Star Trek Discovery's Wilson Cruz

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Actor & activist Wilson Cruz started acting as a youngin’ and toured the US as part of the Young Americans. He has made television history as the first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character in a leading role in a major TV series in, of course, My So Called Life...AND as part of the first featured gay couple in the Star Trek franchise in Star Trek Discovery as Dr. Hugh Culbert with co-star Anthony Rapp. 

Wilson appeared in the Broadway production of RENT and his list of TV/film credits goes on and on with roles in Oliver Stone’s Nixon, Johns, He’s Just Not That Into You (story of my life), Party of Five, 13 Reasons Why and my personal favorite, Party Monster. Compelling guest spots include roles in ER, Ally McBeal, The West Wing, Noah's Arc, Pushing Daisies, Shameless, and Grey's Anatomy. He has been a tireless activist for LGBTQ equality especially for at-risk youth, Wilson himself being displaced by his family for coming out. We featured Wilson on the cover of Metrsource’s October/November issue.

We chatted with Wilson on his day off from filming Season 4 of Discovery and had a very intimate chat about LGBTQ representation in the media, love and dating, ageism in entertainment, how awesome Michelle Yoeh is, Wilson's first steps on the Star Trek set, how tight his uniform is, and overcoming loneliness during COVID. We also found out what his worst date was - hint, it was at a drive-thru.  

Wilson is donating his proceeds from Cameo (personalized video shoutouts) until the end of the year to GLSEN, the non-profit working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and to prompt LGBT cultural inclusion and awareness in K-12 schools. 

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. Hello, hello, hello, this is metro source minis. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez, lead writer from Metro Source Magazine and Sancy podcaster. During covid LGBT Q prep representation and actors coming out as Lgbtq have been out of this world. Wink, wink. We are talking to actor and activist Wilson crews, who started acting as a young and and toured the US a part of the young Americans and he has made television history as a first openly gay actor to play an openly gay character in a leading role in a major TV series, of course, in my so called life, and made history again as part of the first featured gay couple in the Star Trek Franchise, Star Trek Discovery, with Co Star Anthony Rap he has appeared in Broadway production of rent and his list of TV film credits goes on and on with roles and Oliver Stones, Nixon John's. He's just not that into the story of my life, party of five, thirteen reasons why and my personal favorite party monster, along with compelling guest spots, including roles in ear ally mcbeil, the west wing, Noah's are pushing daisy shameless in gray's anatomy and he has been a tireless activist for the Lgbtq community, especially for at risk youth, himself having been displaced by his family for coming out. We featured Wilson and talked about the history on the cover of Metro sources October November issue. Please welcome Mr Wilson Crus WC. My God that introduction. I'm like, do we have any time left for the interview? Well, I mean this is this is such a long spanning career with so many pinpoints in in our in our television and LGBT history, and you are sharing your time with us. You're actually filming season for of Discovery. So your Inner Hotel Room in Canada. So thank you for beaming in. Thank you. Am I supposed to be able to see you? Not yet, because this is just you are fraid, because you're the star what's to see me? Yet this is not my this is my actual Toronto home, you know. So it's not my hotel. So you're Oh, come to my Mike Toronto abook. Oh my God, that is like self fancy. That's like model home quality. That's why I thought it was o Houttel Room, because if it was my house it would be a little please don't, don't get it twisted. This isn't my furniture, it's someone it's A. It's a it's a furnished department. That I yeah, okay, it's it's because you fancy. Now. Is it me, or is your starfleet uniform getting tighter and tighter every season? I have to say I didn't realize...

