T’Lyn Actor, Gabrielle Ruiz, Talks About Vulcan Attitudes, the Final Season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, And Her First Terrestrial Con Appearance Ever at Trek Long Island

Gabrielle Ruiz and T'Lyn

When Gabrielle Ruiz was ready for her interview with SciFiSland.com she texted: “Call when you’re ready or should I say ENGAGE!” The actor – best known around these parts for voicing the Vulcan T’Lyn on Star Trek: Lower Decks – gets it.

“I feel like her star is rising,” Ruiz said about T’Lyn. “It’s been so wonderful to have so much engagement among the Fab Four of Lower Decks.”

After some guest starring appearances in previous seasons, T’Lyn joined the crew of the USS Cerritos at the end of Season 3. She’s a Vulcan but with a penchant for using her intuition and (gasp!) feeling her way around a problem. This got her in a little trouble with High Command who shipped her off to Starfleet.

Ruiz is not known for playing your run-of-the-mill character type so being the Vulcan who runs afoul of her superiors because she relies on her gut instincts a little too much might be right in her wheelhouse. Ruiz is a self-described “Broadway broad” with a number of performances on The Great White Way under her belt including a stint on Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights and the 2012 revival of Evita. She may be best known for her role as Valencia in the CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, a character that had a number of twists and turns in her own storyline. (Donuts!) She sings. She dances. She acts. She voices a Vulcan – one of the most seriously logical species in all of sci-fi – in an animated comedy.

“The show definitely leaned into the comedy,” said Ruiz.

Credit- StarTrek.com

She enjoyed being a Vulcan comedian, an oxymoron if there ever was one. Ruiz thinks that this has always been a part of the Star Trek DNA.

“All of Star Trek always had comedy in it,” she said. “William Shatner established that.”

She also learned her character’s deadpan delivery from deconstructing scenes of previous Star Trek shows involving Vulcan interactions.

“They asked us to reference a scene with T’Pol and her mother,” said Ruiz. “The whole thing is shade.”

Showrunner Mike McMahan has said as much on StarTrek.com.

“T’Lyn is so great to have because she adds this dryness, this comedic sort of deadpan-ness,” said McMahan. “The other Lower Deckers are all pretty loud; they’re all big. Then having that moment of deflation where T’Lyn can then say something cutting and funny or incisive… I just love that a Vulcan can just explicitly say what’s happening. It’s like walking right up to the fourth wall, but not quite doing that that I love.”

Ruiz also felt that actor Leonard Nimoy as Spock was always leaning over her shoulder when developing the Vulcan voice for T’Lyn. 

“The vocabulary was already there,” she said. “The intonation is there.”

In the voice over world, Ruiz says you don’t get a ton of feedback. Most times she’s not acting with her co-stars. She records her part doing the best that she can with the script she’s given.

“You have to go with instinct,” she said. “And send it off to space and see if it comes back.”

Ruiz said when she auditioned for the role of T’Lyn, she recorded her lines in her closet.

“I auditioned in my pajamas,” she said with a laugh.

But when she was done recording, something bothered her about what she had put down on tape.

“I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I needed more of a Vulcan voice,” she said.

Credit- StarTrek.com

Ruiz recently moved back to the East Coast and is excited for her appearance in May at Trek Long Island. Billed as her first convention appearance ever, using a certain T’Lyn-style of Vulcan logic, that statement is only technically true. Ruiz appeared on a Star Trek cruise in February.

“It is my first convention on land,” she said. “I cannot be more thrilled.”

T’Lyn’s star is rising just as the sun is setting on Star Trek: Lower Decks after news that the show will complete its five-year mission next season.

“We just recorded the final season,” said Ruiz. “I am devastated that we’re finishing.”

Ruiz said that at the time of our interview (in mid-April 2024) she had only gotten the news herself a week prior.

“There’s always a chance when one holodeck door closes another one opens,” she said.

She said the final season is one of growth for the characters and the storyline.

“It’s absolutely bittersweet,” she said.

Ruiz will not be saying goodbye to the character, hitting the convention circuit and reliving the moments from the show that made T’Lyn so special. And she’s always quick with an appropriate Star Trek line to describe the situation.

“As Spock said, ‘I have been, and always shall be, your friend,’” she said in perfect pitch.

Ruiz also geeked out a little about the thing she gets most excited about being on the show.

“The classic moment for me in every episode is seeing my name in the Star Trek font,” she said. “It’s everything to me. It is never not emotional.”

Ruiz says her mother was a Trekkie so it was especially emotional for her to get the role of T’Lyn as a regular on the series. When she heard she was booked, she called her parents.

“I said, ‘guys I’m playing a Vulcan!’”

See Gabrielle Ruiz when she appears at Trek Long Island at the Hyatt Regency in Hauppauge on Long Island, which runs from May 31 to June 2, 2024. Click here for more details about the convention. Photos: Courtesy Gabrielle Ruiz; StarTrek.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *