While Picard and Next Generation got most of the attention at Sunday’s Saturn Awards, Star Trek: Lower Decks was also nominated for an award. Tawny Newsome was there on behalf of the show and TrekMovie had a chance to talk to her about what’s next for the animated comedy and her character, Beckett Mariner. We also discussed her current work as a writer on the upcoming Starfleet Academy series.
When we last talked to you in November you had just started recording again for season 5, so are you still recording?
What am I doing? I think I’m done with season 5. I had to mentally be like, “Did I do episode 10?” I did. There’s going to be ADR and stuff we have to redo once it’s animated, but the bulk of the recording is in the can.
I know this is more for [showrunner] Mike [McMahan], but how are the chances of it still arriving this year, because the strike slowed it down a bit?
I don’t know anything officially, but judging by my math, I think we stuck to our production schedule kind of well. Because we were really ahead before the strike. And when we stopped, it was interesting because, technically, we were still allowed to record but as a cast being part of a larger franchise of shows that were not permitted to work, it didn’t feel right. And so [Boimler actor] Jack [Quaid] and I and all the other actors, we were torn between not wanting to put pressure on our animators and delay their production timeline, but also really wanting to honor the spirit of the strike even though we’re technically allowed to work. So we did not work during the strike. And I think it still is going to work out and I’m really sorry to our lovely artists who work on it if we did put pressure on them. I’m sorry.
So for season 5, would you say it is more of the same good thing, or something different?
Yeah, it’s both. It’s more of the same in a good way, but not more of the same in the thing that I think a lot of people were ready for Marriner to put behind her. Which is some of that self-sabotaging energy that she has grown from and put behind her. She has had to embrace the promotion and figure out a way to be chaotic, but with a little more responsibility and growth.
Let’s switch shows, are you still at work writing Starfleet Academy?
I am indeed. I am very writing for Academy. My brain is smoking right now writing for Academy. We’re in the throes of it, yeah.
That was originally planned to shoot early this year. Is that still possible after the strikes?
I don’t understand how that works. I know when my episode was due. I pay attention to my deadlines. I don’t know anything about production timelines. That all is new to me.
The last time we talked you said Trek fans will love the show and that there are “canon cops” in the writers room. I know Easter eggs and references is the Lower Decks thing, but is it that kind of thing or more thematically how it fits well with Star Trek?
The thing is, it’s not like an Easter egg reference show. That’s a very Lower Decks-type flavor. I don’t think that’s anyone’s goal in the room. There might still be some just because a lot of us are fans of Trek, and so they might work their way in when it’s appropriate to the story. But in general, our showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Noga Landau are very focused on telling stories that really advance this crew of characters that you’re going to grow to love. They’re young people. That’s an age we haven’t seen focused on in a Trek cast before. So yeah, I really think it’s just about telling stories that feel very real to that age group, but also to people who are starting their career in Starfleet.
I think you said before the characters are high school or early college…
I think canonically—and this isn’t me telling tales out of school—speaking from the entire canon of Star Trek, I believe that the age you can be in the Academy is somewhere around 18. So I think it more resembles college age, but don’t put that in a headline, like “Tawny Newsome Says This Is A College Show” and I’ll get in trouble.
But there are also major older adult characters, right?
I mean, it’s an Academy. So there are teachers, there are students—I am being so careful, but you know there are teachers, right?
It is still Star Trek, so there are still spaceships too, I assume, at least simulated?
Um, I mean, sure. Who knows? [laughs]
You are very good at this…
You know why I’m good at it? It is because I say something innocuous and then you all make it a headline and then I’m like, “Well, that’s not what I was talking about.”
Okay, what headline do you want us to say about Academy? What should the fans know?
I love this. Okay. The headline that I want you to say about Academy is we have a room full of writers who love Star Trek and are trying to tell a Star Trek story in a new way and we’re really excited to do that.
More to come from the Saturn Awards
TrekMovie spoke to more Star Trek presenters, nominees, and winners at the Saturn Awards, including some non-Trek (yet) celebrities, so come back for more interviews and updates.
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