...actually how tight it was for season three until it's start has streaming. I was like there was a mom whar. I came up on the bridge and I was like, Oh, pretty sure I know his religion. Yeah, that's like Dr here is clearly not Jewish. Who Needs Grace wet pants when we have White Star Fleet uniforms? I was like, Whoa, that's coming at you warp speed a little. Well, this is a family show. Well, we love it. We have seen this huge explosion of lgbtq characters on screen. Hallmark came out with their first gay couple featured in a holiday film, and now there's like one. Thus five hundred Gay Romance Christmas films. Ye Star Trek and star trek featured you and Anthony as the first gay couple in space, and now discovery is feature trans non binary characters. Major brands this holiday season are featuring a lot of gay couples in their commercials. Is this too much, too fast? Is it sincere's it over exposure? Do you think it's just the hot topic Gimmick of this year? I don't think it's a hot topic gimmick. I do think that, you know, when people experience in existential crisis, which our culture has, people make decisions about their lives and how they lead them, and I think that people are looking at is, at their lives during this time and going hey, wait a minute, I actually am grateful for this life and perhaps I should show up in show up in it more authentically, and I think we're seeing people do that. Well. I definitely think that's right, and covid is making us kind of self reflective. We're spending more time with ourselves without outside noise, and so we don't have to well, I mean you're filming, but you know, the rest of us don't have to wear certain outfits if we don't want to, because we're not out doing our thing. You know, we don't have to shave or you know, we're kind of rediscovering what we want to do for ourselves without any outside pressure. I've had two friends come out as trans in the last two weeks and they said it's because of Covid yes, I think there's you know, when we allow ourselves to get quiet and listen to our vote, to our inner voice, without the noise from the outside world. And there has been so much of it and I think because there's been so much of it, we have been more willing to turn it off. Yeah, when it gets quiet, you're left with you and you alone and your truth. And when you figure that out, you want to yell at from the rooftops. Well, you know, listening to myself, I wish my voice was not so annoying girl. So I want I want to hear your story this every time you interview me. I am not going to allow you to make to to to beat yourself up. I'm not...

...going to do it. You're fantastic. I love you. Oh, thank you. You know, I could call in sick for me at school as my mom, and nobody even was the wiser. I listen. I talked to the bank today and I was Ma'am all the way through and I was like yeah, yeah, they're saying we're seeing a lot of charges from Victoria's secret. Yeah, don't judgment. No, God, no, Um. Now I tell me the story about getting cast on Star Trek because you thought you were a part of it and then not, but then you were. Tell me because I love the story. Oh, I mean so, so. Yeah, so I wanted to be on Star Trek Discovery, like I knew that a revamped star trek for this new age, and so I reached out to Brian Fuller, who I had worked within the past, who is developing the new version, and I was like, Hey, if you know, I'd like to do this, if you think it's a good idea. I don't need like make it happen. He was like sure, sure. So anyway, they they six months past. I heard they were looking for this this gay, you know, officer on the ship, and that's all I knew. And the next thing I heard it was anthony rap and I was like, amazing, because I love Anthony. Honestly, right after I wanted to kill myself. My next thought was, at least it's Anthony Rapp. Yeah, and so I called Anthony and realized he had never met Aaron and Gretchen who had hired him, and so I kind of connected them just so they can say hi and all that, and then like and so I let it go. You know, it is like another one of those heartbreak stories that actors have about the part that they you know, wanted and you know didn't get. And three months later I get a phone call from my manager like you're going to be on star trek discovery. They're not going to have one gay. They're going to the gazer coming to star trek discovery in a pair. But then as is as as his, you know, a theme in my career. It got snatched back because the network, CBS, was like, Um, we're not sure, we don't we don't think he's formidable enough. Clearly they had met me. Wow, they didn't think I vooted formidability. Oh my God, they wanted to see me on camera. And so aarony Gretchen just brought me into the office and put me on camera and I read a scene with Aaron. They sent the tape over and then, you know, I got the offer. So it was just, you know, they wanted to make sure. Well, and thank God, you know I have to tell you, you don't, as you know, then I got the job and you know, nine episode, ten episodes later, well, as we know, it's Star Trek. No one's really gone. And you know, as we've saying, you've come back with a vengeance, with an expanded role, and we get to see more of your relations ship, which I really love, because we had that sci fi drama going on...

