Who are Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander? ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ adds first transgender and non-binary characters
'For a show as progressive as Star Trek has historically been, real LGBTQ representation in the franchise is loooong overdue,' said a user
We have some exciting news for ‘Star Trek’ fans. The series is taking a positive step towards inclusivity and will include a non-binary and a transgender character portrayed by actors who identify themselves with these gender identities. As reported by USA Today, non-binary character Adira (played by Blu del Barrio) and transgender character named Gray (played by Ian Alexander) will be introduced in the third season of ‘Star Trek: Discovery’.
According to an announcement it was stated that “Adira is highly intelligent with confidence and self-assurance beyond their years and finds a new home on the USS Discovery, forming an unexpected bond with Lt Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). 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.”
Who is Blu del Barrio and Ian Alexander?
Blu is a non-binary actor who uses they/them pronouns. During the final year at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the actor's audition for the role took place, as reported by Deadline. Before this series, Blu has been involved with acting in theater and short films since age seven, as per USA Today. Talking to GLAAD about the character, the actor said, “When I got the call that I'd been cast as Adira, I hadn't yet told the majority of my friends and family that I was non-binary. I had only recently discovered the word and realized that it described how I'd felt for a long time. I knew I wanted to tell my friends and family, so when this (role) happened, it felt like the universe saying 'go ahead’. So in a way, Adira's story ends up mirroring mine.”
Talking about co-star Alexander, Blu told GLAAD, “I honestly cannot speak highly enough of Ian. I absolutely love him, and it was so fun working alongside him. Having him join the show with me was a godsend. It's pretty overwhelming joining a show with such a well-known cast going into its third season. So I was so thankful to have his support whenever I was freaking out. He's a talented, hardworking actor, and an all-around magnificent human being, so it was a joy having him as a partner.”
Alexander uses the pronouns they/them and he/him pronouns, is known for his role as Buck Vu on Netflix’s ‘The OA’. The actor is also known for Lev in the video game ‘The Last of Us Part II’. According to Deadline, Alexander is the first openly transgender Asian-American person to act on television. The report suggests, he is also a promoter for transgender equality, racial justice and mental health awareness for LGBTQ+ youth. According to an NBC report, Alexander shared about being transgender in December 2014 with friends and a month later with parents. In June 2019, Queerty named him one of their Pride50: “individuals who are leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people”.
Alexander shared the casting news on Instagram stories and also posted one photo and a video with the caption: “I’m the happiest angel ever. Check my stories and my next post for more info. image description: 1st image Ian Alexander wearing a necklace that says “ANGEL.” 2nd image Ian Alexander is very energetic, they stand up and say “I’m extremely excited, so I’m shaking my a**” and they begin to dance in their skirt and rainbow crop top.”
The series has been in the news for being inclusive, apart from these two new characters. ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ is led by actor Sonequa Martin-Green -- the first woman of color to lead a show in the Star Trek franchise, as reported by Deadline. Additionally, Rapp and Cruz’s characters are openly gay and are in a same-sex marriage in the series.
In a statement to ET, co-showrunner 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.” She added, “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.”
One user said, "For a show as progressive as Star Trek has historically been, real LGBTQ representation in the franchise is loooong overdue. I'm not a big Discovery fan, but I'm pleased to see Star Trek embracing IDIC more completely."
For a show as progressive as Star Trek has historically been, real LGBTQ representation in the franchise is loooong overdue. I'm not a big Discovery fan, but I'm pleased to see Star Trek embracing IDIC more completely.— dreadpiraterose (@dreadpiraterose) September 2, 2020
Another stated, "Ok sorry for Messy Screaming this is just The Biggest Deal to me i am genuinely so thankful that there's finally a nonbinary star trek character before this I would just headcanon characters as nonbinary but now there's one that Canonically Is and can know my struggles"
ok sorry for Messy Screaming this is just The Biggest Deal to me i am genuinely so thankful that there's finally a nonbinary star trek character <3 before this I would just headcanon characters as nonbinary but now there's one that Canonically Is and can know my struggles ;w; pic.twitter.com/szE5os1FmV— mulcahy's y/n 🍸 (@presidentpoppy) September 2, 2020
One user wrote: "It's been 15 minutes and I'm only getting more emotional about this... finally.... trans folks in space... it's what we deserve from star trek... it's what star trek always intended to do... it's making good on a 50-year-old promise.... I'm emotional"
it's been 15 minutes and i'm only getting more emotional about this... finally.... trans folks in space... it's what we deserve from star trek... it's what star trek always intended to do... it's making good on a 50 year old promise.... im emotional— bc | ☆ Paige ★ Hex ☆ (@TheBase16) September 2, 2020
cw: vintage trans terms pic.twitter.com/98XLKbzTNl
Season three of 'Star Trek: Discovery' will premiere October 15.