our show andeverything like it. It would feel weird to not. It would feel weirdto just go to set in film and then leave. Yeah, well,I like that and I you know, you said it so correctly. You'realways going to be able to look at this role and this point of yourcareer and see how you changed as a person, as well as how thefranchise of Star Trek has changed. You know, this is part of yourhistory to like you mentioned now, entertainment has always been a part of yourlife. You took ballet, you started acting at age seven. You werea finalist for the National Young Arts Foundation for theater. What benefit did beingso involved in the entertainment community while growing up have on your life that youwouldn't have experienced without the arts? I...

...it gave me. I mean it'ssuch a hard question. I know it's so louded. You can go somany different directions. Yeah, I mean I don't I don't think that therewas 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 placeand like try a bunch of different aspects of it, but I think that'sjust been that way since I was a kid, and I think for multiplereasons. The the escapism part of it, the me the the like adrenaline versethat it gives you, the freedom that it gives you, the fearthere 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 howit is forever. Like I just I constant change and constant trial and errorand 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 feellike gets shut out in like almost every other profession, because it because peopleforce 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 tohave to do the rest and like the emotional work of it. I amI love that. You know you're right, like for people that have a corporatejob, you sit at a desk from nine hundred and twent five andit's always give, give, give, and you're just kind of like anumber. This is really a unique opportunity, like you said, to kind ofwork on yourself and and these roles. I know when I was on stageit was always those few minutes and I wasn't being bullied or I wasn'thalf to. You're worried about, you know, personal life, and,of course, the applause kind of help that you know, I you knowI was. I was in my own for these few moments we talked aboutin 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 monthsin Canada as part of the cast, but then isolated, you know,under safety protocol. Where is your heart right now? Where you consider ahome? It's home, truly where your heart is? Or do you havedo 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 andyeah, 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 andjust the place as a whole. I just very much want to end upthere. All right, okay, well, we'll miss you. In California werelike no, there ares, there are. Star Trek discovery has becomesuch 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 ofStar Trek so much, and it's especially discovery. You know there's some fansthat are quite not on board. What do you say to those Star TrekFans? Um I think the though, the first and most important question Iwould ask people who might not feel super on board with discovery or super intoit is like why is I think just to analyze why, and I meanthat in terms of like the diversity and the queerness on our show. Ithink you know, there's it's it's like it's scary to see something that youlove so much change and look different.

But also in the world of StarTrek it it doesn't mean that these stories weren't already there. Like it's justthat what was on your screen before was a different storyline and a universe thathas billions of storylines with with characters like a Diarra and light gray and andand Hugh and Stam. It's all over the place, just not the oneson your screen at the moment. Yeah, exactly that. That's that's so beautifullyput. Now, I know that you've done short films, but thiswas kind of your first big kind of on screen role and especially the dedmanceof such a high paid show and then the demands of all the tech that'sinvolved and then the super tight uniforms. You can't, you know, eata craft services. It's like, give me a break. But what wouldyou say on the learning the craft and learning the business? What do youthink you learn the most from your first season on discovery? Um, Ohgosh, I I think I've learned and I'm still learning and it's made mewant to learn more. The like just like completely a technically beautiful thing thatis all like our entire crew and how how a huge crew on a bigshow 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'smade 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 thosemassives down stages where there's like two hundred of us at everyone is incredible attheir job, to watch those people and like see how they do what theydo. I think it's so beautiful. This show, especially, you know, we have these new actors to the industry, but then we have theseveterans that have been in the industry for so long and it's such a beautifulmishmash of of chemistry. There's a very unique chemistry about this franchise of deservestar Trek. Now, speaking for the non binary community, it kind ofcame 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? Whatwhat has that community taught you? Or what have you learned? I've learnedthat then I have a lot more of the space and freedom to do whatI 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 thepeople that I've had conversations with and in terms of the the nonbinary and transibinaryfan base is just there's just like a huge outpouring of love and support forfor every part of ourselves. I think I felt I put this huge pressureon myself, you know, before you and I were even announced, tobe 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 belike the best spokesperson possible. I need to like really be here for formy community in every way, and I put this huge weight on my shouldersthat I don't think I was ready for or that anyone is just suddenly readyfor. But the people that I've spoken to and had connected, like talkto and made connections with have just shown nothing but unconditional love and support ina way that has made me kind of like relax and calm down and feelmore settled. You know, I have found that from having the opportunity tointerview 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 thenon binary communities that it's so fluid, fluid and it's ever evolving. Ithink the gay community has gotten kind of rigid and how we think and howwe accept other people, even the way that we deal with in our owndifferent 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 toevolve and there is no label that we have to adhere to that sticks withus. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we learn about other peopleand the more we can change. There's no finality in our journey andthat's what I love also about a deer's journey. On the show. Youhit the season and there's so many beautiful moments and journeys that Adhira has hasgone through and has taken, and I think it's really a testament to thecommunity 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, learningmore about yourself and people around you. You have answered many of the samemedia 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 andthat has to be exhausting. But sometimes the media sticks to the same kindof hot, hot topic questions or the same type of themes. In youropinion, what are questions or themes at the media should start asking you asan actor that we're kind of not asking or is there something that we're notcovering? Oh that's a really good question. Um, I think in terms oflike progress and moving forward in making sure that, you know, we'restarting to have shows that you don't just have one like token queer character onthem and then move on. I think it would be really nice and beneficialin terms of like everyone being able to see these interviews, including like castingdirectors, producers, directors writers, to ask forward thinking questions about like whereour industry can go, how we can better the industry in terms of Lgbtqplus characters, like those kinds of questions. In that environment, I think wouldbe genuinely beneficial to everyone, because I feel like there's still a lotof mostly sis heat writers, whites, as has right, head writers andpeople making these shows, and they're only they're only going off of like that'swhy 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 ifwe were asked these questions and interviews like about how to better things move thingsforward, that could actually be used for people like as a resource. Ilove that and I think we, as the media should inspire other media peopleto start asking these questions as well. I'm curious. You know, mygeneration, we just went through this awful political administration, the last voting electiondebacle. People were really split in my generation, and I'm not talking aboutthe LGBTQ community, I'm talking about the Conservatives and the Liberals. We weretearing ourselves apart, we were tearing ourselves apart on social media, in inperson, and I'm wondering your generation just seems to be a little bit morepositive, a little bit more accepting. Is there this kind of divide thatI've seen from my own peer group? Do you feel that your generation isdivided like that as well? Is it less so? What's your take onthat? It feels there are definitely divisions.

