Noah Averbach-Katz joined the Star Trek universe playing the Andorian named Ryn in Star Trek: Discovery's third season. Fans quickly recognized one of their own as, in interviews, Averbach-Katz opened up and shared stories of a childhood spent visiting Star Trek conventions with his Trekkie mother. Discovery viewers became equally attached to Ryn, but the character didn't survive to see the end of the season. That's not going to keep Averbach-Katz away. Having continued his relationship with the Star Trek fandom through his social media channels, Twitch livestreams, and the "Disco Does DnD" actual play series with Discovery stars Anthony Rapp, Blu del Barrio, and Ian Alexander. Another Discovery star, Averbach-Katz's wife Mary Wiseman, is also an occasional player on the show.
Hot off of an appearance at Star Trek: Mission Chicago, Averbach-Katz is now joining Star Trek Online in the latest story update to the long-running Star Trek MMORPG, Stormfall. He voices Rae-Yeet, an Andorian rebel in Star Trek's Mirror Universe. ComicBook.com had the chance to talk to Averbach-Katz about joining the game's cast and his place in Star Trek fandom.
Jamie Lovett, ComicBook.com: Can you tell us a little bit about your own gaming habits? Obviously, you're going to be streaming Star Trek Online, but what games do you play? What genres are you into?
Noah Averbach-Katz: I would call myself a depression gamer, which is whenever I get really depressed, I'll 100% a video game. I wouldn't call myself your classic gamer who's trying out all the new games, who's up to date with everything. It's like, "Oh boy, things are getting dark, I need to escape." And so I'll lock myself in a room or in the living room for a full month and then I'll emerge.
I'm big on grid strategy games. I'm not a very good fast, twitch gamer. I'm a much more strategy, grid-based, which is why D&D resonates with me. A big obsession with something like The Banner Saga, that whole series, or XCOM, or Into the Breach. I grew up playing chess very badly, I did come in second place in a competition when I was in fifth or fourth grade, so the gridded thing just really does it. And usually, because I'm depressed when I'm playing video games, I'm trying to keep my anxiety level very low. So if things are jumping out of me, or they're moving really fast, or I can't keep up, that doesn't help my anxiety. But seeing the board, understanding the move, thinking a couple of moves ahead, those are the games that get me going. But I'm not averse to a Horizon or God of War or stuff like that.
As you were coming up as an actor, was voice-acting something that you hoped to do? Or is this kind of something you ended up doing as a result of being an actor?
I hoped to do voice acting, but I don't have great voice acting skills. I don't have good accents. There are just way better voice actors than me. I don't have a great voice acting voice. I think if you're really trying to hit a straightforward main character, or you're trying to get me to sell you a pair of pants, sweet spot, nailed it. But somebody like Bonnie Gordon, who I know is this amazing voice actor, you know when you hear voice actors and different accents just sit on them so well, and then you hear me do it, and you're like, "Man, I think he's having a stroke or something. That's just not right." Obviously I want to do it. Being a part of a video game has definitely been something I've been really interested in and happy to get to do, and I hope to get to do more.
So often when you do acting work or commercial work, you make the product, you make the thing, you have the experience in the moment, and then you re-encounter it like two years later when you're completely separated from it. And then everybody else is encountering it for the first time, but your experience of the piece of media is completely different than the people who are encountering it for the first time. You've already completely moved on, and had your full experience. But I'm really looking forward to this because I will encounter the experience in real-time with the other people. The first time I'm going to play it is when I'm streaming it. And I know what the lines are but I don't know what other people's lines are. I know what the gist of it is, but I don't really know what all is going on. And I certainly don't know what it's going to look like, or feel like, or how the play through is going to be. So I'm just very excited to get to have an experience where I get to encounter it at the same time as everybody else.
Do you find that your experience with tabletop roleplaying games helped yu with your voice acting performance? It's another setting where you're using your voice and imagination, but not doing the physical acting.
It actually helped. It's such a big help in acting in general. I don't think it helped my voice acting. It probably made my voice acting worse because now all of my D&D characters are just slightly different-toned, bad British accents. As opposed to practicing one good accent, I have like 50 shitty accents instead. But on a whole, I think it made my acting a lot better because you get to act, and you get to drive the story. So your true impulses, and your true character making, and the things you're truly attracted to are almost pulled out of you. You're not being directed where to go, and you're also not really in control, so what you like to do is pulled out of you in this really cool way that is not intellectual, but is almost revealed to you over a couple years of roleplay, and I've really, really appreciated that element. And playing lawful evil characters is like, okay, that's my sweet spot. Maybe I won't get cast there, but that's where I like to live.
