EXCLUSIVE: One on One with Star Trek Picard's T'Veen, Stephanie Czajkowski
SPOILER ALERT! What happens to T'Veen, the Vulcan/Deltan science officer aboard the Titan this week? We talked about that in my exclusive interview. Plus: Being LGBTQ+ and a cancer long-hauler
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If you have not yet watched Star Trek Picard Part Eight, titled Surrender, stop reading and go do so, then come back! You’ll thank me later.
On Wednesday, which was First Contact Day in the world of Star Trek, actor Stephanie Czajkowski joined me via Zoom for a conversation. I also connected with Star Trek Picard showrunner and executive producer Terry Matalas and writer Matt Okumura to learn more about this incredible performer, who played T’Veen, the Titan’s science officer. Her character is a Vulcan with Deltan ancestry, something fans have not seen before, although we have seen bald Vulcans before (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock).
“Stephanie nailed this role right from her first taped audition,” said Matalas. “It was always her. She was our Vulcan science officer. She had this incredible look and we worked together to craft a backstory for T'Veen. It was Steph who came up with the Deltan blood angle, which I loved.
“As the episodes came in and the cuts came together, she just popped,” Matalas told me. “We knew she was going to be a fan favorite. So, when we got to the big moment in the writers room in episode 8, where we knew Vadic [played by Amanda Plummer] was going to off one of our own, we started a debate. Originally, Vadic killed an ND [non-descript] crewman we had never really spent any time with. Your standard Red Shirt.
“But at the end of the episode, Vadic was going to be sucked out into space. And in that moment, we really wanted the audience to cheer. The way you cheer when Joffrey Lannister finally gets his. Unfortunately, that typically means your villain has to hurt the audience in a way that's meaningful.
“So, we said, ‘Well, we are at the end. We only have two episodes left. T'Veen had a good run. And her twin sister can come join us for a spin off should we ever be that lucky. But it would feel pretty terrible to lose T'Veen.’ So we made the terrible choice. And Steph was such a pro about it. We told her right away and she got it.
“And we're amazing friends to this day, texting all the time. She's the best. I love the impact she's had on the Trek audience so far and hope we have another chance to see her in a series again!”
“Oh man, yeah that one HURT,” Okumura told me. “At first, when we realized someone needed to go in order for Vadic to have teeth, and then it was even worse when we saw how damn good Stephanie was all season. Terry loved her — and the whole bridge crew, in fact. That was so important to him — to have representation, which meant the world to me,” the writer said.
“I hope we get to do a spin-off someday so Terry can bring her back as a new character!”
Czajkowski hopes so, too, and I told Matalas that before he even mentioned it, we had discussed the possibility T’Veen has an identical twin in Starfleet!
Here’s my interview with Stephanie Czajkowski:
The transcript of this interview was lightly edited for clarity
Dawn Ennis: Stephanie, it's such a pleasure to talk to you.
Stephanie Czajkowski Oh, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
DE: Happy Star Trek First Contact Day. Your hair looks lovely, by the way.
SC: Oh, thanks. Yeah, it's coming back. It's so funny because, for a couple of years, I was so used to having no hair at all. And so it's, you know, it’s a process. Part of me is like someone’s paying me to shave it again? I'm totally cool with that.
DE: I read that you are a long-hauler cancer survivor.
DE: And my power to you I have the BRCA gene and I've survived skin cancer and my wife died of cancer. My father and my father in law. All because of cancer.
SC: So sorry.
DE: Yeah. I'm so glad that you're fighting cancer. So, thank you.
SC: I'm like, knock wood. We're not quite to the Star Trek levels of abilities to catch. But if you catch it early, do preventative checks, outcomes in overall intensive treatment are improved. My mom died of a rare cancer. And when I had my first round of chemo, it was nine years afterward, and the guy next to me had the same kind of literally incurable cancer. And the nurse was like, “Yeah, if you catch it early now it's like a chronic condition.” And I'm like, “Holy shit!” Like, science is amazing.
