Warp Factor Trek

The Star Trek Fan Website

Farah Foster-Manning, an elite triathlete and actress, not only has the distinction of appearing as an extra in two modern Star Trek shows but is about to make the leap to an upcoming Star Trek movie, currently filming at Pinewood Studios in Toronto, Canada. Having come straight from set, she had to remove black nail polish to do our interview with her. Despite making multiple Star Trek appearances in relatively quick succession, Foster-Manning — who cites Keifer Sutherland and Colm Feore as actors who have inspired her — had no idea that Star Trek is such a massively popular franchise before she began appearing in it. What does she think of Star Trek now and precisely how did her connection with it begin?

Origins

Recalling her earliest memory of Star Trek, Farah Foster-Manning says, “It was Sundays, being at my grandma’s house, and we always turned on Star Trek. It was a Sunday thing, for some reason, back in the day. I don’t know if we were eating dinner during it, but it was something we did in the ’80s; it was one of the TV shows that everybody watched weekly.

Foster-Manning went from working in pharmaceutical sales to becoming an actor. Asked when she knew she wanted to act, she says, “I didn’t know at all. I applied for a TV show that I didn’t know I was applying to on Facebook, in regards to starting a business or buying an existing business. Me and my husband were looking for an additional business anyway, so I applied and we got it.” Foster-Manning and her husband worked with Arlene Dickinson, from Dragon’s Den, on a show called “Under New Management”. Continues Foster-Manning, “That was my first dabble in, basically, acting, but it was more reality TV. We taped, like, thirteen days with her and I’m like, This is kind of cool. So, I called my girlfriend who was an agent in Toronto. I’m like, Hook me up; get me on shows, and from that point, it kind of took off, so that’s how I got into it. If I can do it, anybody can do it. You just have to reach out, communicate, and see what’s going on.

Landing Foster-Manning’s first work on Star Trek was a fairly straightforward deal. “My agent called me,” the actress reflects. “She knows that I’m a very physically fit person. So, yeah, it was as simple as that.

Foster-Manning’s first two appearances on Star Trek were in the the second episode of Strange New Worlds’ second season, “Ad Astra per Aspera” and the penultimate episode of Discovery Season 3, “There Is a Tide…”. In the Strange New Worlds episode, she played a clerk, which she nominates as her favourite Star Trek role so far. “That was awesome,” she enthuses. “I was there for six days and they just made you feel like you were the star. I mean, there was bigger stars besides me, but it was just awesome. I loved being the clerk in Strange New Worlds, for sure.” She also played an Emerald Chain Regulator on Star Trek: Discovery.

Foster-Manning in the costumes to play a JAG clerk in Strange New Worlds… and a Regulator in Discovery

There have been a couple of setbacks to Foster-Manning’s acting career, such as the SAG-AFTRA strike in 2023. “When you have something you absolutely love and you’re put on hold for months, it’s terrible,” she laments. “You just want to get back to it and see your friends, see everybody, and do what you do and what you love. It’s the oddest feeling not having it. This industry was hit hard with Covid stuff too. We were literally doing testing up until June, and then the strike happened in July. It was like, Hey, can we just have a break here? We just want to, you know, get some production stuff out,” she relates. However, Foster-Manning appreciates the motives of the strike, contemplating, “People need to benefit more in the industry. You have to kind of move with progression, so that’s exactly what it was doing.

Making a Star Trek Movie

Farah Foster-Manning recorded some footage for the upcoming Star Trek movie on Friday 23rd February and will be returning to set for her last day on the film, Wednesday 28th February. She finds donning black nail polish for her role is “not a problem.” However, for the movie, it’s “the only costume piece I can tell you about.” She adds, “It will be amazing when you see it, because it’s a pretty cool scene. Seriously, it’s cool. Like, when I say ‘stunts,’ all the stunts are amazing. Honestly, I’m pumped to go back on Wednesday, to carry on to finish it up because it’s so detailed, and it’s just exciting to be there. That’s the thing. I feel like a lot of us have been on hold with a lot of shows and stuff, so to actually get back into our love, our career, our profession, it feels so good. It’s like, Let’s give it our all, let’s go. Other than that, I can’t share anything, but yes, I’m excited. I’m excited for when it actually comes out for everyone.

Foster-Manning also talks admiringly about the movie’s lead actress. “She’s epic. The way she kicks her leg up, it’s like, You can still do that?! Holy cow, girl! Amazing. Watching her, it’s like, Wow! All right. If she can do it, I can do it.”

