Star Trek Picard's Jonathan Del Arco

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.   

This is metro source minis, theofficial podcast to Metro source magazine and home of short form interviews with your favoritepersonalities from the lgbtq world and beyond. Quick, Fun and informative. It'smetro source on the go, out in proud since one thousand nine hundred andninety. Well, hello, hello, hello. This is metro sports minis. My name is Alexander Rodriguez and I am a trekkoholic. I love allthings star Trek. I have the uniforms, I have the models, the books, the comics, the fan fiction, everything. And Star Trek fans wentcrazy when we found out that COP Captain John Look Picard from Star Trekthe next generation would be returning to screens. That's kept secret that we also hadour pants for, for different reasons, when we found out that the actorand activist Jonathan Tell Arca would be returning, twenty seven years after hisvery first appearance as Hugh, the iconic fan favorite from Star Trek the nextgeneration. And of course, we love Jonathan from his most recent appearances,Dr Fernando Morales, a role that spanned over ten years, over the courseof two series, the closer and major crimes on TNT and of course welove him from Niptock, the Sopranos, twenty four, crossing Jordan, huffsStar Trek Voyager, the wonder year's blossom, remember blossom boy, meets world,Miami, vice, ncias and the crazy ones with Robin Williams. ForGoing College at Eighteen, he joined the company of the Broadway hit torts songtrilogy 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 himhere as a passionate activist on behalf of lgbt rights, immigrants rights, antibullying efforts in the environment. He served as campaign surrogate for President Barack Obamaand Secretary Hillary Clinton and is a sought after public speaker. He has sharedhis coming out story and his childhood as an immigrant and a survivor of bullyingfor the first pride event at FBI headquarters. He spoken at the two thousand andtwelve Democratic convention, the Human Rights Campaign and throughout Corporate America, andof course he worked for Biden. We had a lot of the Star Trekpersonalities come together and we won. What about? So set your faces tostudying and please welcome Jonathan Tell Arco. Well, that introduction one I canlittle 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 itwas a very sweet intro. Of course, you know I'm huge tricky, like I said, and your personality on the show and then having youcome 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 aboutyou know, we've had so much discussion and controversy over immigration in the USand I want to know about your experience growing up in the US as animmigrant 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 tostart real slow. Yeah, I would say that coming to America at ageten, having already formed my personality at that age, you know, youyour former personality by age five, but by ten you really cementing who youare, and so much of that revolves around your environment. Right like theplace you grew up and growing up in Otaguay was so incredibly different to theUS and I had a lot of dreams in my eyes, like I thoughtit was going to be like the Jetson's, remember that show? Oh my God, yes, Rot, yea, the robot. That the woman whodid Rosei, the robot. She was where my friend. Yeah, shewas also the original Wilma Flintstone to FII. But so I was completely devastated tocome to the states and find US living in a run down a partnerin building and a suburb of New York, and it was a great adjustment tothe fantasy of what coming to America...

...would have been like. It wasalso like a cornerstone of me realizing that being different was going to be mylife. You know, I wasn't identifying as gay at that age, butI knew I was different anyw I like boys and being an immigrant was justmade me even more of an outsider. So I had this sort of thesort of like I like to describe it as like the little natch girl perspectivepast 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 thegroups of kids that would be friends, because I was so I was suchthe other you know, not speaking the language, being a feminate at thetime. You know, there was just a lot of obstacles and it turnedout 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 lotof characters is is through my outsider perspective. It's kind of how I view lifein general and it's it's been a real gift. And so over theyears I have you know, I was fortunate that my dad had privilege whenhe came here. He came here legally, and for a long time I kindof kind of hung my hat on that and saying, like, there'sa difference between coming here with papers versus not. And then, as Imatured as a person, I realized how privileged I had actually been in termsof the immigration story writ large, and how much more courage really, howmuch more of a desire for the American dream it takes to come here withnothing, to swim across the Rio grand to walk through the desert to findan American dream. You know, that is that's way more courageous than howmy family came here, and that is the foundation, I think, ofwhat this democracy and what this country is about. Is that idea that weare a place that is a beacon of hope, ideally a place where peoplethat have been left behind can come and work hard. Mean I look athow hard immigrants work in this country. You know, I know I livein California and I know that so many of the harder jobs, that arethe least paying jobs, are happily, happily done by immigrants. And soI have, you know, I become, I've become much more of an activistfor immigration and and really for, you know, not just opening thedoors and in the courts for people to tell us why they want to livehere, but also treating people with dignity at the border. I think thatthat is a key piece that really went the way of Hell in this pastadministration to such an extent. So I'm very relieved that I got to bea surrogate for Biden Harris and I am overjoyed that they that they won theelection. Does a long one wants answer of sorry, no, no,that's you know, that's the right. My family also immigrated from Mexico orfrom 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 sucha 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 orlosing family members on the way that it's...