DE: It is seven years since my late wife died and she knew she had issues in 2014 and waited too long. And by the time they finally detected it was cancer, it was stage four.
SC: Oh, God.
DE: I'm the person who goes to the doctor if I have a hangnail.
SC: It's, well, it's a hard thing. I feel having to be the person who cares for someone with cancer is such a hard other thing that people don't talk about enough because, well, you're like, “I can't complain because I don't have cancer.” And I'm like, “No, you still have feelings!”
DE: Also, when you lose your mom. Or when I lost my dad. He had 17 days from diagnosis to death.
SC: Oh, God.
DE: But I will tell you, as a transgender woman, my best friend and I both woke up to the possibility that maybe we should explore this gender identity question because of the loss of our fathers. It's sort of like this moment where you say, “Wow, life is short. I only have so much time on Earth, I really should explore this.” So I in a way, I'm grateful to my dad for giving me the gift of taking a moment and pausing and saying, “You know, I really should look into this.” And next month it'll be ten years.
SC: Oh, my! Happy ten year anniversary! Happy birthday! 10th birthday. It'll be ten. Right?
DE: Now, I read that you're also a member of our LGBTQ community. How do you identify? What are your pronouns?
SC: My pronouns are she/they. It’s not even new. I went to college during the height of the AIDS crisis and I had friends who were definitely lesbian, and I consider myself more bisexual. Friends were like, “Oh, that's like a really easy way to pass.” I didn't really contend with gender in particular. Like I knew that my gender expression didn't really have a term growing up because…
DE: It wasn't a word.
SC: It's funny because I have so many friends like gay men, friends who are like, “My friend's daughter is identifying as…” And I'm like, “You need to calm down.” Because when I was coming of age, all of my friends were, you know, they’re tomboys and, you know, and if you are, and then maybe you were a lesbian.
But on the flip side of that, if you showed anything that was a feminine trait, specifically as a biological man, you were just made fun of. And I just feel like this generation of kids have finally a term for something and I'm like, “Oh, I understand this!” And in particular, for me, you know, I've been attracted romantically, sexually, to all genders for a long time. It took me a while to be, I think, open about it simply because I was like, “Oh, if I'm attracted to men too, then this is just easier.” And I'm already trying to be an actor.
But I've had open conversations with partners about that for years. And in terms of identity, gender identity, I think it really hit me when I shaved my head. I looked in the mirror and went, “Oh, there you are!” Because for the first time I did not feel constrained by the idea of what “feminine” was or “woman” was. I knew unequivocally, like, if anyone has ever referred to me as a man, I'm like, “Fuck no!”
But I always felt like there was this other thing that we couldn't point to. And when I was bald, I felt like when I lost my hair, when I was bald, that I fully fell into myself because I wasn't having to identify as one thing or another. I was just me.
DE: Hair is such a gendered thing.
SC: Oh, my God! So much!
DE: I can't get over how many people will say to me, “Oh, you're wearing a wig?” Or they try to troll me by saying “It's a guy in a wig.” And I'm like, “Do you know how many women wear wigs or hair extensions or color their hair?” I always say, when people ask me, “Is that your real hair?” I say, “Yes, it's mine. I paid for it.”
SC: I also think it's so interesting to me because as I get older, I find — especially I went to acting school and I was in the LGBTQ community all the time and consider myself part of it, but not like an ally, but part of it. And I also felt because I am totally one of those people that I'm like, “Well, if I haven't been oppressed in a specific way, am I allowed to claim to be part of a community who I love so deeply Because I recognize, again, as I said in college, like my friends who were out and proud were walking the streets as the Pink Panthers getting their asses handed to me. And I didn't have to go through that. So, I'm sometimes I'm like, am I allowed to do that? You know, I’m old, so I'm like, fuck it.
DE: You’re not old!