...between you and stamts, but now we get to see you living the life of a couple, going to bed at night in the same bed and kind of sharing relationship struggles. You know, how do you work with somebody that you're in a relationship? And we're getting to that part of the relationship, which I enjoy so much. We're seeing stammets and Dr Hugh as a family in space and it's so important, especially as we had new characters. Now this season we're in season three of discovery. The crew is displaced almost nine hundred years are over, nine hundred years into the future. Yeah, yeah, leaving everything that they have known behind. It is such weird timing because we're all kind of in this weird displacement right now with covid and we know depression is running rampant in the nation and especially within our LGBTQ community. What advice do you have for somebody from our community that's feeling alone, that's kind of feeling isolated, because you've had some lonely points in your in your life behind behind the scenes as well? I you know, if you want me to be, well, I'm going to be who I am. Y'All. Sorry. Yes, I have had a very hard time with isolation and I am I am up here in Toronto and working, but the way that the schedule has worked out, I spend a lot of time alone here in this apartment and I struggled with it a lot. And the only thing that, because you know, I'm a tactile person, I am a I am a social creature. Yes, I I grow from it, I need it, it's it's fuel for me, people and and I love my alone time as much as anybody else. To refuel for that, but this has been a lot. And so for me it's been about reaching out, making myself vulnerable enough to say I need to talk to somebody. I you know, will you get on facetime with me? Will you go for a walk with me, or just saying, you know, just picking up the phone and saying I'm having a rough time today. So there's that. And then, for me it's been about staying physically active in some way, and so I've created a little bit of a routine because all the gym's here are closed and I'm as much as I am a social creature, I am also a physical one. I need that. I it's the it's the gift I try to give myself every day before I give to any so that I can give to anybody else. And so, you know, making a commitment to that and creating a schedule. You know that that I can a structure that I can exist...

...within. That doesn't that doesn't that that's challenging, but doesn't feel overwhelming, because I have a lot else, a lot of other things going on, you know. Yeah, we have to senterate races in Georgia. There's a whole series, their whole season of star trek discovery. You know there's there. You know I'm on the Board of G listen. So you know, being of service right now also keeps me less in my own head, you know what I mean. Like so I'm not picking myself apart. I'm concentrating on someone else's needs and how I can be of service to them, which is sometimes it's it's kind of a thin line. You know, we've talked to a lot of activists this last season over through the election, through pride season, a lot of actors have given so much of their time towards activism and a lot of the headlines are based on that. And you know the interviews are going to focus on what what's happening with lgbt community, which sometimes can even be more isolating, because we're focusing on that and we're talking about the good that the community is doing and, like you said, it's it's it's we're not talking about what you are going through or you as a person. It's I have to say these things for the community and I'm sticking up for the community and I'm donating my time and I have to say all the right politically correct things, especially right now, which sometimes can be exhausting. I call it activist fatigue, and then also that attention is not put on who you are as a person, like, if you want to crack a hilly joke or, you know, be in a bad mood or talk about you know, somebody's bulged, it's like it doesn't fit like this. You know, it's not dealing with your personality. Yes, but I will say this that in these moments of, you know, isolation, of insecurity, of the unknown, this this this era in which, you know, politically and culturally, we are adrift, that in these moments, there's nothing more revolutionary than joy, then the willingness to act out and appreciate and create joy for yourself and the people around you that in you do that, in spite of what we're experiencing, that the act of joy, of being joyful, is the most hopeful thing that we can do. And when we do that, we say where, we are expressing the fact that we believe that we're...

