Whoopi Goldberg, our beloved Guinan from Star Trek: The Next Generation, made her first ever convention appearance at Star Trek Las Vegas to a packed house. She talked about how she got herself onto the show, her hats, the character of Guinan, Star Trek writers, and more.
The first time Whoopi Goldberg met Gene Roddenberry, a meeting arranged via mutual friend LeVar Burton, the Great Bird was skeptical.
“Can I ask you a very upfront question?” Roddenberry asked, according to Goldberg. “Can I ask you why you want to be on Star Trek?”
Recounting her joy as a young woman of seeing a black woman on the bridge of the Enterprise, she responded, “Don’t you know? You don’t know that we didn’t exist anywhere in science fiction before you put Lt. Uhura on there?”
Two weeks later, Roddenberry called and said “Whoopi, you actually are right.”
“Yes, sir. I know. Can I be on the show now?”
This was just one of the gems that Goldberg shared with a packed auditorium at this, her first ever convention appearance.
“When I was a kid I loved sci-fi, I loved horror movies, I loved all these things,” she elaborated. “There were lots of folks on television, you could see black folks on television, but you never saw them in the future. And until Gene Roddenberry put a beautiful black woman, who was the communications officer – she wasn’t cleaning houses.
To see her in the future in charge of communications and being as hot as a woman could be to the point where even the aliens wanted her. You’d see Spock looking at her and you knew what he was thinking,” she said to great laughter. More seriously she added, “She was integral to their being able to survive wherever they were going.”
At one point, Goldberg called for three women who were cosplaying as Guinan to come up on stage. She hugged them and chatted with them for the rest of her appearance. She took pictures with them because people “at work” (presumably The View) swore that no one would come dressed as her, and Goldberg wanted to prove them wrong.
Regarding Star Trek Discovery, Goldberg said that her character – who could appear any time, any place – would be a great addition. Host Scott Mantz immediately interjected “#BringBackGuinan.”
“But not a new Guinan,” she quipped. “Because you know they will go and find a 5-year-old Guinan.”
On Ghost: She told how every black woman in Hollywood was auditioned for Ghost – except her, because producers felt her starpower would be too distracting. Eventually she worked her way into the auditioning process and recounted that Patrick Swayze wouldn’t sign on to star in the film without her.
On Yesterday’s Enterprise: About her amazing contribution as Guinan to the episode that brought back Tasha Yar, Goldberg said, “You can’t kill that woman. Every time you kill that woman she shows up somewhere else.”
On Q: “My people live in the realities of what needs to be done. He wants to mess with people. They probably dated a few millennia ago. They may have a baby. I’m not saying.”
On her hats: She loved her hats, and shared that they were supposed to look like the saucer section of the Enterprise. “They called me ‘Shuttle-head.’”
On the writers: She said TNG head writer Michael Pillar was “amazing, gracious, smart” and very easy to work with. One fan asked if she was allowed to rewrite any of her own lines: “I tried to do them like they were written. But if you want them to come from me? So be it.”
On Brent Spiner: She liked to mess with Spiner in between takes, so during one long speech she had to give, the actor pinched her. She never messed with him again.
On Picard: The hidden secret as to Picard and Guinan’s closeness, Goldberg had crafted for herself, was that at some point in the past, she gave birth to one of Picard’s ancestors. So he was her however-many-greats grandson.
On Nichelle Nichols: “She’s just a great human being and they’re really rare. So when you find them, you want to hold onto them.” The two visited behind stage before hand and sent out a picture on social media.
On what Star Trek means to her: “The thing that Star Trek never let go of was hope,” she said earnestly, to warm applause. Then quickly – ever the comedian – she added, “Bring Back Guinan.”