SC: I'm old. I have cancer, and specifically now that I have a platform, because being alive is fucking political. Specifically, when we are watching as they've ripped apart Roe v. Wade and now you have an entire political party specifically trying to stir up anger at people and friends of mine who've already been marginalized and have been hurt. And literally, it's not “for the children,” it's not for the fucking children, it's just to get votes. There is nothing about this that’s about the children.
DE: It’s all about the votes.
SC: And it drives me fucking insane. And it's funny because I'm like, Fuck you all, just fuck you all. Even Roe v. Wade, for some reason I thought that anybody who had a uterus and wanted autonomy over their body would be really angry. And there are people that aren't. And I just don't understand.
DE: A lot of this is religious-based and some of it is ethical. But my bottom line is, I have no control over your body. Yeah, and that's what should be. And as a trans woman, I am also in favor of reproductive rights, not just for trans men, but because I don't want a man telling me what to do with my body either.
SC: And where they get off, when it comes to reproductive rights, is this idea of, and again, it's the same thing that they're doing when it comes to gender affirming care. It's this idea that it's they're trying to make something that is so nuanced, so black and white, and I just can't I can't wrap my brain around it.
My brother, he and his wife have two daughters who had to have late term abortions because of the danger to their health. It was awful. And I and I have other friends on this flip side: birth control didn't work, but it is such a large thing on that level.
But also, it is hard enough being a fucking human. It is hard enough being an adolescent. It is hard enough being a child. So, to suddenly, suddenly be putting yourself in between what parents are trying to do to raise healthy and happy humans is none of your fucking, none of anybody else's fucking business as far as I'm concerned. As long as you are not directly hurting other people, I don't fucking care.
DE: I interviewed Pete Buttigieg back in January and he said this about all this fighting about parents’ rights: “Well, what about the rights of parents who want to raise their kids with affirming gender care or affirming their sexual orientation? Don't those parents have rights, too?”
SC: I love him so much.
DE: Oh my God. He's amazing.
SC: When he announced he was running for president, I was like, “You will get my money because I don't think you're going to get the presidency. No, but I need to keep you in this conversation as long as possible.”
DE: How cool is it that we have somebody queer in the cabinet?
SC: It's just great.
DE: And then, like, every time we make a step forward there is Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert and Ron DeSantis.
SC: You mean Ron DeSatan.
DE: My best friend in the whole world, Maia Monet, who — I hope you will say hello to Maia for me —
SC: I will.
DE: She is telling me that as of July 1st, a new law says she won't be able to use the women's bathroom. She won't be able to see her doctor for gender affirming care. She's a trans woman. She needs hormones. And she is an adult. It's not just the kids they’re targeting.
SC: Oh, yeah. What's interesting to me about Florida and how he's playing so deeply into the extreme right wing of Trump voters, because he knows he's going to run. And he knows he needs them. But the thing about it is, if you look at what fucking happened here in Wisconsin last night, we have a generation of kids who do not declare themselves as Democrat or Republican and they are not going to put up with that bullshit.
Somebody said this when Trump got in, that was like the last deep breath of toxic masculinity. But oh, my God, they just keep giving it air. And everybody who's in the path of that, I just feel such empathy for, because all you're trying to do is live as a human being. Like, it's just the idea that this man in those ugly white boots, OMG! All of the shit that he is doing, it's just not going to fly. It's not going to fly nationally. I mean, you already had Disney go — I'm not a big corporate fan with the shit that Iger did, to basically pull DeSantis’s right away to legislate for them? I'm like, “Hell yeah!”
