The women who made Star Trek

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Right around 1989 and 1990, before DVRs and subscription services for TV shows were available, millions of fans around the US diluted their Monday blues with heated expectation for the evening, when they could finally see the next episode of Star Trek – the Next Generation. Helm secured at the hands of Jean-Luc Picard, we could all safely sail into the galaxy with Riker, Data and Geordi, in a future filled with alien star exploration and spaceship romance.

Trek – the Next Generation was the first of 5 reboots of the mother of all sci-fi TV shows: Star Trek. Star Trek was innovative and groundbreaking in its own right and in every way. It checked every mark on the list: it presented a diverse and multicultural cast, it dealt head-on with important issues of cultural and political themes using metaphoric adventures (and awesome CGI), it dared to defy tropy storylines, and, maybe in a way that has not been seen since on the small screen, it presented women as powerful.


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Bright, intelligent, and oftentimes the heroines of the plotlines, female characters in the entire Star Trek universe were showed to hold high positions in the military structure that the show presented — the Starfleet — and were presented as apt and powerful, as capable and commanding, and as complete equals. With its intense cult-like adoration around the world, female empowerment became even more important to represent — and Star-Trek rose to the occasion every time.

With each reboot more daring than the one before, the women of Star Trek were responsible for empowering generation and generation of young women through representation of wise and strong characters, who became role models remembered many years after the shows went off the air. Here are just a few very memorable members of the female cast of Star-Trek then — and now.

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Kate Mulgrew – Then

Kate Mulgrew is another incredibly memorable cast member, who also broke conventions as the first female captain in Star Trek – Voyager. Mulgrew, an accomplished actress, was again honored to participate in Star Trek’s groundbreaking moment: “I got the pleasure of transcending stereotypes that I was very familiar with”, she has said. Mulgrew acted in the show until it went off the air in 2001.

Kate Mulgrew – Now

One of the most formidable cast members of Star Trek, and certainly one of the most well-known, Mulgrew guest starred in various TV shows and had small roles in films, as well as star in several theater productions. In 2013, Mulgrew was cast as Red in the hit Netflix series Orange is the New Black — another groundbreaking show known for empowering women. Mulgrew has 2 sons and a daughter she gave up for adoption at 18, and reunited with in 2001.

Rosalind Chao – Then

Rosalind Chao starred in both Star Trek: the Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as botanist Keiko O’Brien, a sweet and kind character who represented mainly a powerful woman in a marital relationship, as her wholesome character did not stop her from being a needed professional on the spaceship, and an independent woman, another point of inspiration from Roddenberry, who made sure to provide role model of all kinds for young women (and men).

Rosalind Chao – Now

Rosalind Chia-Ling Chao was born in California and majored in journalism at USC. Her parents ran a successful pancake shop, which we envy on spaceship-high levels. She’s appeared in many theater productions since leaving the Star Trek branch, and memorably guest starred in both the film and the series M*A*S*H. Chao is married and has two children, and still resides in California. She used to work in Disneyland, which, in combination with the pancake story, really makes her awesome beyond belief.

Whoopi Goldberg – Then

Whoopi Goldberg was already a huge star when she joined Star Trek: Next Generation. She portrayed Guinan, a metaphysical being of an unknown race who served as an emotional advisor and moral compass for members of the ship. Goldberg, one of the biggest names in Hollywood, developed a lifelong fandom of Star Trek after she watched Nichelle Nichols on the original series, and cried out to her mother: “Mommy! There’s a black lady on TV and she ain’t a maid!” She in fact asked to join the cast.

Whoopi Goldberg – Now

Whoopi Goldberg is the winner of an Academy Award and a Grammy Award, and has starred in some of the most famous films ever: Ghost, Sister Act, and The Color Purple; she participated in numerous theater productions and TV shows, owns her own production company, and currently stars on The View, a popular talk show where she discusses current events with a cast of other formidable women in media. Goldberg is a philanthropist, and was awarded numerous honors, including the Women in Film Crystal Award.

Gates McFadden – Then

Gates McFadden (Cheryl Gates McFadden) is another memorable Star Trek cast member. She portrayed Beverly Crusher, the ship’s doctor and chief medical officer in Star Trek: The New Generation. Perhaps more memorably, her character was a love interest of leading cast member Patrick Stewart’s unforgettable character, captain Jean-Luc Picard. Beverly Crusher was the epitome of a strong, independent woman. A capable doctor, she resided on the ship with her son, Westley, to whom she was a single parent.