The endurance of the film’s principal actors has impressed Foster-Manning. “We’re talking literally sixteen hours work per day. We’ve been taping the same scene for six days too, so it’s surreal how they work it for six days. It’s funny, because the scene will literally be on the screen probably for a good minute, so it literally will take the six days, sixteen hours for that minute of awesomeness. Once again, currently we’re talking a movie, right? So, they’re really technical with it and there’s lots of stunts, and the stunts are basically the stuff that takes a while. So, it’s really cool to see.

Star Trek Challenges

For Foster-Manning, preparing for a role involves “a lot of nerves.” Despite that, she comes to set well prepared and finds she has to be very focused on playing her part. She elaborates, “It’s like, I need to focus or I’m going to break. So, one of those things is I can’t get nervous. But that’s just me, though. Everybody’s different. I have to literally zone in, and it probably takes me a good couple days to do it, which isn’t always the best, because sometimes you have to learn lines and stuff within twenty-four hours. But you adjust. People get to know you too on set, where they’re like, Just let her be, just let her be at, you know, lunchtime.”

Getting to work each morning isn’t entirely easy for Foster-Manning. “I think the most challenging part is driving by myself to Toronto. I live about an hour away. Traffic going towards Toronto is horrendous nowadays, and last week we started at about five or six in the morning, so I do have to wake up a couple hours earlier to get there.

Another challenge has been body weight management. “You have to fit in the clothes,” Foster-Manning clarifies, laughing. “You have to put your Spanx on, which really suction you to be in those outfits.” She has found difficulty with eating healthily in order to fit into her Starfleet uniform costumes, which are custom made. “The funniest thing I feel is always, I swear, a couple days before I have to actually go on Star Trek. I’m eating pizza and just devouring stuff. I’m like, What is wrong with me? I should not be eating! I should be like, Okay, I need to just get there and put the clothes on and everything else and be okay with it. And no, I’m always eating. It’s just ridiculous.

Having to maintain secrecy is another challenge of the job. “It’s always tough because anything that we’re taping, we sign an NDA. So, you can never talk about anything until it’s actually out. It’s tough, because sometimes it’s not out for two years.

From Foster-Manning’s perspective, it’s also hard to view the various Star Trek shows in their full context. “When I’m on set, I only know what the scene happening is, what we’re taping. Like, I don’t see the whole progression of the show. So, it’s kind of hard for me to analyze it. This is with any show too, because it’s literally episodes I’m on, I’m not in the full continuity for the whole show. So, I can tell you about what happened when I was there, but I can’t really tell you how I played into it or how it went. That’s the thing, I think, with the different Star Treks. I feel all the different Star Trek are taped similar. The details to costumes and set design have the same feel also. Working with each director also feels very similar.

Fitness

Acting in Star Trek is physically demanding for Foster-Manning and her fellow performers. “We are on our feet pretty much for sixteen hours too,” she explains. “It’s not a lot of sitting around, because they do have to nail whatever the scene is, so we’re always up and down, going back and forth. They’re adjusting the camera angles, they’re doing this and that. But we’re always on the go for those sixteen hours, so it can get tiring,” she says, with a laugh.

Physical fitness is a way to overcome the demands of the job. “I think having your health helps. You have to be that way, I believe, with the hours and a lot of motion and things like that.

As an elite triathlete, Foster-Manning is extremely fitness-conscious. “I have triathlons all the time. It’s like they always say: Why suck at one sport when you can do three?”she laughs. “I’m non-stop training. I have a few Ironmans this year, and a few local triathlon races. Like, I’m nonstop, but I’ve been that way as of maybe eight years ago, so I’m always maintaining. I came from not even a running background to become an elite athlete. Running’s probably my worst, but it can’t be! Cycling is number one. I’d say swimming’s number two and then, yeah, running’s number three. But I have to maintain a level too. I’m actually gonna do Detroit’s half marathon, which is really cool. It’s an international race, so it starts in Detroit, you run across the bridge to Windsor, and then you run through the tunnel back to Detroit. I’ve done it four times already.” Foster-Manning emphasizes training and mental preparation for achieving fitness-based accomplishments.

Acting in Star Trek

Despite the few challenges involved, Foster-Manning’s enthusiasm for her work on Star Trek is apparent. “I love what I do. I love being on Star Trek. I’m in the midst of this one, so it’s pretty cool. With the production itself, there’s never really any issues. And it’s exciting to be there, even with the hours that you’re there.