DE: I learned a new word today. Again, I manage the podcast here at the University of Hartford and someone came in and talked about “the manosphere.” I love that word because it explains this purified air that these people live in where they think that they're always right and that we don't have a voice. We have equal voices, but we're not given those rights. We're not allowed to practice those rights. Those rights are being withheld. I'm so glad to hear you talk about this activism. I think that there is actually an entire section of Star Trek that doesn't understand that what Roddenberry and all the other Star Trek creators have done is think about diversity and about inclusion, and they're arguing against “Woke Trek” or “Nu Trek.” And while I don't think Picard went there, it does show something that is very important to me as a trans woman: The family you choose, not necessarily birth family, but being able to have the family you choose.
Now, it's really emotional in terms of how Jack got fucked over by not having a father all his life. But can you talk to me a little bit about how you felt as someone whose father loved Star Trek, which I read, and whose mom was a cosplay seamstress? I would love to know what you thought of the whole idea of the evolution of Star Trek in this new universe of different kinds of Star Trek.
SC: I thought that one of the one of the big things again for me, because my father, I have this connection to Star Trek through my parents, in this very strange way. Like my dad loving it and my dad being very, very kind of, he was very Klingon. He loved the Klingons, but he was very angry and didn't know how to express it. And then my mother was very spiritual. And so, there was something for me in playing a Vulcan, who we again gave a little bit of Deltan to, which I appreciate, of being on this starship. Granted, not in primary position for narrative, but being part of this, I don't want to say, almost legacy, of family in all these different ways.
And I think the thing that's super special to me about the way that Terry Matalas set up this season, and the way that we specifically as bridge crew members were invited to be part of the narrative, but also in a larger scale, in a way that the way that Terry put us out in the universe, even though he didn't have to, made us even more a part of that family. And it’s just like that expression, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Like, I feel fully... Sometimes I might say to myself, “Steph, you don't even say that much,” but I'll be like, “You got to do it!” I so promote this show because I feel like and I call it “my show,” you know, even though I'm not Ashley or I'm not LeVar, but because I'm part of it.
And you know, that kind of connection, the fact that, you know, we're looking at different generations. We're also seeing as you start to see, Jack, as you start to see, Sidney, we're also seeing Trek, we're seeing this universe through different and younger eyes. You know, it means the world to me that Jin [Maley], who is nonbinary in life, also is specifically nonbinary in this show. It’s, I think, in the way that Roddenberry envisioned, because we're not like, “Oh, by the way,” like having to point it's out. We're not pointing it out. It just is.
DE: Right. It's just a part of who we are. I like to say that being trans is the fifth most interesting thing about me.
SC: Yeah, except for people who've never encountered anything like that before. And that's the beauty of Trek overall, is we're looking to a place where, as opposed to, you know, fighting everything. There's a theory that, Star Wars fights everything, and Star Trek welcomes it in. It's this idea that we're seeking out new worlds not to conquer them, but to commune with them, and everything we do, this season is not a comeuppance, but because we are going back to DS9 and things like that, we're looking at where we've come from because that has been Picard's journey throughout the three seasons, to look at what we've created and what's happened. Like Todd's monologue about Wolf 359, just watching Patrick react is, so often older generations don't look at the mess they've made, because there are things that governments do in their name.
DE: You mentioned an interview with Geek Girl Authority that you and Todd know each other previous to Picard. So tell me about he's like, because we got to interview him in the junket before the show premiered and what a riot. I mean he's great. One of our favorite new characters. Absolutely!
SC: My God! He is. It's so funny. He's from Chicago. I'm from southern Wisconsin. I grew up like a suburb away from him. Years later, not many years, we're not that old, there's not that big of a difference. And then he stayed in Chicago. I went to New York. He was in New York, our paths just never crossed, even though there was part of me that was aware of what he was doing in Manhattan because he was a “Second City” guy. And he came out to L.A. and when I came out, I did a showcase to get an agent, whatever. I think it was almost 20 years ago now. The guy who arranged it hired Todd to direct it. And then I took his acting class. But he was only at the studio for a little while. And then he booked The Riches [TV series 2007-2008] and he had an improv studio that he had opened. And it was called The Hothouse. And that's where I went. That was my first experience, like larger experience in improv, and I adored it. I adored the way that he and his partner had set it up. So, he was kind of my teacher, but not, but we were in each other's lives because we knew these people.