...going to be okay eventually and that this moment, like every moment, good or bad, is a temporary one and we have to endure it and work through it and be responsible to each other through it, but also hang onto the hope that one day we will see our way out and we'll have each other to hold onto again. I I, I love that message and it's so great going into the holidays with a message like that and heading into the new year, because it doesn't look like we're going to be heading into the new year much changed. I'm going to come Covid wise heart hold the holidays by myself, because we're on a break that starts and I will be here that point city of plant that I usually kill. At some point. I'll be refreshing it, you know, and New Year's and my birthday. So all of you out there who are who are feeling the holiday blues and afraid of doing it alone, please know that you're not. You're doing it with me. I love that, you know, and he sang also slipping his DM's on New Year's e really is I want to talk about before. I've been single for ten years and that's so and, let's be real, I haven't seen a person naked in at least a year. I find that so hard to believe. But we know that. You're good boy. You're a good boy, you're a responsible boy. I'm going to talk about that. You gave up alcohol by working on Star Trek discovery and thirteen reasons. Why? What? What brought you to the point of that decision? And we know lgbt social life is full of alcohol. How do you handle your sober journey as part of the community? So, you know, for me it's not so much that I'm sober, it's that I have realized that alcohol is not the drug for me. And you know, I think we think many people need something to alleviate the stresses of the day. Yes, some people, you know, have a have a dependency on alcohol. That that wasn't my issue. My issue was that I had a very problematic chemical reaction to it. And and so you know, once I owned that and my friends were honest with me, they were like, you know, you are not your best self. Yeah, I was like, okay, well, that's something to consider and I never loved it that much anyway. So now I I smoke my vape when I need a minute and or I'll have a gummy and everybody's happier. I also want to talk about ages and in entertainment.

What I love about Star Trek discoveries that we see such a wide variety of characters and actors. We see strong female characters like Michelle Yeo's Georgio. Jane Brooks Has Vice Admiral Katrina and taking Mataro, of course, alongside the young unds like Michael Burnham and Tillie even Saru, you know, played by Doug Jones, who just celebrated his sixty five birthday. Age is not even talked about. These are just strong characters all working together and I love that there's not this kind of focus of what we have the older characters and the younger characters, especially for the female characters, because you know, after a certain points female characters kind of become the older figure. Yet Sean Connery was playing a love interest to he was like eighty two. Did you ever feel the pressure because you came into your career success so young and you know you've come to the set of Star Trek discovery with decades of work and experience behind you, but did you ever feel the pressure from the industry to kind of stay young, stay that that young figure in in my socalled life? No, I didn't feel that pressure. I you know, I went through a period where, for whatever reason you like, in my late s early s, where nobody knew what we're to put me like I was too I was too old for this and way too young for that. So it was this no man's land for me, and I was okay with it. I mean I was broke, but what I did, what I was what I was excited about. The was that, you know, you know this as we're part of the same generation. We we didn't get to see gay men age, yes, and I always felt a void of that and I I looked to and I have mentors like Daryl Cummings, who's the cheapest staff at the center in La who's, like I loved are older brother to me, and but he know, he was one of the few that I could look to you to see how how do we, how do gay men age gracefully, because there was a whole generation of us who would have been that model for me who were taken from us because of AIDS. And so when I started to noticeably age, you know, I I have been approached about, like, you know, doing something about the the crows feed around my my eyes and you know I have a very expressive forehead and and and you know it has...

...creases and all of that. And so you know, a friend who's like a cosmologist or whatever who does the the we call that the Botox Botox, and I yes, and I made a conscious decision at it when we were talking about it, to say, you know, no, I'm going to do this, I'm gonna see what happens, because this is my like, this is what I this is my whole job, right, and I use this to express everything and and I don't want to mess with that. I think that my I think I want to age as gracefully as possible and to show that, like a Lenny Kravitz, you know, there's no one way to aid up. Yeah, I'm going to do everything I can to be your Lenny Kravitz. Well, I love it and hey, I mean you look amazing, so wolf. You know, I think it's important for us to allow ourselves to age gracefully and to end, those of us who are who have the privilege now to to be able to age, to model that for this new generation, that there's a certain way that you know, you have choices, you don't have to always look twenty five. We're not all. You know, I was a twin, believe it or not, back in the day. I know I had your poster on my wall hundred downs, you know, and we can allow ourselves to evolve and change and, you know, give yourself that that freedom. You know, I love that. I think it's so important, especially when we were talking with covid you know, there's a kind of smoke and mirrors with social media and you can't keep putting all of these, you know, well posed pics have traveling and all that, because we're all stuck at home, and so filters look kind of ridiculous now, and so I think it's really important to have honest representation of what it's like to age gracefully. And you're one of the healthiest friends and actors I know, and so that's such a great way to express that. It's yeah, you can age, but you can get healthier and, yes, look amazing and I have to, you know, be honest, like I'm aging. My Body's changing, this experience of not having access to a gym, you know, every it's changing and I have to I'm I'll be forty seven in less than a month and I damn girl, you look good. Point is that? Thank you, but my point is is that I'm not always going to look like this, right and I and I think being gentle with ourselves dirt while we age. You know, yes, I feel good about how I how it's happening, but I have to be okay with the with the fact that things are going to change and and and be grateful for what I had, that youthful you know, torso, but that, you know, part of life is becoming and aging and changing and letting that happen. How is that change kind of your attraction and what you're looking...