So, evil Vulcan will be your ideal next Star Trek character?
100%. Logical, step-by-step masterminding a 40-episode plot. You can ask Anthony [Rapp] about it, he will 100% agree.
You're playing Rae-Yeet, an Andorian rebel, in Star Trek Online. Who is this character, in your own words?
The name Rae-Yeet, first off, Rae is a nickname for my mom Rachel, who is my Star Trek guardian, or master, if you will. So the Rae part is a bit of a tribute to her. And then the Yeet is when, my very first stream, I'm horribly nervous. Who's going to watch this? I don't know anything about this, the world's most complex game, and I'm trying to pick a character name and I'm just like, "I don't know, do I want to do something clever, or do I want to take a suggestion?" And I was doing the random name generator and it generated the name "YthisYeet" or something like that, and I just thought it was the funniest name ever. And then when Al Rivera was going for a name, I was like, "Well, what about Rae?" He's like, "Rae's good, but like it needs to be Andorian." He's like, "What's your character name?" I'm like, "YthisYeet." He's like, "All right, Rae-Yeet. Good." And I was like, "Okay, sure."
I would call him maybe a pirate with a heart of gold kind of thing. Less pirate, more heart of gold. He's trying to fight for the right thing, and kill the bad guys, and doesn't want to get in bed with all the evil folk, but knows that in order to save everyone, he's going to have to make some compromises, and he's just kind of got that bit of a badass swagger to him, I think.
You played Ryn, another Andorian, in Star Trek: Discovery. How do the two compare?
It's a very interesting comparison actually. I think that Rae-Yeet is probably either what Ryn was like way before we met him when he was at the height of his game, or what he would've been like if he would've survived. Somebody who's lived a lot of life, who knows the reality of the world, who isn't naive, but that also is a badass and willing to fight for the right thing and fight for the greater good. I think they're very cool in conjunction with each other.
You know you said lawful-evil was your sweet spot. Yet, you somehow keep ending up playing chaotic-good Andorians.
I don't know man. I don't know, I don't know. I think chaotic-good, lawful-good, maybe neutral-good, something like that. I don't know. I got to get behind a Cardassian spoon man, that's where I'm supposed to live.
Star Trek Online has had some fun with legacy characters before, like Jeffrey Combs playing Shran's grandson. I know that timeline gets weird, but do you think there's a relation between Ryn and Rae-Yeet, even if it's just in your personal head-canon?
Honestly, you know this, the Star Trek Online chronography is extremely complicated, so I don't want to say something that's literally impossible. I would say that every Andorian, regardless of whether they know it or not, is at least in spirit, related to the Über-Andorian Shran. Every Andorian falls through that category.
I think most fans know this, but you're married to Mary Wiseman, who plays Sylvia Tilly in in Star Trek: Discovery. She's also in Star Trek Online, both as Tilly and her Mirror Universe counterpart Captain Killy. Did you have any fun interactions with the character while playing or working on Star Trek Online?
Tilly was in there for a bit. It was fun getting to play with her, especially since Mary leads the whole intro, which was such an exciting way to get to intro into the game. She's also like 12 feet tall. She has the longest legs in the game. It's really funny to see somebody you know really well get turned into a toon, basically. In a great, loving way, it made her look a bit like Slender Man, which I really appreciate, in a loving way.
What about your own Captain? The character you play when you're not voicing Rae-Yeet?
I've been playing an Andorian with some Orion skin poking through. I always thought it'd be cool if Ryn was half Orion but nobody listened to me. And he's wearing his Christmas sweater because I am too lazy to change it.
You've become part of this big fandom family now with Star Trek, and you're going even deeper now being part of Star Trek Online. How has becoming part of Star Trek affected you, or affected your life?
It's been a really, really interesting experience, and a good experience. My episodes came out in November 2020. Obviously, March, April, May, were some really hard months for everybody, and there was very little ways to feel good. It was just really challenging, it was a really challenging time. I'm sure everybody knows exactly what I'm talking about. And when my episodes came out and I was putting myself on the internet and doing interviews and podcasts and whatever, interacting with people on the internet, which then eventually turned to going to conventions and interacting with people there, and Twitch, and all these different places of interaction and connection. I have felt very lucky over these past three years to feel like I can truly make somebody's day better.
