Robert Duncan McNeill played Tom Paris on Star Trek: Voyager and is one of the graduates of Star Trek’s “director’s school,” a system that turned several Star Trek actors into accomplished directors. McNeill is bringing his directing skills to an episode of The Orville Season Two, but he won't be directing Star Trek: Discovery for the foreseeable future.
In an interview with the official Star Trek website, McNeill explained why he’s not helming an episode of Discovery’s second season.
“I wanted to direct Discovery,” McNeill says. “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.”
McNeill makes it clear that he supports Discovery's attempts to give opportunities to underrepresented creators, and that it is something he’s attempted to do as well on shows that he produces. He’s not put out by having to wait his turn and hopes that he does get to direct an episode of Discovery at some point.
“Most importantly, it's a wonderful thing that's happening,” he says. “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
Of the 15 episodes in the first season of Star Trek: Discovery, four of them were directed by either a female or minority director. Two were directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi, one by Hanelle Culpepper, and one by Lee Rose.
CBS hasn’t released a list of directors for the show’s second season, but we do know that co-creator and new showrunner Alex Kurtzman is directing the season premiere and that Jonathan Frakes, the first student in Star Trek’s director’s school, will direct the second episode and another later in the season.
Star Trek: Discovery Season Two is now filming in Toronto. The first season of Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream in its entirety on CBS All Access in the United States, through CraveTV in Canada, and through Netflix in other international markets.