Shooting for the stars with Subrina Wood of the ‘SyFy Sistas’ podcast

Uhura and the Sistas
Uhura and the Sistas

There are so many great podcasts to listen to if you’re a fan of Star Trek. We’ve been lucky enough to go behind the scenes with Alison of “Daily Star Trek Report” show and meet up with Mike and Jamie from “The Divine Treasury” podcast. Now meet Subrina Wood, who along with the show’s cast are bringing a new point of view to Star Trek shows with the “SyFy Sistas.”

Subrina will tell you that she and her team feel that “this is a new golden age in Black science fiction and fantasy,” and they want to both share their opinions and gush about their favorites. In real life, Subrina is a Certified Public Accountant who works and lives in the Washington, D.C. Metro area. Her schedule is this — morning with the SyFy Sistas, work in the afternoon, and the evenings are dedicated to her other podcast.

We caught up with the super-busy Subrina to ask her about her show and how she and the team (Yvette, Tamia, Fran, and JD) put it all together.

The SyFy Sistas: Subrina, J.D., FranT, Yvette, and Tamia.
The SyFy Sistas: Subrina, J.D., FranT, Yvette, and Tamia.

TREK REPORT: How did you get started podcasting?

SUBRINA WOOD: I started podcasting several years ago about movies. I want to be like Robert Osborne on TCM and still do. I took a course online at the Dave Johnson School of Podcasting and launched “Five by Five: A Movie Podcast,” which I still host and produce. 

But when I met my co-host Fran in a Facebook group and then we both met Tamia at Awesome Con in D.C., we three started talking about launching a safe space for Black women to talk about Star Trek: Discovery and Michael Burnham. The page caught on fire. J.D. (who we also met at that same Awesome Con) and Yvette were super supportive women who came to our panels and salons. So, we brought them into the group. In December 2020, we launched the podcast. We celebrated the Second Anniversary of the “SyFy Sistas” just last month.

TREK REPORT: Tell us about how your process works. If there are five voices, especially during COVID, it must get complicated.

SUBRINA WOOD: We have a Zoom meeting every two weeks where we discuss show topics and misc business (we have a store, affiliate sponsor, and our Trek Geeks network stuff), our business communications are augmented by Slack, and we chat on messenger.

Once we agree on a topic some or all of us decide to do that show. What is really hard is to toss out great show ideas that just don’t align with our mission, which is to highlight the contributions of Black female creatives in science fiction and fantasy, from actors, directors, showrunners, and writers. We point out issues that resonate with Black women and how we might see something differently than the average demographic of Trekkie and we explain why.

The second part of our mission to expose people to the contribution of Black people in ALL science fiction and fantasy.  So, we never do recap episodes. We are telling you why something moved us as Black women and we hope telling our experiences helps others better understand us, these stories and their creators. But we are not afraid to point out how this franchise that prides itself on pushing the social envelope hits or misses the target.

We research our topic (usually myself) for salient points, and episode references. Memory Alpha and IMDB are key sources for names and titles, but we have a library of books about Trek, and other sci-fi. 

Next,  one of us (usually Tamia) types up the show notes and loose script which are mostly talking points after our intro and ads. We drop any brilliant insights in our podcast channel in Slack in between the meeting and the taping. Then we get on our biweekly scheduled Zoom call and roll tape! 

SyFy Sista host Yvette at the Janeway birthplace statue in Bloomington, Indiana.

It’s been a process. We’ve lost whole shows for technical glitches — bad audio or internet connections, forgetting to turn on the recording, Zoom bombers. But, we just learned the lesson and rerecord. It is true that the only way to learn how to podcast is to just do it. Just keep making episodes. 

We study our podcast tapes and critique ourselves. We listen to a lot of other podcasts to see what we like and what we don’t like. We work on speaking more precisely and clearly, to stop cross-talking and interrupting — mostly me. And we have learned that our sound engineer, DoS, the Anonymous One, is KEY to this whole thing.

TREK REPORT: Tell us about your show. What is different about your the “SyFi Sistas” podcast?