...for in dating? I know over the last like three years, who I'm attracted to is so different because there's all these different factors now that I'm older. Has that change for you, or are you still looking for that ensign on? You know, no, I would that I've never been. I mean, even when I was a twink, I wasn't dating people in their twenties. I just was. That was never my thing. Well, you kind of had a mature faster too. I did, and you know, I might my partners, I don't, which I don't really speak about publicly. A lot have been at least slightly older than me. That true, except for one. Spill the tea girl, I see your teapot, but you know, yeah, I mean these days, these days I'm not we're going to be friends, unless you're thirty five or over like that. That's just where that's just where I'm at. I don't need you to call me Daddy. I really don't. I hate what you'll say it daddy or poppy. Of I just can't. I can't. I'm not so, oh so Wilson. I just have to say as as a Trecky, you know, I was a chucky from the womb because being part of the Star Trek family was such an out for me. My family was just my mom and me. I was Latino in a all white school. I was Chubby, talking or dealing with my sexuality, and Star Trek taught me that you can find a family in any group of people and that, no matter what you look like or what species you are, so to speak, you have a place in this universe. And that's what Star Trek taught me. And knowing you and the legacy that you started with being an out actor and taking that that leap of faith in your community, when I saw you take the screen and Star Trek Discovery, which was so anticipated, I couldn't help it burst into tears for so many different reasons, as a treky, as a Latino as as a gay man. With all of that, I want to know what it was like setting foot in costume ready to film on the sound stage. What was that moment like for you as an actor as well as you had, did have, an appreciation for the Star Trek Universe? You know, it was overwhelming. It was. It was a big day, like a here's what I know that I was grateful for. I was grateful to have anthony wrap by my side because he enjoyed watching my my my being overwhelmed. You know, and I've talked about this publicly, but what's overwhelming for me and what's really Cathartic and altering for me about playing this role is I get...

...to imagine what our lives are going to be when we don't have to deal with homophobia and racism, that I get to imagine and create a Puerto Rican gay man who was allowed to live up to his ultimate potential, not held back by anything or anyone who thought less of him based on his sexuality or his race. That he all he had to to do with just be as perfect and genius as he was made. And so for me, it was in it was incredibly free because and end up in a full circle moment. Can I just I've never actually made this connection, but you know, when I played when I did, when I played ricky of my so called life, I was imagining, reimagining my past, reliving it, and in Star Trek discovery I get to imagine and create a future, that that I imagine for a generation of people that I'll never know and meat, but that I get to imagine and step in their shoes for a minute, and both of those things are incredibly healing. Yeah, on a personal I just got the chills. If I was ever cast in anything star Trek, I would steal every uniform, every prop, because I have them anyway. I've just paid out the nose for them. Okay, to tell you good luck finding a prop now, because everything in the future. Yeah, it's you know, we're all working with hollows now and you know this stuff. Yeah, my last scene, and in season two, was me saving my husband's life with every you know, medical star trek tool ever invented. I'm not kidding, like I had to choreograph it, and it's going into season three and four where I'm like, I all I have to I don't even have pockets for my hands. It's crazy. Well, girl, those pants are so tight they could make couldn't add pockets. Okay, Hey, is it truly you play the saxophone? Yeah, it was. It was the first instrument I played. Oh, did you bring a saxophone to Canada? I did not. I actually had to option off my last saxophone. Oh, well, paying them one year in nineteen ninety nine or something. Well, okay, maybe in the future you can get get a little saxy. That so stupid.

