ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Star Trek fans went crazy when we found out that Captain Jean Luc Picard from Star Trek the Next Generation would be returning to screens. We even went crazier when we found out that actor and activist Jonathan Del Arco’s would be returning, 27 years after his first appearance as Hugh, an iconic fan favorite from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Television audiences most recently saw him as Dr. Fernando Morales, a role that spanned ten years over the course of two series The Closer and Major Crimes on TNT. Other memorable appearances on film and television include Nip/Tuck, The Sopranos, 24, Crossing Jordan, Huff, Star Trek: Voyager, Mommies, The Wonder Years, Blossom, Boy Meets World, Miami Vice, NCIS, and The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams.
Foregoing college at 18 he joined the company of the Broadway hit Torch Song Trilogy and toured the country along with Golden Girls' Estelle Getty. Many other Broadway and off Broadway plays followed before Del Arco settled in Los Angeles to pursue work on television and film.
As a passionate activist on behalf of LGBT rights, immigrant's rights, anti-bullying efforts, and the environment, he served as a campaign surrogate for President Barack Obama and Sec. Hillary Clinton and is a sought after public speaker. He has shared his coming out story and childhood as an immigrant and survivor of bullying and discrimination at the first pride event at FBI Headquarters, the 2012 Democratic Convention, The Human Rights Campaign, and throughout corporate America.
We chatted with Jonathan about his experience growing up in the US as an immigrant from Uruguay, his friendship with Estelle Getty, missing a stage cue, life during the AIDS epidemic, the LGBTQ community in Star Trek, his crush on Captain Kirk, and why it's imperative for the LGBTQ community to become politically involved.
Episode · 1 year ago
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Episode · 1 year ago
Star Trek Picard's Jonathan Del Arco
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
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 sports minis. My name is Alexander Rodriguez and I am a trekkoholic. I love all things star Trek. I have the uniforms, I have the models, the books, the comics, the fan fiction, everything. And Star Trek fans went crazy when we found out that COP Captain John Look Picard from Star Trek the next generation would be returning to screens. That's kept secret that we also had our pants for, for different reasons, when we found out that the actor and activist Jonathan Tell Arca would be returning, twenty seven years after his very first appearance as Hugh, the iconic fan favorite from Star Trek the next generation. And of course, we love Jonathan from his most recent appearances, Dr Fernando Morales, a role that spanned over ten years, over the course of two series, the closer and major crimes on TNT and of course we love him from Niptock, the Sopranos, twenty four, crossing Jordan, huffs Star Trek Voyager, the wonder year's blossom, remember blossom boy, meets world, Miami, vice, ncias and the crazy ones with Robin Williams. For Going College at Eighteen, he joined the company of the Broadway hit torts song trilogy and toward the country, along with our girl golden girls, astell getty, and of course he had many other Broadway and operadway plays that followed. And then, thank God, he came to Los Angeles. We got him here as a passionate activist on behalf of lgbt rights, immigrants rights, anti bullying efforts in the environment. He served as campaign surrogate for President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton and is a sought after public speaker. He has shared his coming out story and his childhood as an immigrant and a survivor of bullying for the first pride event at FBI headquarters. He spoken at the two thousand and twelve Democratic convention, the Human Rights Campaign and throughout Corporate America, and of course he worked for Biden. We had a lot of the Star Trek personalities come together and we won. What about? So set your faces to studying and please welcome Jonathan Tell Arco. Well, that introduction one I can little up to that many years I've been waiting to introduce you. I'm like, that's my boy, I want it. Thank you still much. So it was a very sweet intro. Of course, you know I'm huge tricky, like I said, and your personality on the show and then having you come back it just meant so many things to me as as a Latino, as a gay man, as a trek he but I want to talk about you know, we've had so much discussion and controversy over immigration in the US and I want to know about your experience growing up in the US as an immigrant from Uruguay. What aspects about being an immigrant form who you are today, and what is your take on present day immigration? We're just going to start real slow. Yeah, I would say that coming to America at age ten, having already formed my personality at that age, you know, you your former personality by age five, but by ten you really cementing who you are, and so much of that revolves around your environment. Right like the place you grew up and growing up in Otaguay was so incredibly different to the US and I had a lot of dreams in my eyes, like I thought it was going to be like the Jetson's, remember that show? Oh my God, yes, Rot, yea, the robot. That the woman who did Rosei, the robot. She was where my friend. Yeah, she was also the original Wilma Flintstone to FII. But so I was completely devastated to come to the states and find US living in a run down a partner in building and a suburb of New York, and it was a great adjustment to the fantasy of what coming to America...