Asked what her favourite aspect of Star Trek is, she enthuses, “The main actors that we get to work with are phenomenal. They have a natural craft for this, and just to see it within feet from yourself, it’s amazing. It’s amazing what they do, and you get to know the ADs, the director, producer. It’s like a small family environment, actually.

Foster-Manning has been impressed by the Star Trek directors she’s collaborated with. “If you could see the passion they put in each day, you’d be surprised they last the season of taping. The directors are very zoned in each day, but yet the personality will come out at moments because of the long hours.

Fortunately, Foster-Manning doesn’t need to leave all her family behind in order to film scenes. “With the amount of hours, it’s tough, but I literally have my kids acting too. So, I’m either bringing them to set with me or they’re bringing mom to their jobs. They’ve been acting for three or four years also. So, that’s kind of how I work, because I’m like, Well, we can hang out all day. They get their homework done, they get to go on set, and then we come home together. I’m always trying to think outside the box of how I can not be away from family too much or this and that. So, that’s how it works for us.” Foster-Manning agrees with the statement, “The family that acts together stays together.” Acting has funded her children’s university fees. “They love it. They enjoy it so much. They have their friends and all that stuff too. It’s income for them, but they basically go to eat. I mean, there’s a thing called the craft table and craft truck. It’s all-you-can-eat all day. My ten-year-old loves it.

Foster-Manning believes that the efficiency of the personnel on set differentiates Star Trek from other types of shows. “It’s a well-oiled machine. I feel like the other past Star Treks that I’ve been on know what they’re doing and how much time they have per day. Star Trek has been around forever, so they know the audience, they know what they need to present and what the audience needs. They need to nail it, and they do. They are so precise with it all. Everybody’s really, really professional. It’s a good environment.

Foster-Manning’s philosophy as an actress primarily focuses on the importance of personal professionalism. “I’m a being in the industry that needs to act what they want me to do in order to get the movie going. Once again, it comes back to professionalism. It’s like, they’re asking me to do a certain thing. I need to do it in order for them to carry on and so they can have an amazing show or movie out there. Everything is so fine-tuned in this world that they need professionalism. They need it to give their art out to the world. You have to be the best you can be.

Foster-Manning points out that, in Canada, there is a small pool of actors who often get cast for parts in Star Trek. “I just saw my friend who is cast on Strange New Worlds, and he’s an alien in this episode. I only knew it because — of course, he has the mask on, but he looks phenomenal — I heard his voice and I’m like, Oh, my gosh, okay! And I look at his eyes with contacts in. I’m like, That you?! And he’s like, Aha. I’m like, Not again! So, it’s kind of like a small world where they carry one show into the next. Because, like I said, it’s very professional. You’ll probably see a lot of repeats, from one to the other, of the actors. It’s cool because it’s like a small community. They keep hiring the same people, even though it might be a different creature or whatever.

Fan Response

Farah Foster-Manning’s friends and family enjoy seeing her on Star Trek. “Oh, everybody loves it! People just love Star Trek. Maybe sometimes nonchalantly, if I meet somebody and we start talking about career or whatever, I’m like, I’m on Star Trek, and their jaw freaking drops,” she says, laughing. “I was talking to a little boy that wants to get into acting a couple nights ago, and of course, he asked me, What have you been in? I just said, Oh, Umbrella Academy, Handmaid’s Tale. Just anything you could think of that’s on TV, pretty much been there. And then I said, But right now, we’re currently taping Star Trek, and his face was like, Star Trek?! It’s a big thing.

Foster-Manning would be interested in attending the Star Trek convention in Vulcan, Alberta. “If I can get tickets or what have you, I’ll definitely be there. That would be cool, and I’d even bring my Star Trek underwear,” she laughs. “It doesn’t actually look like Star Trek underwear. It just has my name on it, and it’s from the show. I’d have to display it somehow. I’d probably not wear it. I’d put in a box or something.

Foster-Manning relates to the fans of Star Trek who get excited just to hear news about the franchise. “I understand because it’s kind of cool. Like, if I think about my memory back when I was a little girl watching it on TV and now I’m on it, that’s the weirdest thing for me too. And even being Canadian — because you don’t think it’s Canadian, right? — you’re like, What Canadian would ever be on that? Like, everybody. But you don’t know that unless you talk to people.

Though extremely modest, Foster-Manning is highly inspirational. She concludes, “If I can do it, you can do it.

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