First Trans, Nonbinary Characters Beam Aboard 'Star Trek: Discovery' for Season 3

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday September 7, 2020

Nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio warps into the future with 'Star Trek: Discovery'
Nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio warps into the future with 'Star Trek: Discovery'  (Source:Blu del Barrio / Instagram)

"Star Trek: Discovery" continues to explore new frontiers, adding both a trans character and a nonbinary character into the show's mix for the coming third season, Deadline reports.

Ian Alexander will play the role of the transgender character Gray, an alien belonging to the Trill race, Deadline reported. Trill is a familiar alien species to "Star Trek" fans; a conjoined species who host long-lived, slug-like "symbionts," the Trill are able to live for centuries in many different incarnations that span both genders. Alexander made history as the first openly trans Asian-American actor to appear on a TV series, Deadline noted - namely, the Britt Marling-led "The OA," a Netflix fantasy drama that ran for two seasons.

The nonbinary character, Adira, will be played by nonbinary actor Blu del Barrio, who is new to television. UK newspaper the Daily Mail reports that del Barrio was still a student at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) when they auditioned for the part.

It's not clear whether Adira will be human or alien, but Deadline reports that they will form a close bond with the show's groundbreaking same-sex couple, scientist Dr. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and medical officer Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz). The couple has been part of "Discovery" since its 2017 premiere, and are the first LGBTQ regular characters in the franchise, which spans more than a half-century, starting with the original "Star Trek," which premiered in 1966.

Rapp excitedly took to social media to announce the casting news, calling the two new additions "beautiful souls and wonderful artists" in a Twitter post.

"Star Trek" fans have long been vocal about wanting to see more representation in the franchise, which famously included people of different ethnicities in its original 1960s run. "Discovery" co-showrunner Michelle Paradise recalled in comments posted at StarTrek.com that, " 'Star Trek' has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities," and went on to say, "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."

"Star Trek: Discovery" returns to CBS All Access on October 15.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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