...would have been like. It was also like a cornerstone of me realizing that being different was going to be my life. You know, I wasn't identifying as gay at that age, but I knew I was different anyw I like boys and being an immigrant was just made me even more of an outsider. So I had this sort of the sort of like I like to describe it as like the little natch girl perspective past the window and she's selling matches and not quite being in the room, like not quite being a part of the clubs, in a part of the groups of kids that would be friends, because I was so I was such the other you know, not speaking the language, being a feminate at the time. You know, there was just a lot of obstacles and it turned out to be really formative in my creative process and in creating being an actor, and that's always my key. How I opened the door to a lot of characters is is through my outsider perspective. It's kind of how I view life in general and it's it's been a real gift. And so over the years I have you know, I was fortunate that my dad had privilege when he came here. He came here legally, and for a long time I kind of kind of hung my hat on that and saying, like, there's a difference between coming here with papers versus not. And then, as I matured as a person, I realized how privileged I had actually been in terms of the immigration story writ large, and how much more courage really, how much more of a desire for the American dream it takes to come here with nothing, to swim across the Rio grand to walk through the desert to find an American dream. You know, that is that's way more courageous than how my family came here, and that is the foundation, I think, of what this democracy and what this country is about. Is that idea that we are a place that is a beacon of hope, ideally a place where people that have been left behind can come and work hard. Mean I look at how hard immigrants work in this country. You know, I know I live in California and I know that so many of the harder jobs, that are the least paying jobs, are happily, happily done by immigrants. And so I have, you know, I become, I've become much more of an activist for immigration and and really for, you know, not just opening the doors and in the courts for people to tell us why they want to live here, but also treating people with dignity at the border. I think that that is a key piece that really went the way of Hell in this past administration to such an extent. So I'm very relieved that I got to be a surrogate for Biden Harris and I am overjoyed that they that they won the election. Does a long one wants answer of sorry, no, no, that's you know, that's the right. My family also immigrated from Mexico or from Mexico and they came over legally, and it was always taught to us, you know, always say that we came here legally, because there's such a stereotype and such a stigma against people that do not. But you're right, coming here with literally nothing on their person, leaving family members behind or losing family members on the way that it's...
...in itself has is almost an unsurmountable challenge, that it does take some courage and then to learn the language and become involved in society. You know, the more stories, I think, we hear from immigrants of all different races, you know, the more we really can realize that we are all in this together and hopefully the next four years we can rebuild relationships and build some bridges. Not African American, if you're not black and if you're not native American, you have your family was an immigrant. Sorry, right, yeah, no other way. Basically every white person in American who is an immigrants from some right putting and most recently including our first lady lady. Anyway, I want to talk about you know, time for college came and you're like, Screw College, let's you know, let's be an actor. I know with that. You know you would take yourself to New York and you would take the classes and audition being cast in such an iconic show. And you know the word iconic is thrown around so many times, but port song trilogy is truly an iconic piece of theater and part of the LGBT history. Being so young in the business and taking out such a big show and then taking it on the road. You know, I traveled shows on the road and I made my mistakes because you're young and you're in different cities, experience in different people. What early actor mistakes did you make, whether it's like on stage or be or behind the scenes? I have a real whopper. So yeah, think about it. I was in one of the productions, mean one of the casts of the original trilogy. So I was just watching boys in the band and Yep, you know, some of these things we went to hadn't had a gay play performed since boys in the band and if you know, boys in the band's very dark take. I'm being gay, and Torch Song was really positive take. I've actually I think Harvey was prophetic in the creation of the gay family because he adopts a teenage son, which is my care archer, and I got to work with a stell getty, who you know by all all judging, you could say is a gay icon and a few bud and we used to walk to the theater together. So I got introduced to gay culture in a very deep way at a very young age. My biggest mistake was there is a moment in the end of act, the Third Act, which is the one I'm in, toward the end, when the two carecters, two male characters, are professing love for each other and I'm supposed to interrupt a kiss. And people back then, like you, didn't have gay kisses on stage. Even then, even in the gay play, it was unusual. And I was chitty chatting up a third floor with its all, I think, up the third flight of a big old theater in Chicago, and I heard my q just like Weird Echo, and I was like, Oh shit, there's the guys that already kissed. They moved on creating other dialog I got a lot of fit for that. It's like, oh, that's how they moved to third base. I know. I was like what's going on on here, boys, but doing that show, it kind of helped you come out right. Yeah, my coming out process was really different from every everyone's got a different process. I mean that show helped me realize I was gay right. I mean I already knew at the point, but it gave me the courage to pursue relationships. And then I was in a relationship with a guy for about four years and sadly he got sick and died. At the time I wasn't out as an actor. So, you know, a New York theater everyone knew he was my boyfriend. But when I moved to La to pursue television, I wasn't out after he had died. So it wasn't really my official coming out. Is just...
