What Star Trek Means to Me
Growing up, I used to watch Star Trek; this is before it was called “TOS” (i.e., “The Original Series“) because it was the only Star Trek show on television.
The idea of a future in space was so amazing. Many of the stories gave me hope that there was a future out there for everyone. No matter who you were, where you came from or even the disabilities one might have, everyone could exist in the world of Star Trek. It sent a message that all beings should be treated equally.
I was so inspired by this show that I would memorize the episodes’ names and dialogue. In 1973, I went to the second-held Star Trek convention, in New York City.
I entered the trivia contest and came in third!
And for the second time, convention visitors could meet the stars of Star Trek and have their pictures taken with them. George Takei was a guest at the convention, and as a result, I had an opportunity to meet him there.
In 1975, I left Saranac Lake, New York and traveled 3,000 miles to Los Angeles, California, to pursue my dream to become a stuntwoman in the entertainment business. I still would watch Star Trek reruns on television. I even got to go to Caltech and watch the original pilot, “The Cage”, on a movie screen.
In 1979, Paramount filmed Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Even though I did not work on it, my fellow stuntman friend Tom Morga was hired to double Spock, play one of the Klingons and was a maintenance man that does a flip in front of the Enterprise, while the ship is in “drydock”. I used to visit him on the set.
I did return to Saranac Lake in the late 1980s, so I missed being able to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I did return to Los Angeles in the 1990s; that is when I got called to work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I had worked on the Paramount lot many times before (it was just one of the many studios that I worked at), but that day as I walked to the set, knowing I was about to become part of the world of Star Trek was a feeling that is impossible to put into words.
I continued to work on DS9 regularly as a stuntwoman, either playing myself, stunt doubling an actress, safetying a fellow stuntperson and finally becoming an assistant stunt coordinator to Stunt Coordinator Dennis Madalone. As a stunt coordinator, I would break down scripts for the stunts needed per episode, go to production meetings or be on the set, where I’d be protecting both the cast and crew.
When they started filming Star Trek: Voyager, I was B’Elanna Torres’ stunt double, I also played myself and stunt doubled other actresses in other episodes.
Star Trek has been a major part of my life. I got to live the dream and it is such an honor to be part of the world of Star Trek.
(Top image: John Adams/Phoenix Photography; Other images: Leslie Hoffman)