*Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike going into effect. Awards Radar stands with the actors, their union, and wishes for a resolution that helps the working actor live a better life. Union Strong!*
One of the most satisfying surprises of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the exploration of ancillary characters from the original Star Trek series who were originally used to service the lead characters and their storylines. Nurse Chapel (Jess Bush), M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), and for me, the most fascinating of them all, T’Pring (Gia Sandhu). I consider her the Lilith of Star Trek. A stone-cold Vulcan who can deliver a cutting remark with a dry wit.
Sandhu’s representation of T’Pring may have the calm, cool demeanor or a Vulcan but like her betrothed Spock (Ethan Peck), she has an ocean of mysterious emotions beneath. I sat down with Gia to discuss the hilarious episode Charades, her character T’Pring, and what makes this particular pointy-eared alien tick.
Gia:“I think during the episode, Spock’s character explains it quite beautifully that Vulcans have more powerful emotions than humans do. So that’s why they have this need to suppress them. And I think this episode really beautifully illustrates that Vulcans are actually not robots. They are living, breathing beings. And their personalities can be quite different as we see, especially between the mother and the father in this episode. And so I think, portraying it, it’s really, it’s an interesting kind of dance between still being this living, breathing, being, and also being able to control a lot of the human instincts that we have. So what I liked about this episode a lot was the fact that Spock at the end of it says, you seemed very overwhelmed by your mother. And that was kind of what characterized how far I could go. In terms of showing this. This human almost human displays of being annoyed and being irritated and sad. And, you know, all those wonderful things that humans feel and the Vulcans try to minimize.”
For an emotionless and serious alien race, the Vulcans in Strange New Worlds seem to be featured in a lot of comedy-centric episodes.
Gia: “I wasn’t expecting it when I first got the role. Because when you watch Amok Time, it’s not that funny, as far as T’Pring’s character is concerned, so I was pleasantly surprised that they keep on writing comedy for T’Pring I love it. I enjoy it so much. And I think it’s, it’s just fun to play a character who’s meant to be quite stern and have these kind of bizarre circumstances where they get to explore all these really comedic things that end up happening to them and how they navigate that.”
The fashion in Strange New Worlds has been out of this world (pun intended). No character benefits more from the elaborate designs than T’Pring who gets to show off both casual and formal Vulcan clothing.
Gia: “It’s funny, because in this episode, T’Pring complains about the outfit that she’s wearing, that her mother chose it. And I think as soon as you hear that, you kind of understand it, when you look at the outfit. It’s a little different than, you know, the subtler colors that she’s used to wearing this bright gold that she suddenly has. There’s so much thought and care that goes into all of that. And Bernadette Croft is the costume designer, and she is just, she’s collaborative, and she’s so creative. And we had a good laugh during this one because it almost felt like it looked like she was going to prom, all of a sudden, whatever the Vulcan prom might look like. So it’s lovely when the designers of the show really help to elevate what’s going on and a lot of it is very nuanced. And it’s always beautiful to play with that.“
In Charades, T’Pring takes a bold stance and tells Spock that they are “taking a break.” Often a show will make the fiancé into a shrew to ensure the audience is still on the side of the main character. Yet T’Pring’s perspective and response is completely justified and relatable. Trust is the most important foundation of any relationship and Spock breaks it by withholding his “medical condition”.
Gia: “I really feel for her. Yeah, it sucks to be the person who’s excluded from this inside knowledge about what’s going on with the person who’s supposed to be closest to you. That’s an awful feeling. And I don’t know how I would rank her reaction, you know, in terms of scaling. Whether it was a little, I don’t know dramatic, or whether it was exactly what needed to happen. I’m not sure where I where I stand on that. But I certainly feel for her.“
I asked Gia what she thinks T’Pring is doing during her break from Spock.
Gia: “I imagine she’s probably immersing herself in work and somehow Stonn comes along and there is, you know, magic in the air between the two of them. Or is there? I don’t know, when I watch Amok Time I kind of wonder. I’m like, is this just a just a ploy? I don’t know. I’d be curious to know, I’m genuinely so curious about this character. I find her so fascinating.”
Watch Gia’s work with the entire crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds streaming on Paramount+. Season two is premiering new episodes of the 10-episode season every Thursday. You can also listen to our full conversation below.