Gates McFadden – Now

McFadden is from Ohio and studied at Brandeis University. After Next Generation, she starred in several films, including Taking Care of Business with James Belushi. She also appeared in many theater production, notably a production of Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, alongside a few of her Next Generation cast members — including Patrick Stewart. She currently is listed as part of the faculty at the theater department of the University of Southern California. She frequents Star Trek conventions as well.

Majel Barrett – Roddenberry – Then

Considered to be the First Lady of Star trek, Majel Barrett – Roddenberry is the wife of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Because of this, Barrett – Roddenberry has appeared in every single one of the Star Trek serieses, and even supplied the voice of the Enterprise’s on board computer in the movies. On the television show, she played the first officer, a nurse, a doctor, Betazoid ambassador Lwaxana Troi and Ambassador Troi. .

Majel Barrett – Roddenberry – Now

Majel Barrett as left the world of film and television and focused primarily on voice acting. In fact, her voice is used for railroad defect detector devices on the Southern Pacific Railroad. She also voice acted in several movies, including the animated Hamlet A.D.D. Sadly, Majel Barrett -Roddenberry passed away as a result of leukemia at the age of 76 years old. Her funeral was attended by over 250 people, including Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Nichelle Nichols.

Terry Farrell – Then

Terry Farrell played the role of Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. She was friends with several members of the cast already, and was actually hanging out with Marina Sirtis when she got a call from the Star Trek producers that she had received the role she had been hoping for on the show. Farrell also played Jadzia Dax in the Mirror Universe shows, and also provided Dax’s voice in the video games.

Terry Farrell – Now

Terry Farrell began her career as a model before going into television and eventually reprising the role of Jadzia Dax. When her character got killed off of Deep Space 9, she was hurt personally, giving tearful goodbyes to the crew between takes. She is noted for being graceful and a stand up person when she left the show. She still attends Star Trek conventions, and she says that Jadzia is the best role she has ever been in because, as she says, Jadzia is a hero. Terry Farrell now has an asteroid named after her – 26734 Terryfarrell.

Grace Lee Whitney – Then

Grace Lee Whitney played the role of Yeoman Janice Rand in the show Star Trek: The Original Series. Although she was originally supposed to appear throughout the series, Whitney’s character was written out of the show after only eight episodes. However, she has maintained a strong relationship with the Star Trek community. In her autobiography, Whitney claims that she was subject to inappropriate behavior by a producer of the show, and that her complaining led to her being cut.

Grace Lee Whitney – Now

Grace Lee Whitney started acting in the Broadway play Top Banana. She then went on to star in the movie version of the play. After being let go from Star Trek: The Original Series, Whitney went on to reprise roles in hit television shows such as Bewitched, Batman, The Virginian, and even an episode of Diagnosis: Murder alongside George Takei. She even reprised her formal role in fan movies, and appeared in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Flashback.”

Nichelle Nichols – Then

Nichelle Nichols portrayed Uhura, the communications officer in the original Star Trek series. Nichols, an African-American woman, played a pivotal role on the show’s main plot lines in most episodes, operating and making decisions along with men, some of whom were caucasian. Gene Roddenberry, the show’s creator, had set intentions to create as much cultural diversity on the show as possible. As such, Uhura’s cultural identity was amplified and never hidden.

Nichelle Nichols – Now

Nichelle Nichols was brave to assume the role of an equal black woman on a hit TV-series in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, and has been celebrated for her courage and acting equally. She has said that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself was the one who encouraged her to take the part. After Star Trek – The Original Series went off the air, Nichols participated mainly in continuations of its branch, in various movies and video games. She is 84 years old as of 2017, and resides in California.

Nana Visitor – Then

Nana Visitor reprised the role of Kira Nerys on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Her character started out in the rank of Major before going on to become a Colonel. Kira Nerys was a rebel in the Bajoran Resistance, ultimately becoming a Bajoran Liaison Officer on a Starfleet ship. She would eventually rise to become a Starfleet commander. She was also one of the first to go into the mirror universe to meet her counterpart.

Nana Visitor – Now

After Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ended, Nana Visitor went on to reprise roles in shows such as Dark Angel, Frasier, Battlestar Galactica, and Family Guy. She also reprised a role in the musical Chicago. Visitor has been married three times, and has two children. Her youngest son, Django, was born in 1996. Because she was pregnant while filming Star Trek, the producers decided to include the pregnancy in the story line.

Roxann Dawson – Then

Roxann Dawson is perhaps best known for her role as Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres in Star Trek: Voyager. But on top of her role in the show itself, she also directed two of the episodes of the series. She would then go on to direct another 10 episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. The character B’Elanna Torres was a human-klingon hybrid. She originally served on a Maquis raider ship before being empressed into the Starfleet.