I met a good friend of ours also ended up having breast cancer and I had known her through some things, but she was a very good friend of his for years and years. So it was one of those things that we're kind of circling and we knew each other but didn't necessarily hang out all the time. But it's that weird false intimacy you have when you're on social media and you are like, “I know everything about you.” And then suddenly, you get to sit down in real life and literally, I think for the first day or two we were on set, we just blabbing away. We hadn't seen each other in person, God, for like eight years. Like it'd been a long, long time.
DE: And the funny thing is, the last time he was on Star Trek, he had the ears. And this time it was your turn.
SC: Right. He is also one of those people, who’s so, has always been as long as I've known him, an instructor. And it was one of the reasons I loved him, as an instructor, because so often I felt that in drama school, everyone's like, “You do it this way.” There was a right way. And that's been something that I'm like, “There's not the right way.” It's just… “Don't make it right. Just make it real,” because everybody is different.
DE: I love that. “Don’t make it right. Make it real.” Oh, that's great.
SC: That's become my mini mantra because sometimes I'll get very in my head about it. It has to be “right.” Don't make it right, make it messy, make it make it real, make it feel real. And Todd was one of those people. He was the first person I ever encountered who was like, “Okay, we're doing comedy, but what's your take on this? Because your vessel is going to be different than anyone else's.” And that's what's so beautiful about how Todd works.
But also, he is one of the people that I've known, one of the only people I've known in my life who genuinely just it feels like he's playing, and he brings a levity to a set that is so lovely and just makes the working environment that much better. I remember I think it was one of the times he was not on [the set], and Jonathan Frakes asked Jeri [Ryan], “Have you guys met? Have you met? Do you know Todd yet? Like, have you met him yet?” And he's like, “You're going to love him. He's great.”
DE: The fans love him, too, I just think they're all over Todd. And I loved him in 12 Monkeys, But I didn't get to enjoy his character in that show as much as I enjoy him here. You mentioned Terry Matalas, who I've been blessed to communicate with. I told him I was talking to you today. He had three words to say about you. “I love her.”
SC: Oh! Oh, I love him. So, you know, it's so funny. We are due to go out for drinks for like a year now. It was one of those that, we saw each other on set, and it's one of those things that, again, this is what made this particular production special to me, is just a connection you find with people. I mean, I had to wake up at 3:00 in the morning sometimes and drive to Santa Clarita to get my stuff done. And there are very few people I want to spend time with at 4:30 in the morning. I have to give such props to him, even when I left, I was like, “Thank you so much,” But Terry so genuinely loves these characters, loves this franchise. Everything he does is with such care and I love that. You don't always get that. And I feel so fortunate. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it because fom the onset, when I saw that first script and it said “The Next Generation,” it gave me chills.
DE: Us, too. So, you've mentioned the words “When I left.” As a journalist, I've been able to watch the episodes, including the one that will have dropped by the time this is seen by the public. I will tell you, when Vadic pulled the trigger on the phaser, I literally screamed “NO!” And I knew you had to be coy when you did the interview with Geek Girl Authority about, you know, “Maybe she'll do other things,” but hopefully you didn’t know you were going to be killed.
SC: I didn’t know!
DE: From the beginning. They didn't tell you?
SC: I didn't know.
DE: What was that like, finding out?
SC: Well, there's part of you as an actor that's like, “They hate me!” There is FOMO because you've been on it so long and you want to be to the very end.
DE: Of course, because you want to be on it all the way to the very end, right?
SC: My nickname amongst Joe [Lee, who plays Bajoran tactical officer Lt. Matthew Arliss Mura] and Jin was “T’VMZ!” We would get the scripts and when we finally get to read them, I'd be like, “I think Ashley and Jack are going to get together!” I'd have all these theories. I wasn't in on the thing, but I'm like, “It would be logical that this would happen.” I'd have all these working theories. And Joe used to call me, “TVMZ,” like, I got the inside scoop.