...in itself has is almost an unsurmountablechallenge, that it does take some courage and then to learn the language andbecome involved in society. You know, the more stories, I think,we hear from immigrants of all different races, you know, the more we reallycan realize that we are all in this together and hopefully the next fouryears we can rebuild relationships and build some bridges. Not African American, ifyou're not black and if you're not native American, you have your family wasan immigrant. Sorry, right, yeah, no other way. Basically every whiteperson in American who is an immigrants from some right putting and most recentlyincluding 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 wouldtake yourself to New York and you would take the classes and audition being castin such an iconic show. And you know the word iconic is thrown aroundso many times, but port song trilogy is truly an iconic piece of theaterand part of the LGBT history. Being so young in the business and takingout 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 youngand you're in different cities, experience in different people. What early actor mistakesdid you make, whether it's like on stage or be or behind the scenes? I have a real whopper. So yeah, think about it. Iwas in one of the productions, mean one of the casts of the originaltrilogy. So I was just watching boys in the band and Yep, youknow, some of these things we went to hadn't had a gay play performedsince boys in the band and if you know, boys in the band's verydark 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 becausehe adopts a teenage son, which is my care archer, and I gotto 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 towalk to the theater together. So I got introduced to gay culture in avery deep way at a very young age. My biggest mistake was there is amoment in the end of act, the Third Act, which is theone I'm in, toward the end, when the two carecters, two malecharacters, 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. AndI 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 heardmy 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 gota lot of fit for that. It's like, oh, that's how theymoved to third base. I know. I was like what's going on onhere, boys, but doing that show, it kind of helped you come outright. Yeah, my coming out process was really different from every everyone'sgot a different process. I mean that show helped me realize I was gayright. I mean I already knew at the point, but it gave methe courage to pursue relationships. And then I was in a relationship with aguy for about four years and sadly he got sick and died. At thetime I wasn't out as an actor. So, you know, a NewYork theater everyone knew he was my boyfriend. But when I moved to La topursue television, I wasn't out after he had died. So it wasn'treally my official coming out. Is just...

...the very it's change through pure throughtime. There were they used to be different layers of coming out. Therewas like coming out to your friends, coming out to your family, comingout to the world. That's kind of no longer the paradigm, I don'tthink. I think people just come out now very early and everyone knows,and I think back then it was just different. You know, it wasa different generation, to be honest. And I do want to talk aboutyour loss. It was, you know, during kind of the AIDS epidemic andit'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 aboutthat time period? Sure, I think the most valuable thing, the mostvaluable 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 getan HIV diagnosis in the early s or in the s was ostensibly a deathsentence. 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 wasI was negative, but my partner was positive and sick, and the createdthis weird chasm right. I just don't think it's I don't think gay younggay people today can really comprehend the notion that your boyfriend, or your oryour 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 thisis the person I want to make my decisions. You could be kickedout of any hospital, out of any out of any hospital room by familymembers, by a distant cousin, anyone else that had any blood relation tothe patient. These are the kinds of rights that I think our younger Lgbtqnot all, but a lot of our young arould Gbtq community members kind ofdon't get that. There are kind of new rights. We haven't had themfor that long. They're vulnerable to being tossed out, over ruled, litigatedinto law. I don't think young LGBTQ members kind of get that there's stillnot 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 lifeand 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 asyou know, you could be denied, you know, being fed or restaurantif you're part I I have known people that were kicked out of restaurants becausethey're they were there with a friend or some of that had carposis or comaor 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 timeand 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 tohappen. So exactly, I want to talk about Star Trek. That's thefirst time I came into contact with you. I you know I was I wasa young boy like yourself. You has become one of the most belovedguest characters in the Star Trek Franchise Eyes. What do you think it is abouthugh that fans have responded to so strongly? I thought that about thata lot since I came back to the show because, you know, Ihad to revisit what were the key pieces...

