Interview: Blu Del Barrio On Adira Getting Out Of The Lab In ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 5

Blu del Barrio / Adira - Star Trek: Discovery - SXSW(Getty/Paramount+)

When the USS Discovery jumped into the 32nd century for the third season, the ship added a new crew member from that era’s Earth: Adira, played by Blu del Barrio. At SXSW, TrekMovie spoke to Blu about what’s new for Adira in season 5 and if we might be seeing them again after Discovery ends.

So much of Adira’s story has been defined by their relationship with Gray. Do you see season 5 as a chance to define who Adira is on their own and their role on the ship?

I think so. Definitely, season 5 is the first time that we can see Adira have a little bit more agency in their own life and what they want to do and their position on the ship. I think they do sort of get a little bit more introspective and start asking themselves, what do they want? Why do they want it? What makes them feel good and what doesn’t? Because they are someone who’s fairly anxious a lot of the time and is a perfectionist and a very type A. So, yeah, I think that’s very, very correct to say. [laughs]

Can you give some insight into Adira’s new place on the ship in season 5?

I can say that there’s multiple… They stayed very much in the lab for season 3 and season 4, but they get to do a lot more in season 5. They get a lot more responsibility on the ship and as a crew member. So they get to do a lot of new stuff.

Blu del Barrio as Adira in Star Trek: Discovery season 5 (Paramount+)

Are we going to learn more about Adira’s backstory, coming from Earth in the 32nd century?

I don’t want to spoil anything. I don’t think I can spoil anything.

You mentioned the time in the lab, so are we still seeing Adira with Reno? Can you give us any anecdotes about working with Tig Notaro?

I love Tig with every fiber of my being. I want to be like Tig. I want Tig to be my parent. I think that Tig is the greatest person on earth. And I also hope that she loves me back. [laughs]

You mentioned a parent. What about your space dads? Anything new with that relationship in season 5?

Yeah, I think that really continues to grow quite beautifully in season 5. Like I said earlier, Adira has more agency in season 5 and they are a lot more confident in themselves and confident in that they are really wanted on this ship. And they are really wanted by these two men who have taken Adira in and love them and have become these father figures. And I think they’re starting to believe that they are supposed to be here and this is where they’re meant to be.

Embed from Getty Images

Are you hoping to cross over into the Starfleet Academy show?

Oh, my God. Of course!

Do you know anything about it?

No, I know, literally, truly, actually, hand-to-heart nothing. But, of course. I mean, this has been the most insane journey and I obviously want it to continue for them in any way possible. Even if it’s here and there. I love Adira so much and I feel very attached to them. And if they can have a life anywhere else, I hope that they do, yeah.

Mary Wiseman as Tilly and Blu del Barrio as Adira in Discovery season 4 (Paramount+)

More to come from SXSW

TrekMovie has more interviews and coverage from the SXSW 2024 premiere and panel discussion, so check back later for more exclusives. Read our previous interviews:

The fifth and final season of Discovery debuts with two episodes on Thursday, April 4 exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Latin America, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, and Austria. Discovery will also premiere on April 4 on Paramount+ in Canada and is also expected to be broadcast on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada. The rest of the 10-episode final season will be available to stream weekly on Thursdays. Season 5 debuts on SkyShowtime in select European countries on April 5.

Keep up with news about the Star Trek Universe at

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’d just be happy with Adira actually becoming a character. Since Adira’s arrival, that character has largely been a background player without any defining qualities other than being in a relationship with an even less well-defined ghost-golem.

A counterpoint: Adira was critical in Discovery reaching Federation headquarters, helped to rescue the away team on the Kelpian ship at the end of Season 3, and did begin a career in Starfleet in Season 4 and tried to live up to expectations. Not to mention they came out as non-binary in a very touching scene that was expertly downplayed so as not to be a big “moment”. I wouldn’t say that they have no defining qualities or they were a background player at all. Quite the opposite really.

Adira was critical in Discovery reaching Federation headquarters, helped to rescue the away team on the Kelpian ship at the end of Season 3, and did begin a career in Starfleet in Season 4 and tried to live up to expectations. Not to mention they came out as non-binary in a very touching scene that was expertly downplayed so as not to be a big “moment”.”

In this aspect, she pulled it off; then she got more and more of a background player like the rest of the crew.

That’s largely just rationalization, though. Discovery’s writers, per usual, have created scenarios for Adira, yes, but no real development. There’s a lot of surface-level writing on Discovery that is passed off as character development, but it’s largely one-dimensional. Skilled writers could have done more with Adira. Alas, skilled writers are working on the other Star Trek shows instead of Discovery, so Adira has floundered as a forgettable and non-impactful addition to the show.