So, when I found out, I first I was like, ”Oh shit, dude.” And then I was like, “Whoa.” I mean, it hurts because you want to be there to the end it. You also are like, “Oh, fuck, did they kill me off because I'm not doing a good job?” You're like, you know, “There was that one day that I was having trouble with my lines because I'd been up so early.” And here’s the thing: It's none of that. None of that. It is stepping back and just looking at how you're crafting a story. And Deborah [Kampmeier, a director on Star Trek Picard] was the one who actually gave me the news. She led up to it, it was so funny, because she led up to it, saying, “I love what you're doing, which is why I was gutted when..” And I was like, “I'm sorry, what?” You know, because it was all this thing. But I was also just like, “Wait a minute!” Especially as I've been watching it, because I didn't know how they were building it and unlike, you know, a red shirt, for that moment, as much as I hate it, because I love this character and I've grown to love her even more, is you need, it has to be, it has to be one of us. It has to be me, Jin or Joseph. It's got to be one of us.
DE: And at the same time, it's also a dramatic turn. Oh, it's going to be terrible. And then what? Over here. Distraction!
SC: Yeah, exactly. What? It has to be something. It's good storytelling. It's good directing, too. Yeah, as a writer, I was like, you know, you're upset and you're depressed because again, if there a spin off or such, you want to be part of it. And from the onset I was like, how are we not going to just like, spin this well? And then you're like, “I'm dead.”
DE: Well, maybe T’veen has a twin sister back on Vulcan, you never know.
SC: T’Veen threw her Katra in [Ensign Kova Rin] Esmar before she left!
DE: I didn’t even think about her Katra!
SC: There's so many interesting things that could happen. But I'm also just like: You need that moment. That moment has to happen. And it's kind of Game of Thrones-y, man. No one is safe. And it gives validity to Vadic, if you're going to be killed, be killed by Amanda Plummer. But as much as I was like, “Ugh!” it's so good for the overall arc of the story that I can't be upset about it. I can be sad, because of course I want to, you know, explore. I want to write fan fiction, T’Veen memoirs or some shit like that. You have to, if you are in this business.
It is my belief that strong narrative, strong story. Is the thing that keeps us going. And I also kind of think that has so been about family and losing someone who you care about, which is what happens in life, right? You know, I lost my dad really suddenly. We've been so good this season, and Terry has been so good, at really making these characters who usually have had no conflict and give them some conflict and make them even more human than we've seen them before.
DE: And Terry has been given a lot of credit. The whole crew! I'm not going to criticize another show, but some shows don't feature the supporting cast as well as how Picard has. I really think we got to meet each of these characters. You got to say “Fascinating,” at one point! More than anything, I think that the fans, when they find out, they're going to be sad. They really are. You have made an impact on people.
SC: As I was going, I didn't realize people would love me, like love T’Veen this much. And it's been such an honor and such an interesting experience to be in this thing that, you know, other people have been like, “Oh my God,” you know? People are coming out of the woodwork from like 30 years ago and being like, “You're on this show! This amazing thing! Congratulations on your success!” And it's interesting as an actor because I'm like, well, I'm a supporting part of this. I'm not doing super heavy lifting. But it's so effective, as I forget how the editing is, and how we all are performing. I'm watching Joseph react. I'm like, “Oh my God, he's so good and not saying anything.” You know how much a part we all were. And as I'm watching the response to being, I keep thinking like, “Shit!” All I've been thinking this week is like, “Oh, shit. What's next? Like, what's it going to be like next?”
DE: The next 24 hours are going to be a real ride, I'll tell you. I have to ask, do you think T’Veen could be a queer character? I mean, is it possible that Vulcans are queer too?
