Tue 11 Aug 2020 23:06

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You can catch the full Brent Spiner interview above.

Star Trek: The Next Generation and Picard cast member Brent Spiner sat down this week for a very special virtual interview with the JLGB, a volunteer organisation whose mission is to train and develop “young people of the Jewish faith to reach their potential through active citizenship, within both the Jewish and wider community, empowering them to become future leaders of tomorrow.” The JLGB is celebrating 125 years of service and Spiner, who is Jewish, spoke with JLGB volunteer Samuel Gillary. Gillary is a youth leader with autism who claims Brent Spiner as his personal hero. His questions for the actor centred on his performance as Lt. Commander Data, revealing a meaningful look at the impact of the character of Data in the autistic community.

Between the writing on TNG and Brent Spiner’s acting skills, the character of Data was slow to acclimate in social settings and had difficulty understanding emotion. Spiner was asked how it made him feel that Data became an inspiration for those with autism, struggling to fit in while developing their own social skills and emotions much as his beloved character did. 

His response? He did not know it was happening - at first.

“I had no idea while we were doing the series that the character was speaking to so many young people,” he said. “Particularly, [people] who were struggling with emotional expression.”

Spiner spoke of a surprise visit to his trailer on the set of The Next Generation from the late neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks, which opened Spiner’s eyes to the impact of the Data character in the autistic community. Calling Spiner the “poster boy” for his line of work, Sacks helped Spiner begin to see the social value of a character like Data.

Over the years, Dr. Sacks was not the only person to approach the actor about the social effect Data would have. “So many people have told me about the experiences that they had,” Spiner said. “I’m glad that I didn’t know too much about it at the time, because I think I would have pushed the writers to address it more head-on and it could have ruined the entire thing. I am honoured, really, to have been able to be there and help people, and not even know about it. It was a lucky accident in the creation of the part.”





For over 125 years, young Jewish people have been discovering just how brilliant they can be and how they can make the world a better place through JLGB. Whether you're 8 or 18, whatever you want to be, join in and be your best self with us! 

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