How did Ito Aghayere portray Whoopi Goldberg's character from Star Trek: Picard?
by Jaskiran Kaur | Tue, 29 Mar 2022 16:31:16 GMT
Ito Aghayere stars as Guinan in Star Trek: Picard, reprising the younger version of Whoopi Goldberg; Credits: Hollywood Life

Jean-Luc Picard and Guinan are the two characters from Star Trek that have a really unique bond. Played by Patrick Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg, the actors are now as close as their TNG characters. 

When TNG came forward with the Star Trek sequel series, Star Trek: Picard, the U.S.S. Enterprise actors welcomed Whoopi Goldberg to join the series and reprise her character. He called her into the series in January 2022 through an announcement on an episode of The View.

Hence, Guinan has now made her way back to the franchise as Picard, and the two gave each other a cordial onscreen welcome as the old friends finally get to meet once again. They celebrate a small little party at Guinan's bar back on Earth, and she comforts Picard for his setback. 

The series however soon takes a darker turn as an alternate view of the world is presented to Picard. He sees himself in a terrifying, horrific alternate timeline in which the Earth is subject to a totalitarian government. The Federation does not exist, and Jean-Luc Picard is in control as a fearsome dictator. 

Picard is so deeply engrossed in the alternate timeline that he almost starts believing in it, while all the other main cast characters of the show remember the original version of the things. Picard finally makes it back in time to 2024 and is not confident about which form of reality he has entered. 

Hence, that is how Picard finds himself back in Guinan's bar but meets the younger version of his friend Guinan. The character of the younger Guinan is played by Ito Aghayere instead of Whoopi Goldberg in Episode 4, Watcher, of the series. 

The actress revealed that she had a lifelong fantasy of wanting to be cast in Star Trek. She had always wanted to be the fantasy of The Next Generation and watched TNG as a child. 

She could relate to the series as her parents were immigrants, and were strict about what she saw. As that limited her number of options when it came to the shows that she could watch, TNG was the one series her parents allowed her to watch without caring much about it. 

Her parents would let her TNG as they thought that Patrick looked "really smart and intelligent" in the series. She couldn't watch normal kid shows like Power Rangers, but Star Trek made the cut. 

Sharing her first experience of watching The Next Generation, Aghayere shared that back in the time of TNG, she was a young Black girl with braces. Hence, watching a black woman on the top of her game and working with Patrick Stewart was extremely motivating for Aghayere. 

Notably, Whoopi Goldberg did not star in many episodes of the series. However, she did great work in all the episodes she starred in and overshadowed other stars just even with her guest appearances. Ito Aghayere aspired to reach that level of charisma and talent in her career. 

Despite her raging love for the character and the show, Iko did not find out that she would be playing Guinan until later in her casting process. Her reps were approached for this role for her, and she was just told that she has to play a character named Gwen. 

The scene however featured the same dynamic as the relationship between Guinan and Patrick, and Iko could relate to the hatred the character felt against this world. She could relate to the emotions of the character provided in the script and hence decided to play the Black woman. 

Iko did not even know that the auditions she was appearing in were for Star Trek. After only two calls for the auditions, she got to know that she could potentially star in the series. 

She auditioned for the show sitting in a hotel room in Mount Zion National Park, with her laptop resting on a suitcase when the producers told her that she was auditioning for Star Trek. It felt like an unreal moment where she couldn't believe that it was true. 

The series has some intense dialogues where Guinan lets loose and speaks what's on her mind, and that truly represents her stance as a Black woman. It felt "lovely" that she could tell a story with the character where many people around the globe could resonate with her. 

Unfortunately, though Ito could fulfill one part of her childhood dream and meet Patrick for the role, she couldn't meet Whoopi Goldberg. The series was shot during the pandemic, and there was not much liberty to have many people on set. 

Ito hopes to continue on with the series and connect with the character of Whoopi as the series continue; Credits: Ito Aghayere

Yet the series is still going through a ton of stuff, and there are chances that the series could develop into more iconic features. Ito is holding out hope that the series would finally make a connection between the two storylines, and the younger and older Guinan would get to meet.