SUBRINA WOOD: The show is on the Trek Geek Network, and we drop an episode every two weeks. We have done 11 shows, having just celebrated that critical show #10 threshold. 70% of all podcasts fade by episode #10. So, we are here for the long haul,

I think our show is different in the fact that we have Black women, which is unusual because other shows have Black women teamed with either Black males or white women. There are definitely some science fiction podcasts that are hosted solely by Black women, but we also represent three generations within the Sistas, with two Boomers who came in with TOS, two GenXers who came in with TNG, and our Millennial who came in because she realized LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow was in TNG back in the day! I think that combination truly makes us unique. 

TREK REPORT: Tell us about your co-hosts.

SUBRINA WOOD: There are five sistas and we live in New York, Virginia, D.C., and Maryland. I am the film pundit and quasi-historian; Yvette who works in law enforcement, is a comic book fan and has prodigious Star Trek novels knowledge. She introduced us to Memory – Beta.

Tamia is in retail was a rep for Tor Books, so she has the literary side covered (our book club is developing quite a following), Fran is the other Boomer and is the TOS guru, she is the voice our fans just love and a total romantic, and JD is our millennial who manages our social media and comes up with terrific out of the box ideas.

JD gave us the “Brandy to Burnham: It’s Possible!” idea — the Black Cinderella to Black Starship Captain — and the ST: TNG “Darmok” and Dr. Who “Midnight” comparison show. She also is a phenomenal cook and has a website called “The Captain’s Table” where she creates Star Trek-inspired dishes.

J.D. and a quick moment with Sonequa Martin-Green.

​TREK REPORT: What about Trek is special for you? When did you become a fan?

SUBRINA WOOD: I saw the first show in September of 1966 at ten-years-old; Fran was 11. We are those little Black girls who saw Uhura on the bridge of the Enterprise and that was all she wrote. She wasn’t a nurse like Julia or like Peggy in Mannix. She was a bridge officer, and she essential, and she was the most beautiful woman in the entire series! Star Trek had that view that everything is going to work out, that we will make it to the stars and beyond. All five of us were the nerdy book reading kids who loved space adventures in either comics, film, television or novel form.

TREK REPORT: What is your favorite series and character… and why?

SUBRINA WOOD: I will always love The Original Series and Captain James T. Kirk will always be my captain, but Star Trek: Discovery is the emotional favorite for all of us for obvious reasons. Michael Burnham’s success feels almost personal to us and does the vitriol aim at her. So, while we all have our favorite gateway series, Discovery where the SyFy Sistas become a phalanx between our new favorite Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burham, that entire cast and any undeserved shiggerty.

J.D. and Ethan Peck — Spock from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.
J.D. and Ethan Peck — Spock from Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

TREK REPORT: Tell us about your appearances on other shows…

SUBRINA WOOD: We have to give a big shoutout to Science Division the company that makes the first interactive tribble. Kayleigha and Jay, the owners of Science Division saw a post for an early SyFy Sistas Salon where we discussed “How to Manifest IDIC in Everyday Life.”

The philosophy of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations is our foundational tenet, it inspired our logo that we weave it into our vibe, that and the Parliament Funkadelic which inspired the title of our FB group “The Muthaship.” We strive to be inclusive while making our voices heard. And we do have a very diverse group of followers.

Anyway, that panel led to us doing their Vendor’s Haul event and from there we got an invite from Nerd Trek to recap The Search for Spock which I did solo, and they liked that enough to invite me back for The Undiscovered Country and Tamia joined me. Then 7th Rule and Ryan Husk noticed our tribute tape to Aron Eisenberg and dropped into our impromptu Zoom after-party at the first Virtual Trek Con.

Ryan Invited us on the 7th Rule with Cirroc Lofton which premiered on Christmas Eve just as we dropped our first podcast! And he had us (Tamia and me) as guests on his other show Watch the First (WTF) which he does under the Falling Tower banner with Michael Kenyon Rosenberg. It was crazy after that.

TREK REPORT: If you could interview anyone in Trek (currently living), who would it be? And since we’re doing this… who would be your non-Trek dream interview?

SUBRINA WOOD: We did one dream interview with Cirroc Lofton who played Jake Sisko in DS9. That was when I felt we were really happening, he was so cool and laid back. He’s said some really inspiring thing to us and about us. I would really love to match that interview with one with Avery Brooks. I love him in Deep Space Nine and Spencer for Hire (where am I from?). I thought no character could ever be more badass than Hawk, but along came Benjamin Sisko!