...the very it's change through pure through time. There were they used to be different layers of coming out. There was like coming out to your friends, coming out to your family, coming out to the world. That's kind of no longer the paradigm, I don't think. I think people just come out now very early and everyone knows, and I think back then it was just different. You know, it was a different generation, to be honest. And I do want to talk about your loss. It was, you know, during kind of the AIDS epidemic and it's not something that our younger generation of the lgbt community has experienced firsthand. What do you want the new generation of our community to know most about that time period? Sure, I think the most valuable thing, the most valuable takeaway. I'm so glad these kids had to have to live through that. You know, there this was sort of contextual is it? To get an HIV diagnosis in the early s or in the s was ostensibly a death sentence. You knew you were going to die, more more likely than not, from this disease, and so we lived a in fear of that. We also lived in fear of being not allowed into society. So I was I was negative, but my partner was positive and sick, and the created this weird chasm right. I just don't think it's I don't think gay young gay people today can really comprehend the notion that your boyfriend, or your or your or your there was no husband at the time, but your significant other, your lover, as we used to call it back in the day, was dying, that you as their partner, even though that person had said this is the person I want to make my decisions. You could be kicked out of any hospital, out of any out of any hospital room by family members, by a distant cousin, anyone else that had any blood relation to the patient. These are the kinds of rights that I think our younger Lgbtq not all, but a lot of our young arould Gbtq community members kind of don't get that. There are kind of new rights. We haven't had them for that long. They're vulnerable to being tossed out, over ruled, litigated into law. I don't think young LGBTQ members kind of get that there's still not equal protection and in terms of employment in this country as a gay person. So none of that becomes more apparent than when you're dealing with a life and death situation where you could lose your job. If your partner had AIDS, you could be kicked out of your apartment. If your partner had as you know, you could be denied, you know, being fed or restaurant if you're part I I have known people that were kicked out of restaurants because they're they were there with a friend or some of that had carposis or coma or you know, we're living through a pandemic now, so imagine that level, but totally target it just to your community. It was a brutal time and I just I like for our younger generation to educate themselves on it because, you know, history can repeat itself and that's something you don't want to happen. So exactly, I want to talk about Star Trek. That's the first time I came into contact with you. I you know I was I was a young boy like yourself. You has become one of the most beloved guest characters in the Star Trek Franchise Eyes. What do you think it is about hugh that fans have responded to so strongly? I thought that about that a lot since I came back to the show because, you know, I had to revisit what were the key pieces...
...of this character. What? Why? Why? First of all, why did I why was he getting to come back and not the three hundred and fifty other guest stars that did next Gen? Right? Yeah, and so I did a lot of deep diving into the iborg episode, which I think is a beautifully written piece, and one of the things that really sort of stuck out to me. The reason I think he really resonates is that the character taps into something incredibly shared, a shared in common experience called loneliness. And you know there's the old saying you come into the world alone, you leave the world alone. Every human being has experience a level of loneliness, whether it be disconnection from your your family, you can feel you know, certainly people in the gay community felt disconnected from their family. He had that aspect of being disconnected from the collective. So I think it's struck a nerve on loneliness and he says it to Guyan and you know, what you were saying is that you are lonely, and that's exactly the core of what he's about. He to his death on the cube, on the card. Still was lonely, still was alone and Thekay. Yeah, so that I think that that's why he's really resonated and I think that I, as an actor, coming off that great loss, I play that role. About a year after I'd lost Eddie, I loneliness was something I was really really familiar with, disconnection, feeling fear of being alone. You know, I think that that's something that I brought to the table as an actor in a very visceral way, and so I think that that's why it's resonated through all these years. I think you really hit it on the head. The the attraction I first had my I was raised by a single mom. I was only Latino kid in school. I knew that I had different sexual feelings and Star Trek really became that family for me because it showed you that, blood related or not, people that look different from you could really become your family. And you know how he was so welcomed into the enterprise family. I that that totally makes sense. And you know, the whole star Trek Franchise has been enjoying this explosion of lgbtq characters. Will some crews as part of the first gay couple in space that we've seen. Now we're seeing trans and non by Nary characters, which is so exciting for us from so many levels, because that was gene roddenberry's vision, was equality for everyone. Right now there's still some part of the Star Trek uniforce universe and fandom that they're still kind of resisting, saying why does sexuality have to be forced down our throats? You know all this kind of stuff and you know it's a small faction, but they're still kind of vocal. What do you say to star Trek fans who are not so welcoming to our representation? They should go back and relook at Star Trek. Yeah, there's a there's some fantastic episodes in which mean there's one particular with richer lands and the island where it I think they're all nonbinary. I dare say I thought a lot about Hugh and the Borg in Doing Picard and I came to the conclusion that hugh is most likely. The board are either bisexual or at least nonbinary, because sexuality and gender are irrelevant. You know, I mean not to be a punish about it, but so I think. I think. You know, I also hear like Star Trek shouldn't be political, and it's like it's one of the most political written. So I urge those that have pushed back on any of that to kind of...