SC: Well, I think so, I think because T’Veen, we've endowed her with being a quarter Deltan, which I absolutely love, just as an actor in terms of playing, you know, opposition internally and whatnot, is, I think, absolutely. I think T’Veen, first and foremost is, very logical about what her job is. And apart from everything else, I think this job on this ship and these people are the most important thing to her. And then everything falls away from that. But I think absolutely. I don't think there's a specific thing that turns out to be going on. I keep joking her Pon Farr was off the chain! And you throw some Deltan in there and what is happening?
DE: That came from a conversation between you and Terry, her evolution from just bald Vulcan, which we saw In Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. There were bald Vulcans.
SC: Yeah. And it was it was a little comment. It was a conversation about that. But it was it was something that I had been thinking about. And I was like, “Look, when we when this comes out, people are going to ask questions and know, it's this such a striking, dare I say iconic, it's such a striking look. And we looked, there have been bald Vulcans and they've been older and I'm like, “Well, what if, what if, this thing?” And he was like, “Oh, yeah, I can be down with that. Let's make her a quarter. Let's make her grandmother a Deltan.
DE: You had that much input. I love that.
SC: I mean the amount of input, again, when you say other shows don't show off, you know, their bridge crew the amount of, from the onset, because when I got my audition materials, it was a different name. I don't remember what, besides “Science Officer,” but it was not decided what species I was. I made a choice that I was, that it seemed to me very Spock, Vulcany, so I was like, “That’s what I’m gonna do!” And the next thing I know, that is how it was, we all were like, “Yes!” But, to be that involved in a character that, again, on other shows, with a different showrunner, could just be like, “Maybe, yeah, whatever. Whatever!” It's fully different, a fully different and fulfilling experience.
DE: That's wonderful. You mentioned very early that Jin is another LGBT member of the cast?
DE: Is it an LGBT friendly scene? I imagine having spoken to Frakes and LeVar Burton and Patrick Stewart, Oh, by the way, Patrick Stewart calls me “Dawwwwwwn.”
DE: He lets me call him “Pat,” and he says, “I shall call you Dawwwwn.” Would you say it's a very LGBT friendly environment, the whole Star Trek experience?
SC: Oh, 100%. 100%. Yeah, there is, especially, you know, behind the scenes, everyone, Goddamn, it's such an open and loving set. I mean, it's hard work, don't get me wrong. It is hard work.
DE: But you've also come from the theater. So, tell me, what was your first theater experience? Because I imagine that's where your first love is, on the stage.
SC: It is. It is. Although, I mean, you know, there's nothing like having something, you know, encompassed forever, right? First experience, as you know, community theater. But my first professional job was actually on the Jersey Shore, and it was a play called Gráinne, the Irish Pirate Queen. I played a historical character named Grace O'Malley, who lived the same lifespan as Queen Elizabeth the first. And actually Elizabeth put her in jail. She was a pirate. She was an Irish chieftain at a time when you were like, “No, dude!” I mean, she was this really strong woman and Irish people totally know her history. Like when we did this musical, you know, Summerstage, we added performances because there was a really large Irish contingent.
DE: I believe it. I'm Irish-American.
SC: So there was Gráinne. And then actually the guys who did Les Miz did another thing about her called The Pirate Queen, but it didn't go as well.
DE: What are you working on?
SC: I am in the second part of Doom Patrol. I think our last six episodes come out in May, maybe. I don't know. I haven't been given a date, but I'm in the second half of that, and I feel like, no spoilers, but I'm really honored to be a part of that, how the whole thing wraps it up. I think it does the fans well.
DE: So, despite the fact that you “left the set,’ is there anything you can tell us about what's coming in the next two episodes? We have two more episodes left in Picard. No spoilers, but can you give us a hint?
SC: I don't fully know, actually, because what I can say is, I feel like especially as we shifted into seven and eight, that anyone who thinks they know what's going to happen is just, you know, you’ve got to avoid spoilers and just get ready for the ride. Just get ready for the ride because it's, there are things that I found out about that, I was like, “What!?!”