I’m going to have respectfully disagree with your interpretation here. The character- as others have also stated- has been instrumental in the resolution of storylines and has gone on a real journey across two seasons. We’ve been on their gender journey with them and in Season 4 they overcame their nerves to excel as a junior officer in Starfleet. If that’s not character development, I don’t know what is.

We’ve been on their gender journey with them”

For better or for worse (and I have thoughts about which, but that’s another discussion for another time,) I don’t think you’re going to get a lot of support around here for the idea that this is character development.

Well said — her character development has been solid given that she’s not one of the stars of the show, and I think you will get a lot of support for that opinion here.

Lorna can’t stand Raffi either. Might the reasons be similar?

You think an on-screen conversation about pronouns is downplaying it?

Quite frankly, yes. It wasn’t a huge moment, Adira corrected Stamets, explained how they viewed their gender and that was it. Pronouns- and discussions around them- should never be a big thing and here it wasn’t. They discussed how Adira wants to be referred to and moved on. It was thoughtful and respectful. It wasn’t the crux of the episode, it wasn’t a huge plot point, it wasn’t sensationalised… they had a chat and got on with it.

In-universe sure. Externally, from a show pov? The conversation about pronouns was so jarring and, like many many things re: Discovery casting, done for headlines/kudos.

I still think the pronouns discussion would have had real power if they made it even more offhanded. It felt like what a show *set* in 2020 would do. Well-meaning and exactly the right sentiment, but it didn’t quite feel true to the futuristic setting or characters IMO. I keep thinking the right response by Adira should have been a simple correction any 32nd century person wouldn’t have any hesitation about giving as a matter of fact. Stamets’ reaction was on point, but the way the convo went didn’t seem like it was cut from the same cloth as say, Roddenberry noting that in the future people won’t care about going bald.

Agreed. I think the actor has pulled it off so far – but they certainly haven’t had much to work with.

That’s kind of a problem with Discovery overall — I don’t buy many of these characters as actual characters.

The development of Adira is such that I honestly think I would need the writers and/or del Barrio to spell it out for me. They start as being cocky and sure of themselves, then eventually turn into a bundle of anxiety and lack a lot of basic confidence by the end of season 4, and do things like exhibit (out of no where) blubbering hero worship for Detmer.

I don’t really know if that’s to be chalked up to their gaining Tal’s memories (Ezri was scatter-brained as a result of her joining) or getting more comfortable in their skin to take down a front they’ve presented, or it’s just inconsistent character work that goes along with the undercooked relationship with Stamets and Culber, but I genuinely do not follow the thread with what they’ve been doing with Adira. I like del Barrio’s screen presence, I just don’t get the character.

Huh? She has saved the ship, got them to federation headquarters, led a successful rescue of an away team, an illustrated the challenges to the viewer of starting a career in starfleet. So I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about?

None of that is characterization.


You are embarrassing yourself by not knowing a character on a Star Trek series that you are trying to comment on in an article here

You mean “Ricky asks ‘Who?’ Discuss!”

….says the person who speaks of themself in the third person.

Very much hope to see Blue del Barrio as Adira in any future Star Trek series.

And as Blue’s surviving grandchild in Old School – The Next Generation.

Blu del Barrio.

I scratch my head, wondering why the writers always show Adira behaving confused.

Missed opportunities. Sad they added her to be part of Discovery and her character was not fully developed. Reminds me the same issues with Rhys, Bryce, Owosekun, and Detmer, wasting their full potential.

If Adira has Gray’s previous memories, why does she always seem lost, searching for mentorship? She has the wisdom of several hosts. I guess this is what they want to portray, but the lack of Adira in each season doesn’t show the wow factor that she displayed in her first episode.

I admit I may be comparing her with Jadzia. Her wow factor was not only Terry’s beauty, but her humor and wit as an old wise man.

You hit on it — you’re confusing her with Jadzia. She’s younger and less developed than Jadzia, and that’s perfectly fine.

This is why I think the writers should have kept her cool from the very first episode. Stamets was surprised by her genius mind figuring out many things about the ship. Wished they continued showing that side as well.

Why on Earth would ANY character be at the end of their arc from their first appearance. That makes absolutely no sense, especially since they’re younger than Ezri, and were put in a similar situation, of an emergency joining.

Talking about her brilliant skills, to use the character strengths more effectively.

