The world of Star Trek has always been one about diversity and inclusion, going back to the very beginning. Now, the franchise is taking that notion even further by introducing its first regular non-binary and transgender characters to Star Trek: Discovery in the upcoming third season.
Discovery’s non-binary character is Adira, played by Blu del Barrio. Adira is “highly intelligent with a confidence and self-assurance well beyond their years”. They will find a new home on the U.S.S. Discovery and form an unexpected bond with Lt. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). Stamets and Culber are the franchise’s first regular ongoing gay characters.
The first transgender character is Gray, portrayed by Ian Alexander. Gray is empathetic, warm and eager to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Trill host, but he will have to adapt when his life takes an unexpected turn. The Trill are the joined species of host and symbiote, most famous for the characters of Jadzia and Ezri Dax in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In a statement, Discovery’s co-showrunner and EP Michelle Paradise said
“Star Trek has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities because it believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach. We take pride in working closely with Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander and Nick Adams at GLAAD to create the extraordinary characters of Adira and Gray, and bring their stories to life with empathy, understanding, empowerment and joy.”
Blu del Barrio is a non-binary actor who uses they/them pronouns. Del Barrio was in their final year of studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art when they auditioned for the role of Adira. Del Barrio has been acting in theater and short films since the age of 7, and they’re incredibly excited to make their television acting debut in season three of Discovery.
Ian Alexander is a 19-year-old actor who uses they/them and he/him pronouns. He is best known for his roles as Buck Vu on the Netflix series The OA and Lev in Naughty Dog’s video game The Last of Us Part II. They are the first out transgender Asian-American person to act on television. He is also an advocate for transgender equality, racial justice and mental health awareness for LGBTQ+ youth.
Although Adira is the first non-binary actor to play a non-binary character, Star Trek: The Next Generation introduced a non-binary character and species in the episode “The Outcast.” That character was limited to one episode however, and was played by a cisgender actress Melinda Culea. Although daring for 1992, actor Jonathan Frakes (Commander Riker) has gone on record saying that the episode wasn’t ultimately daring enough in its portrayal.
The third season of Star Trek: Discovery premieres on Thursday, Oct. 15 on CBS All Access.
Featured Image: CBS All Access