Roxann Dawson – Now

Before acting in Star Trek: Voyager, Roxann Dawson was an actor on Broadway. After Star Trek she became a director, directing episodes of The O.C., Lost, Cold Case, The Mentalist, and several other extremely popular television shows. She even directed episodes of The Americans and House of Cards! Dawson has been married twice. Her first husband went on to act in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and her current husband is a casting director. Dawson has two daughters; Emma and Mia.

Linda Park – Then

Linda Park is originally from Seoul, South Korea, but moved with her parents to San Jose, California with her parents when she was only a year old. Park reprised the role of communications officer Ensign Hoshi Sato in Star Trek: Enterprise. Ensign Sato began her career as a linguist, eventually moving up to become the ship’s communications officer. She even created a universal linguistics code which could be used should the universal translator not work.

Linda Park – Now

Linda Park’s first foray onto American screens was actually the big screen when she reprised the role of Ellie Sattler’s assistant on Jurassic Park III. On Star Trek she was picked by the producers to be a linguist due to the fact that she has a natural penchant for languages. In fact, she speaks Korean, English, and even French. Park continues to appear at Star Trek conventions and loves interacting with the fans.

Denise Crosby – Then

Denise Crosby played the role of Lieutenant Natasha “Tasha” Yar in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Although her character was discontinued after a couple of episodes of the first season, Crosby would show up later in the series as Sela, Tasha’s daughter from an alternate timeline. Before she dies, Tasha was the security officer for the USS Enterprise – D. She was essentially saved from a failed colony planet beset by poverty and crime when she came aboard the enterprise. It’s a shame her life was cut short.

Denise Crosby – Now

Denise Crosby began her acting career on the show Days of our Lives. She then went on to perform in dozens of famous television shows, including Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Baywatch, JAG, NYPD Blue, Law and Order: LA, and even The Walking Dead. Denise has been married twice, once to the Geoffrey Edwards (the son of famous director Blake Edwards), and then to Ken Sylk. Crosby has one child with Sylk, a son named August.

Marina Sirtis – Then

Marina Sirtis portrayed Deanna Troi on the New Generation reboot of Star Trek, the ship’s counselor. One of the most unique characters in the show, Troi played a half-human, half-betazoid, a species that allows her to feel others’ emotions. Sirtis’ portrayal of the empathetic and moving Troi was hailed by critics, and the was pivotal in the show, a constant consultant for the captain, and a tool for the show to explore and touch on a variety of human emotions.

Marina Sirtis – Now

Marina Sirtis is Greek-British, and another cast member who remained within the Star Trek branch after Next Generation went off the air. She starred in a variety of sequels to the show, including a film. Sirtis frequents “trekkie” (a self-made nickname for avid Star Trek fans) conventions often, and still appears in films and theater. She’s a passionate advocate for animal rights, and often speaks of her support of the English Tottenham football team — she even bares a tattoo with the team’s symbol on her back.

Jolene Blalock – Then

Jolene Blalock is a self confessed Trekkie, so she was probably extremely excited when she got news that she would be playing the part of Vulcan science officer T’Pol in Star Trek: Enterprise. She actually did not like any of the Star Trek spin off shows, and even rejected being T’Pol initially. However, once her agent showed her the script of the episode Broken Arrow, Blalock fell in love with the character and agreed to act in the show.

Jolene Blalock – Now

Jolene continued to act after her role in Star Trek: Enterprise. She played a role in Starship Troopers 3: Marauder, and even had a small role in the show House. Blalock began her career as a model, but says that she was not an attractive or popular child at all, and says that “she doesn’t know what happened.” Today Blalock is married to the CEO of Live Nation, and she has three children with him.

Jeri Ryan – Then

Jeri Ryan starred in Star Trek: Voyager, in a very complex role. She portrayed Seven of Nine, a human captured by the show’s antagonist, the Borg Collective, and convinced she was a cyborg. Her storyline on the show touched on pivotal and sensitive issues, particularly to women, as Mulgrew’s character assisted her in overcoming what was in fact Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Seven of Nine was a huge favorite among fans, and Ryan rose to stardom due to her role.

Jeri Ryan – Now

Jeri Ryan developed a successful career after Voyager went off the air in 2001. She starred in the legal drama Boston Public and currently stars in a drama entitled Bosche. Ryan is as beloved by Star Trek fans as her character was; despite her steady Hollywood presence, she remains loyal to her fans and attends conventions regularly. Ryan married member of the Republican party Jack Ryan, by they divorced in 1999. She moved to France and married chef Christophe Eme in 2007. She has two children.

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