...go back and relook at Star Trek because that was always there. The intention, you know, from jeans perspective, from everything I understand, was to include, like there were a lot of struggles about went when we'd be able to do these actual stories with, you know, real gay people, a real non binary people and all that. But I think that that was definitely like where the show, the show's heart and mind really comes from. So I think they should go back and relook at Star Trek would be like exactly. You have been part of history twice by working on political campaigns, first Obama, our first black president, and now with Biden and our first black female vice president. Why is it our obligation to become actively involved in our politics? You know, one of the most outstanding facts I heard from the last election was that one in five members of the LGBT community were not registered to vote. Why is it our duty? Well, I don't know who to credit this quote to, but I read it somewhere and I really like it. It's very simple. If you're not at the table, you're probably going to end up on the plate. Who that is so good? So if you're not at the table, so if you're not voting, if you're not getting other people aboute. If you're not voicing your opinion on issues, if you're not buying into what we must buy into, which is our sust and of governance, then chances are that you're particular needs and things that you believe in are going to be up for graphs. So No, one gets to bitch about the last four years of trump in what we lost if they didn't show up to vote. That's my mom personal opinion. No one gets to bitch and I always work my ass off on campaigns because I believe the really really important. I also love politics and I love the possibility of what politics can bring in terms of human rights and opportunities and changing the way the world sees us. There's a million things why it's important to me, but I think the very basics of voting are really, really important, in particular for communities like ours that you know we're not the first people, the first people think of for things we might need. So yeah, I think I think it's kind to be critical to our democracy that people be involved and do the most they can. Well, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your involvement and kind of incorporating the star Trek Universe and that too. It's been a very special year as a tracky, I have to tell you. Okay, yeah, yes, are you ready for a little rapid fire? Sure, okay, if he was to be given a Prequel spinoff, what would it be about? Oh, absolutely, I want a sequel, a Prequel to how the Borg and Hughes involvement with the colony he left behind and sevens involved breaking with the Federation that period. We're all went to hell, probably, I would. I think that that's an exciting because I guess there's a lot of an answer questions about how I got the key chain and what my relationship with her was. When I signed on to Du Picard, my full expectation was I didn't know it is getting killed. So I thought and I knew rry was in it. We both knew we were going to be in it for about a year before it was finished. So I think the expectation in the day, when there are other group of writers working on it, was that she and I would have significant things to do together, and that ended ended up getting scrapped, I think. So it would be fun to have that. Yeah, that was a shock to me.
I was like wait, what, you're watching you and thought you I thought that I was getting killed when I read the script. Man, okay, what would your campaign slogan be if you were running for office? Oh, Jonathan del Arco, let's have some fun. Yes, you got my vout. What guilty pleasure TV show has gotten you through quarantine. Oh my God, there's so many. The most recent one is the great British baking show. I have so I have not seen one episode because I now I'll just sit there for hours and hours. I'll probably eat at crap. You want to just get dive dive head persons for me. I've also been watching the crown and I'm just and when you know there's so much time, I've been binging everything. So yeah, yeah, yeah, if your partner was to give you a hall pass to get friendly with another star trek character from any franchise, who would it be? Star Trek character or after the character from another franchise or any franchise? I guess. I guess it have to be Kirk. Yeah, yeah, just because, because he kind of want to love, hate love them. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'd watch that out without it's very different from me. So, yeah, I mean, but not shatter, ha ha. No, I'm not chatter, Oh my God, poor shatter, or in general. Yeah, so, Paxy and God likes me, Perk. That's like sexy and Brawnie and all. Yes, Oh God, in that green uniform. Oh yes, what is it custom or food from your Guay that you couldn't do without. I Love Duce of the Liche. You know that is yes, it's so good. I don't need it that often, but but when I have a jar of it it doesn't last long. I love sweets. God, good to know. Good to know. Tell everyone where you want them to find you. Follow you. You could find me on twitter, in on Instagram at Jonathan Del Arco, and I'm also going to tease out that I am going to be putting together one or maybe two Super Fun political events for the Georgia runoff. So look for that, because that's going to be they're both going to be fan related events. So you might want to you might want to put that in your in your calendar for some time. I will definitely be putting that in my calendar. Is Such a pleasure talking with you, and also you can you can read more of my interview Whi Jonathan in this issue of Metro source, available on newstands nationally, or go to Metro sourcecom. And that's your episode. I'm your host, Alexander Rodriguez. You can follow me on Instagram at Alexanders on air. Until next time, stay true and do you boat. 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 newsstands or online at Metro sportscom. Follow us on Facebook, instagram at natural source and on twitter at Metro Court mad until next time, take fast.
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