It feels like they're not so likejust 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 thatour world is in, especially, like, you know, the world that Genz comes into is a world that you know is every day. You'dsee that, you know, Oh, like our our world in the waythat it is, might end soon, like in terms of global warming andand the constant natural disasters that were having due to that. Like it's you'recoming 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 goodpoint. There's this genuine feeling that I keep seeing throughout all of Gen Zand some millennials even if like, okay, well, if, if this isit, if this is the world that I was brought into, I'mgoing to say whatever I want. I'm going to say what needs to besaid when I do what needs to be done. You know, whether it'slike eight years old, just thirteen years old, seventeen years old, whateverthe age, just people who are pouring their hearts out and speaking their mindbecause they kind of came into a horrible situation. Yeah, I want toknow. You know, we see the future of our community in the StarTrek Future and we see that we are part of the story lines where partof the family were welcome at the table. But in your opinion, what arethe biggest obstacles you think the non binary community has to overcome in thisvery 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 thereand and because of, honestly, because of social media and people being ableto share their stories. I think that that's been possible. I think oneof the biggest things that we run into problems with is legislation surrounding and peopletrying to take control over medically transitioning at a young age is our massive problemthroughout most of America and it's really terrifying because that being trans at a youngage like it. These are crucial things. These are absolutely crucial things. Andand 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 thenhaving the world or the government be like Nope, fuck you, you can'tdo that, having parents that will say no, it's like the most crucialtime. 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 likecan't legislate abortion like it's you can you. These are not decisions for a governmentto make. These are decisions for the singular human being to make abouttheir body in their lives. Yeah, and hopefully that that won't be wewon't be in the same place and then...

...in the next few years. Butyes, that is the biggest hurdle, I think. Have you ever thoughtabout getting into politics? No, I don't. I think it yes andno, because it I already feel involved almost of the time. Well,as an activist, for sure. You know, I think we even sawfrom 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 youknow, we kind of need youth involved in politics. But it's becomeso toxic. I just I just wanted to know if you would ever thoughtof dabbling in an official capacity. I don't. I don't know if itI mean if the occasion or opportunity came up where it would be like itwould be a good fit and absolutely and if it was something that I reallylike. There is a lot that really needs to be changed. I reallycare about with my whole heart and soul. So yeah, if they're if therewas an opportunity to, then I absolutely would. I do already feelvery 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 andI would be worried that it would just like eat away at me from theinside. But that being said, like people have to do it, westill have to do it to change that so that in the future it's notit's not. Getting into politics is not a thing that we eat you outfrom 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 inthe capacity that you are and the energy that you give. I wasraised on the og series, Captain Kirk, I'm you know, that's my wholefamily. So, with discovery came around. Like some of the olderfans, you know, some some of us are afraid of change because it'sother 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 Trek Universe,everything that you've done for me as a member of the Lgbtq community and theentertainment industry as a whole. I have to thank you so much for thetime that you involve yourself with your fans, you know, with glad, withthe community. I know it's more than a fulltime job, and soI 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. Iwant this. Oh, I love you, blue. Okay, tell everybody whereyou want them to find you and follow you. Um, I'm I'mjust blue delb on everything, instagram and twitter. That's it. Yeah,so easy. Now. I'm sure you can't, but are are there anyhints or themes that you can talk about for season, for anything we shouldexpect? Who Know? Trouble? So I can't give anything away, butthey're there. Is like wonderful progression in terms of both a deer and graystory 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 muchfor chatting with me and enjoy the rest of your La Day before yourun back to London. Thank you so...

...nice. Thank you so much.I will chat with you soon. Okay, that has been my chat with bluedel Bar. You can read my indepth article with them in the latestissue of Metro source, available on news stands around the nation or at Metrosourcecom. Season four discovery will be hitting it very soon and I know thecast. I know this from my personal conversations with them. They have workedso hard on this season under some really challenging circumstances during covid and stopping andstarting, also being isolated away from their family and friends for so many monthsto 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 Alexanderis on air and until next time, stay true, do you, andlive 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 Sportsmagazine on newstands or online at Metro sportscom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram atmetal source and on twitter at Metro Spurt mad until next time, thankfast.

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