Yesterday, on People of Earth, fans got to meet Adira, the bright teenager who joined the crew of Discovery, and who is played by Blu del Barrio.
In interviews with Star Trek.com and ET, del Barrio spoke about their struggles with gender, being cast and being a role model.
Del Barrio is the first non-binary performer to be cast in Star Trek and what did that mean to them? “I’m still processing that feeling, because it means a lot for me,” they said. “If I had had a character like Adira or Gray on screen when I was eight or nine years old, it would have really changed my life, I think, for the better. I’m sort of speechless. It’s really hard to think about the fact that Ian and I are now playing those characters, characters that I would have wished for as a kid. So I’m so grateful to be able to be doing this, really.
“The whole year before I got this job, I was struggling a lot with trying to understand who I was and struggling a lot with my gender. I was questioning a lot of things and I started auditioning for non-binary roles because I knew I wasn’t cisgender and I was trying to figure myself out. I kept getting drawn to wanting to play a non-binary role, probably because I wanted to be able to explore myself that way but I wasn’t really telling anyone about it.
“Getting this job and getting to play Adira was really overwhelming at first, but overall a massive blessing because it allowed me to explore myself. I’ve grown alongside Adira. It’s a really strange way for it to happen, but I’m so glad that it has.”
Del Barrio hopes to encourage others who aren’t used to seeing those like themselves on television. “I’m honored to be able to be a voice and to be able to play this character who, hopefully, will help a lot of people and will show a lot of people a reflection of themselves, because that’s all we want to see as people,” they said. “We want to see ourselves reflected in other things, and trans people haven’t really gotten that in the media. So it’s finally now starting to be a little bit more apparent, a little bit more available to us, to finally be able to see ourselves on screen reflected back to us.
“I’m incredibly humbled to be able to be doing what I’m doing, and to play a character who is still figuring themselves out, I think, is also really important, because a lot of the characters we do see are very confident and assured in who they are. Adira, like myself at the start of this, is still trying to figure out how to explain themselves and how to talk about themselves to the rest of the world.”
So what can fans expect from Adira now that they’re on the USS Discovery? “Going forward, they are just going to have to open up,” said del Barrio. “Right now, they’re so introverted and closed off, because of the stuff they’ve been through in their past. They’re now alone on this ship with people that they don’t know. There’s not one person on that ship that they are close to. So really, for things to happen the way that they want them to happen, they’re going to have to open up, and that by itself is a huge challenge for them as a person. But it’s going to cause really wonderful things to happen, because as we know the Discovery crew is filled with wonderful people and fantastic characters. I’m really excited for people to see it.
“I think that Adira is in a place of hopelessness. I think that probably their belief in the Federation maybe has stumbled and faltered, because of things that have happened to them. But I think that they are someone who is looking for hope in any direction that they can find it. So hopefully meeting people on Discovery and meeting people who are hopeful of the Federation, believe in the Federation, that, that will get that belief back in them.”