“Queer as Folk” and “Big Sky” star Jesse James Keitel is boarding “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” for a guest star role as a nonbinary character.
Keitel, who is a trans woman, will appear on the June 16 episode of the show’s first season, currently streaming on Paramount+. Keitel will play Dr. Aspen, who once worked as a Starfleet counselor, but whose experiences on the Federation border prompted them to shift careers and work as a humanitarian aid worker. During the episode, which was directed by trans filmmaker Sydney Freeland (“Reservation Dogs”), Dr. Aspen will develop a surprising connection with Spock (Ethan Peck).
Casting Keitel as Dr. Aspen continues recent efforts to expand LGBTQ representation on “Star Trek.” When “Star Trek: Discovery” launched in 2017, the series included the franchise’s first same-sex couple in Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz). In 2020, “Discovery” introduced Blu Del Barrio as Adira and Ian Alexander as Grey, the first explicitly nonbinary and transgender characters, respectively, in “Trek” history. On “Star Trek: Picard,” Raffi Musiker (Michelle Hurd) and Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan) are in a relationship, and on the most recent episode of “Strange New Worlds,” Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) references dating men and women.
Keitel also made history on ABC’s “Big Sky” as the first openly trans series regular on a primetime network TV series. She is starring on Peacock’s revival of “Queer as Folk,” which debuts on June 9, and she’s appeared on Netflix’s “Alex Strangelove” and TV Land’s “Younger” in 2018.
Keitel is represented by Authentic Management and Insurge Entertainment and The Initiative Group.