Star Trek: Voyager Actor Explains Discovery's Push Towards More Diverse Directors

Tom Paris Robert Duncan McNeill Star Trek Voyager CBS

Actor Robert Duncan McNeill had wanted to direct a television series long before joining the cast of Star Trek: Voyager as Tom Paris, but never had a show he was on last long enough to do so. That changed with Voyager, and McNeill has led a successful career in Hollywood since as a director for television and the Star Trek franchise. McNeill was recently asked if he'd serve as a director for an episode of Star Trek: Discovery, and while he didn't say no, he explained the show's shift towards more diverse directors has limited his opportunities to do so:

I wanted to direct Discovery. I met with their producing director. I didn't know the show that well, but I met with him on their last hiatus to talk about season two. I also produce now. So, I hire a lot of directors. The last few years, there's been a seismic shift in terms of the priorities toward female and diverse directors. That reality now has meant that what used to be normal, which was a lot of white guys, to be quite honest, has changed. Some shows are mostly women directing. I think Jessica Jones, last year, had all female directors. Handmaid's Tale. A woman may direct the next Star Trek movie.

Robert Duncan McNeill indicated that he had meetings with Star Trek: Discovery staff ahead of Season 2, and had expressed a desire to direct for the series. As McNeill mentioned, however, trends in Hollywood have shifted, and Star Trek: Discovery as well as several other prominent shows are making a concerted effort to hire more female and ethnically diverse directors. In short, the landscape of directors in Hollywood primarily consisting of Caucasian males is changing to a new normal, which could limit the opportunities McNeill has to contribute on projects like Star Trek: Discovery.

Robert Duncan McNeill isn't upset about that, however; he thinks it's a good thing. While the shift may have cost him an opportunity to return and direct a Star Trek series in the near future, McNeill appeared to be on board with Star Trek: Discovery's decision, and indicated to he's still up to direct should the show want him down the road:

Most importantly, it's a wonderful thing that's happening. I'm proud that on other shows I've produced -- The Gifted, The Arrangement, Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce -- I've brought in female directors. But, to answer your question, Discovery does a limited number of episodes and a priority there is to get female and diverse directors, so there are fewer opportunities for people like me, which is a great thing. But, yeah, if the opportunity arose to direct Discovery and I fit what they needed and it fit my schedule, I'd love to do it.

Robert Duncan McNeill should get a chance to direct Star Trek: Discovery eventually, or we can assume as much considering the series has welcomed another former actor-turned-director Jonathan Frakes on board to direct in both seasons. McNeill revealed he began his quest to directing Star Trek by shadowing Frakes, so maybe the former Star Trek: The Next Generation actor can put in a word for his former pupil. If not, McNeill's extensive television resume in and out of Star Trek speaks for itself, so it's more than likely a matter of making sure the timing is right for both parties.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 is headed to CBS All Access sometime in 2019. For a look at other things headed to streaming in the meantime, check out our Netflix and Amazon premiere guides. Those more interested in what's happening in television in general will find what they're looking for with our summer premiere guide. For more on Star Trek: Voyager, read up on the fake scientific study inspired by an episode that actually got published!

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.