...of this character. What? Why? Why? First of all, why did I why was he getting tocome back and not the three hundred and fifty other guest stars that did nextGen? Right? Yeah, and so I did a lot of deep divinginto the iborg episode, which I think is a beautifully written piece, andone of the things that really sort of stuck out to me. The reasonI 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 sayingyou come into the world alone, you leave the world alone. Every humanbeing has experience a level of loneliness, whether it be disconnection from your yourfamily, you can feel you know, certainly people in the gay community feltdisconnected 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 toGuyan 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 onthe cube, on the card. Still was lonely, still was alone andThekay. Yeah, so that I think that that's why he's really resonated andI think that I, as an actor, coming off that great loss, Iplay that role. About a year after I'd lost Eddie, I lonelinesswas 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 thetable as an actor in a very visceral way, and so I think thatthat's why it's resonated through all these years. I think you really hit it onthe head. The the attraction I first had my I was raised bya single mom. I was only Latino kid in school. I knew thatI had different sexual feelings and Star Trek really became that family for me becauseit showed you that, blood related or not, people that look different fromyou could really become your family. And you know how he was so welcomedinto 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 excitingfor us from so many levels, because that was gene roddenberry's vision, wasequality for everyone. Right now there's still some part of the Star Trek uniforceuniverse and fandom that they're still kind of resisting, saying why does sexuality haveto be forced down our throats? You know all this kind of stuff andyou know it's a small faction, but they're still kind of vocal. Whatdo 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 athere's some fantastic episodes in which mean there's one particular with richer lands and theisland where it I think they're all nonbinary. I dare say I thought a lotabout Hugh and the Borg in Doing Picard and I came to the conclusionthat hugh is most likely. The board are either bisexual or at least nonbinary, because sexuality and gender are irrelevant. You know, I mean not tobe a punish about it, but so I think. I think. Youknow, I also hear like Star Trek shouldn't be political, and it's likeit's one of the most political written. So I urge those that have pushedback on any of that to kind of...

...go back and relook at Star Trekbecause that was always there. The intention, you know, from jeans perspective,from everything I understand, was to include, like there were a lotof 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'sheart and mind really comes from. So I think they should go back andrelook at Star Trek would be like exactly. You have been part of history twiceby working on political campaigns, first Obama, our first black president,and now with Biden and our first black female vice president. Why is itour obligation to become actively involved in our politics? You know, one ofthe most outstanding facts I heard from the last election was that one in fivemembers of the LGBT community were not registered to vote. Why is it ourduty? Well, I don't know who to credit this quote to, butI read it somewhere and I really like it. It's very simple. Ifyou'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. Ifyou're not voicing your opinion on issues, if you're not buying into what wemust buy into, which is our sust and of governance, then chances arethat you're particular needs and things that you believe in are going to be upfor graphs. So No, one gets to bitch about the last four yearsof trump in what we lost if they didn't show up to vote. That'smy mom personal opinion. No one gets to bitch and I always work myass off on campaigns because I believe the really really important. I also lovepolitics and I love the possibility of what politics can bring in terms of humanrights and opportunities and changing the way the world sees us. There's a millionthings why it's important to me, but I think the very basics of votingare really, really important, in particular for communities like ours that you knowwe're not the first people, the first people think of for things we mightneed. So yeah, I think I think it's kind to be critical toour 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 ofincorporating the star Trek Universe and that too. It's been a very special year asa tracky, I have to tell you. Okay, yeah, yes, are you ready for a little rapid fire? Sure, okay, ifhe was to be given a Prequel spinoff, what would it be about? Oh, absolutely, I want a sequel, a Prequel to how the Borg andHughes involvement with the colony he left behind and sevens involved breaking with theFederation 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 answerquestions 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 knowit is getting killed. So I thought and I knew rry was init. We both knew we were going to be in it for about ayear 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 andI 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 Iread the script. Man, okay, what would your campaign slogan be ifyou were running for office? Oh, Jonathan del Arco, let's have somefun. Yes, you got my vout. What guilty pleasure TV show has gottenyou through quarantine. Oh my God, there's so many. The most recentone is the great British baking show. I have so I have not seenone 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 personsfor me. I've also been watching the crown and I'm just and when youknow 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 getfriendly 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? Iguess. I guess it have to be Kirk. Yeah, yeah, justbecause, 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 ingeneral. Yeah, so, Paxy and God likes me, Perk. That'slike sexy and Brawnie and all. Yes, Oh God, in that green uniform. Oh yes, what is it custom or food from your Guay thatyou couldn't do without. I Love Duce of the Liche. You know thatis yes, it's so good. I don't need it that often, butbut when I have a jar of it it doesn't last long. I lovesweets. God, good to know. Good to know. Tell everyone whereyou want them to find you. Follow you. You could find me ontwitter, in on Instagram at Jonathan Del Arco, and I'm also going totease out that I am going to be putting together one or maybe two SuperFun political events for the Georgia runoff. So look for that, because that'sgoing to be they're both going to be fan related events. So you mightwant to you might want to put that in your in your calendar for sometime. I will definitely be putting that in my calendar. Is Such apleasure talking with you, and also you can you can read more of myinterview 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. Untilnext time, stay true and do you boat. That has been another metrosource mini like, share, subscribe on your favorite podcast player and check outthe 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 Courtmad until next time, take fast.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (44)