Okay, are you ready to play a little rapid fire? Yes, okay. What would the name of your own starship be? The USS? What? BOOTY QUA? Oh Oh, that's good, that is good. Hey, you should just text one of the writers and be like, Hey, this is what's happening. WHAT IS THE STRANGEST DM? You received bill. That's a I'm always shocks that people just send it picks. I'm always like, like, with no context. I mean it's small talk. I mean, I don't know, I don't know how I'm supposed to respond. Let's very clean, sir. Have you ever responded? Have you ever been like wow, I need oh, oh, okay, I don't know. We know you're okay now. We know you're very into fitness. You can't really go crazy in between seasons. But what is your bench food on cheap day? Oh, you know, I have a cheap day at least once a week. You know, my my Kryptonite is Mac and cheese. Oh, I did not know that. Yeah, I can't. I can't be in a restaurant, I can't know that it's being served. I can't, and I'm not sharing it with you either. By what would your American idol auditions home be one moment in time? Okay, yeah, well, that's so many meanings. Now, are you guys just singing rent songs, you know, on set all the time? No, it's COVID. We don't sing. Oh, that's right. HMM HMM. Yeah, it's like working at a hospital now. Everybody's working, you know, but it works fine for me. Worst date you've ever had, the way worst date you ever had, worst date I ever had. I mean, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. Well, there was sky high school. He was older, I know. I was like, oh, he's an older man. He was I think he was twenty, and he came and picked me up and we have went for like a ride, he and we had it was it was. You know what I'm going to say. I'm not going to tell a start. Oh No, you can't do that. You literally can't do that. Now, did he take you to chucky cheese or what? No, no, he took me to like, I'm not kidding, like like a drive through, and then it like I wanted to like make...

...out in the car and I was like, I'm making out with you in this car. First of all, we're gonna get killed. Same Gonny, no, California, I don't know. Somebody took me to the drive through and got me McDonald's fries. I might do more than just kiss. You know. What would you do for her? I like that was the highlight. God, I've had a lot of bad dates, so I mean, I'm sure, if I thought long and hard enough, you know, because like you know, like like musical numbers from shows, that I'm no longer in bad dates. I think my brain just like the hard drives, like we don't need any of that. We need room for other stuff, Wilson. and where do you want everybody to find you and follow you? Come here to my apartment, outside, right just at your window, with plates of Mac and cheese? Yes, MEB in central park. I'm on twitter and INSTAGRAM AT W cruise seventy three, and I'm on Facebook, you know, like everybody's. I don't. I'm not doing tick Tock. I think I'm too old. I just can't. I tried and I just literally I'm like that. I'm like back, I don't need all that guns. Yeah, I don't. You know, I'm thrilled. I'm not looking down on it. I'm just saying I don't need another thing. I don't yet too much. There's too much to do. Well said, you know. You know that I could literally talk to you for hours and hours and hours. Thank you so much for joining us and to our our audience. Season Three of discovery is now streaming on CB us all access and you can read my in depth interview with Wilson crews and our last issue of Metro source. Get it on newstands or going to Metro sortscom. And that's our episode. I'm your host. Yeah, I just I just want to do say, you know, thank you to you for all of the ways that you have supported and shown up for me, and what you wrote at the end of that article and Metro Source I will hold dear to my heart. For the rest of my life, because it is literally the reason why I do what I do, so it means everything to me. Well, I appreciate you, I appreciate what you do for the community and I appreciate our friendship. When covid is over, we're going to go shopping for old men together. Yeah, all right, that has been another episode of mental source minis. On that note, stay healthy, stay sexy and do you brew rush? That has been another metal 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 course, mad until next time, they fast.

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