You have to admit it’s odd for a character to get *less* confident as they develop. The arc they’ve had is haphazard and really difficult for me to plot. You rewatch the show, so maybe you have a clearer insight into their progression. It doesn’t strike me as just them coming out of their shell or even having teenaged insecurities as much as just being inconsistent and assuming the audience goes along with it without all the backup we’d normally expect. Considering that was done for Stamets paternal feelings for Adira and Gray, much of the Discovery crew’s homesickness, and Georgiou’s and Michael’s redemption arcs, it’s hard for me to accept it’s all perfectly plotted out.

I thought Jadzia to be one of DS9’s standouts, Terry Farrell played her wonderfully. Wise, funny and beautiful.

Exactly. DS9 was just amazing on so many levels.

I am also sick and tired of this notion that Adira’s “parents” are right there on the ship. They is supposed to be a fully-commissioned Starfleet (or at least Earth) officer, not some helpless kid.

As they say in the useless characters pantheon, thank God for Kes.

LOL. This show get the best of all of us.

You could argue Picard practically adopted Wesley as a surrogate son and it was reciprocated. It was just a case of being a father figure so it was never ladled on too thickly, but I believe in that far more than Stamets and Culber being adoptive parents to Adira and Gray. They just haven’t dug into that relationship enough to get me invested, and that’s frustrating because in season 4 especially the cast was tiny and the DMA storyline was teased out sparingly mid-season. There was room to develop these character relationships.

As for Kes, I’ll defend her to the last! She was the most essential character to the development of the EMH in seasons 1 and 2. She frequently ended up being a better sounding board for other characters than they ever were for her.

Yeah, you bring up a good point. Adira is joined to a symbiote, so what’s going on there?

IMO, Adira is a wasted character that I don’t care for at all.

Adira would have been better served as a character who is dealing with invisible past lives instead of ones that we, the audience, actually see. Adira on her own with a Trill inside would have presented a person with more agency of their own, making decisions only they could judge.

Even as someone who understood Trills a little bit, seeing Gray Tal was a new way of handling a Trill’s reality, and for me, it made Adira confusing and lacking an adult, tactical POV of their experiences.

You’re confusing what you want for Adira as a person and what would make for a compelling character arc in a visual medium. What you’re talking about would be more appropriate for a novel, not a TV series. Remember, they were even younger than Ezri when joined, and a human, not expecting ever to join. There’s no way ANYONE would be fully-adjusted to their past lives right away, particularly if they’re an awkward teen, coming into their own.

I’m sorry, but Gray Tal seemed more like an ‘invisible friend’ than a whole other person also dealing with living inside Adira. The intention was admirable, but the execution was cheesy. And I like the actor, and even the performance. What I am saying is nope, this is not a good way to depict this relationship, visual or not.

Meh. They were fine? Thought the episode where they were introduced was pretty good, then mostly forgot about the show. Helpful!

Does anyone remember Ash Tyler? Anyone? He had one thing to do in the first season – be the traitor – and that’s it. They kept him for another season and he was just dead weight. This character is literally Ash Tyler 2.0. I have no idea why the writers struggle so much to give relevance beyond plot points to any side character (count the entire exposition dump / reaction shot bridge crew in as well).

With the woeful writing that has plagued Discovery, pretty much everyone on the cast is nothing but a side character, including the ‘regulars’.

Just the 13 “theys” in the opening 2 answers. In all seriousness, the adoption thing from Stamets and Culber was so weird. So random and out of the blue, so nonsensical and contrived.

I didn’t count. That’s how we are asked to respectfully address their gender identity. It doesn’t affect me beyond having to think a little more before I write or say pronouns, but it makes trans people feel seen and respected, so it’s just a kind and decent thing to do and get used to.

In terms of being a groundbreaking character for representation, Adira will always have a place in history. They were featured in a popular prestige drama as not only a non-binary character but as part of a romance with another trans actor. That’s huge, and I’m very happy that del Barrio and Ian Alexander have pride in their achievements.

Separate from that, both characters do frustrate the heck out of me, their onscreen chemistry doesn’t reflect their camaraderie behind the scenes, and the found family with Stamets and Culber is lovely as an idea but largely fumbled onscreen, like a lot of things in Discovery. It’s important that I parse that, because too often people aren’t separating the good intentions from the quality of the execution. The actors probably are bearing a lot of the brunt of that and it’s not always fair, but I do like seeing how proud they are of what they’ve been a part of.

What a well articulated and charitable response.

“Just the 13 ‘they’s’ in the opening two answers.”

So? What’s your problem sir?

Soon this nightmare will be over!