Many fans and critics of science fiction television agree that Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery was a breakout. Instead of squeezing Michael and Saru in between Star Trek: Enterprise and The Original Series, the story took them 930 years into the future, where the crew could experience some truly strange new worlds.
Toward the end of the season, fans met a new member of the bridge crew, Lieutenant Ina. This character popped into the scenes’ background but played a critical part in the final episodes. Many thought this new character was played by a new actress, but that was not the case. You’ve seen Avaah Blackwell many times on Discovery, but you know her better as the alien Osnullus.
It’s not difficult for Blackwell to get into many different roles, even on the same show. Blackwell is a well-rounded performer who works as a model and does her own stunts too. Due to these skills and her flexibility, she was able to join Discovery in the role of Osnullus to begin with.
“My agent called and asked if I could get down to the studio right away, I happened to be free, so I went down,” remembers Blackwell. She got the opportunity when a different actress was unable to fill the part. “I showed up and was able to fit into the costume and prosthetics. They did a camera test — and the rest, as they say, is history!”
Blackwell says that she had worked in prosthetics before, on the Syfy network show 12 Monkeys and in a few other productions. But now she’s found that she can land more roles.
“Since Osnullus, I have been working a lot more in prosthetics, which I’m very grateful for,” says Blackwell.
That happened on Discovery, as Blackwell portrayed another being from Osnullus species, Captain Ramha, in the episode “Scavengers.” Though she knew that she’d also be Lt. Ina later in the season, there might have been a little part of Blackwell that was nervous… thinking that she was typecast as an Osnullus alien on Star Trek shows.
“If so, I am OK with it,” laughs Blackwell. “However, they have also been casting me in other roles — Lt. Ina and a few other day player aliens seen in Season 3 — which I am incredibly grateful for and excited about.”
Though getting to be Osnullus or Rahma is a great challenge, Blackwell says that she loved portraying Lt. Ina. While Blackwell took on a human crewmember role, she was not alone in shedding the prosthetics.
“In that episode, we also got to see Doug Jones as his handsome human self, and in the next two episodes, we also saw Kenneth Mitchell as Aurellio,” says Blackwell. “He was a human scientist without his usually Klingon makeup!”
Blackwell says that she was thrilled to play Ina, and not just because she didn’t have to endure the hours of makeup onset before the cameras started rolling.
“It was great!” says Blackwell “I love playing Ina. She’s such an incredible character.”
If Blackwell liked playing Ina, and fans took to this new character so quickly — as they did — the next logical question is simple. Will we see Ina on Discovery again, which is currently in production in Canada?
On that subject, Ms. Blackwell would only say this: “Stay tuned!”
“I’d love to talk about it candidly,” says Blackwell when asked about Ina’s backstory. “I will let the producers, directors, and writers elaborate on all of that when they are ready to do so.”
While Blackwell is understandably secretive if we’ll see Lt. Ina again, she’s happy to share that her schedule is pretty full for 2021.
“Currently you can see me on this season of CBC’s Frankie Drake, as Frankie’s stunt double,” says Blackwell. “I will also have a video game coming out sometime this year, and I am working on several more science fiction and action projects that I can’t quite talk about yet.”
Avaah Blackwell says that she feels lucky to do what she loves — acting, stunts, and modeling. While some might think juggling these different types of jobs with those skills might be difficult, Blackwell says she feels it’s all worthwhile.
“There have been some grueling days outside in the cold January climate of Northern Canada for the EFC movie,” says Blackwell. “Long days in challenging prosthetics for almost every role, having to face my fear of heights and very challenging fights in stunts. But all of them allow me to grow as an artist and as an individual. It is all totally worth it.”