DE: I saved the best for last. You got to give me what it's like working with legends like Patrick Stewart and Amanda Plummer. I mean, all the actors, LeVar Burton, Brent Spiner, they're all incredible actors. But these are legends.
SC: Patrick Stewart is such a good storyteller, even in holding. There is nothing like just keeping your mouth shut and just like listening to his gorgeous voice and then just telling stories about, you know, Mick Jagger and just his life. He was in the process of writing his memoir and he is such a statesman and he is such, I mean, he's had such a full, full life. And when he's talking about it, you're just riveted.
DE: I could listen to him read the phone book.
SC: Yeah, exactly. I saw him in The Tempest in the Park, and I was like “WOW.” Because of his voice. And Amanda Plummer, my God, what an artist. When I watched her, I've never seen, I don't think I've ever experienced someone who was so uninhibited about really exploring in the moment what your character is like, and it translates so well, just consistently playing with it. It was so inspiring as an artist to be like, “Oh, that's right. You can keep playing with it because they'll catch it if they want to. If you want to go back, you can.” But her energy is just so, you feel like, there are different energies, but they are legends for a reason. Like with her, you're just like, “I want to explore the negative space of a pinkie. Like, find out what that means.” Like, there's such a level of artistry that transcends that as even as small as she is, that this energy just envelops you.
DE: My daughter is 16 and has acted a few times in in high school productions. She attended a dramatic school for arts and acting and wants to be an actor. And I also told her, don't forget to learn how to wait tables.
SC: But yeah, of course.
DE: As a former child actor myself — commercials and stuff for about 12 years — I have been trying to give her advice, but rather than me give her advice because she won't listen to me, I'm her parent, I would love it if you had advice for someone who's a teenager looking to break into acting or pursue the dramatic arts, the theater. What would you say?
SC: The one thing I wish that my parents would have done is I knew early on that that's what I wanted to. And I was not in a position, nor did my parents know how to get me involved in it. They just didn't know. And part of me is like, if you're 16 and you want to do it, try it! Like you're at a place, like in the summer, get an agent. Go! You're at an age where they’re a lot more forgiving because you're green. And also you get a chance to figure out if you really want to do it, because a lot of people think they want to do it until they have to do it. And part of me is like, there's nothing stopping you, especially at this age, from giving it a whirl. So go give it a whirl. I get in an acting class and give it a whirl, man.
DE: That's awesome.
SC: Provided that you as her mother will allow it.
DE: Yeah, she calls me her dad. My kids call me dad, but I do the job of mom. I will tell you that as someone who also lost their parents, who my parents didn't get to see me be who I am. I want you to know that somewhere in the universe, they must be extremely proud of you. And I'm so grateful that you took the time today to give us a peek into your life.
SC: Thank you.
DE: I'm just sorry we won't see you in this character. So let's hope that maybe Terry or Michelle Paradise or Akiva Goldsman or somebody from Star Trek says, “You know, she was good in that Picard thing. We ought to have another character like we did with Todd Stashwick. Give her another shot.”
SC: Yeah. You know, if not, I'm going to ride T’Veen to as many conventions as I can1
DE: We'll see you there. Live long and prosper. Thank you so much for taking the time. Happy First Contact Day!
SC: Happy First Contact Day to you, too!
HOW TO VIEW THE ENTIRE SEASON OF STAR TREK PICARD AND PAST STAR TREK EPISODES: Click here to subscribe to Paramount+
That’s all for today. I’m also working on transcribing interviews I conducted at the GLAAD Media Awards with actors Wilson Cruz and Blu del Barrio from Star Trek Discovery and that series’ showrunner Michelle Paradise about their upcoming fifth and final season!
I will return Sunday night with the Bedtime Stories edition. Until then… May your news be good news!
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