I think in the internet age it feels so overwhelming to try and do something good because there are so many problems, and it feels so overwhelming to be able to make any difference in anyone's life. And when I positively interact with somebody at a convention, when I pay attention to their story, being on the other side of the table, I know how meaningful those interactions can be and how they can stay with you for a long time and buoy you in some really challenging times. Because I know that. I've been there. So to be able to give that gift to people, I feel like that has really been a really special thing that I have been gifted by Star Trek, Star Trek Online, by the whole thing over the past two years. I would say that's the main way it's impacted my life, is that I can make people's day a little bit better, which is a big deal sometimes.
As you alluded to, and have talked about explicitly in other interviews, you've been going to Star Trek conventions since you were a kid with your mother. Do you feel like now that you're one, as you said, on the other side of the table, you've gained a new or different understanding of what it was like for those actors you met back then?
It just makes me appreciate them even more. I really think the reason Star Trek is still around, why they are still Star Trek fans, is the energy and work and patience that all those OGs put in, both on the fan side, and on the actor side, at these conventions, and of course, not every interaction is positive, I understand that, but it's a lot of work. You're handling a lot of emotional load from people, and I just really appreciate both sides making it happen and also being present for it.
Anybody who went to any convention before 2007, it was the fucking wild west, you know what I mean? You didn't know where you were going to be. You didn't know what the fuck was going on. You didn't know who you were going to get. And the sort of codified rules, convention rules, cosplay rules, that exist now as a part of our nerd consciousness just didn't exist. I'm sure it must have been extremely challenging to navigate that as an actor, probably, while also getting labeled as pigeonholed as a certain type of actor who did these conventions. I have a lot of appreciation for them keeping a lot of fans, and a lot of people, interested and engaged, and meeting them with as much kindness as they could muster in the moment.
I know you were running a Kickstarter campaign for your upcoming short film Type 1.
Kickstarter is complete and we'll start shooting on the 11th.
I know the film hopes to raise awareness of the problems people with diabetes face regarding having to buy insulin. Do you feel like being part of Star Trek, such a visible franchise, helped bring more attention to that?
Yes. It all started after I got cast. I've been a Type 1 diabetic for 20 years. I'd been involved in the Insulin4All community, insulin prices crisis, T1 International, giving out insulin to those in need, blah, blah, blah. And when I got cast I put T1D, Type 1 diabetic, in my little Twitter bio and a fan reached out and said, "Hey, I made this image. It's just an image. It's the Delta with a little blood drop for Insulin4All division." And I thought about it for a bit, and I put it up on Twitter with a call for donations, and the Trek community, with no incentive other than being Star Trek fans, donated $12,000 to T1 International, which, for an organization that doesn't take money from pharmaceutical companies, and it's smaller org, it's an amazing and important amount of money that makes a huge difference.
And then a bunch of fans reached out to me and they said, "Hey, we want to make 3D printed pins. Can you do something with them?" So I ran another fundraiser where I essentially sold these pins and an autograph and then donated another $5,000 to T1 International. It was like $15,000, $18,000 in total. And that was all Star Trek fans and Star Trek energy. And then with this Kickstarter, it was the continuation of that energy and also the crossover between all the Type 1 diabetics who I hadn't interacted with or people who were close with people with Type 1 diabetes in the Star Trek community and reached out and pushed that out to their friends and families who might not be Star Trek fans but were interested in a project like this. The beating core of that successful Kickstarter, and of the movie itself, is the Star Trek community.
That brings us to the end of our chat. Where can fans find you streaming Star Trek Online?0comments
If people want to come to watch me do this playthrough, the episode drops on the 10th [Editor's note: Averbach-Katz's stream has since been rescheduled to May 17th] on my Twitch, which is TheType1Trekkie. I'm going to stream Stormfall. I also do the voice in the TFO update. And so that'll be at 3:30 on Twitch, and it'll be super fun and a celebration, because I didn't get in this game because I'm talented, I got in because the community wanted me in. It really will be a celebration with the community, and doing something fun with them and something that everybody should feel like they had a hand in that I get to do the best part of. I'll do that and I'll be there until we finish
This interview has been edited for length, flow, and clarity. Star Trek Online is free-to-play and available to download on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4.