To Boldly Go: The Women of "Star Trek"

by IMDb-Editors | last updated - 24 Oct 2017

"Star Trek" continues to break barriers, putting women at the center of the story in "Star Trek: Discovery." Let's salute the women who have helped the Federation achieve its mission. — Pam Keesey

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Nichelle Nichols and Sonequa Martin-Green at an event for Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

From the beginning, "Star Trek" (1966) has embraced diversity, multi-culturalism, and inclusion, breaking barriers and making television history. Sonequa Martin-Green steps into the role of Michael Burnham, the central character of "Star Trek: Discovery" (2017), and the first African American woman in a leading role in the "Star Trek" universe.

Women have played key roles throughout the "Star Trek" franchise on TV. Let's take a look at the women of "Star Trek" throughout the years.

Nichelle Nichols in Star Trek (1966)

Nichelle Nichols made history as Communications Officer Lieutenant Nyota Uhura in the original "Star Trek." Fourth in command of the Starship Enterprise, Nichols is remembered not only for her portrayal of Lt. Uhura, but also as a pioneer as an African American woman on television and groundbreaking as an African American character in space.

One of her biggest fans, Dr. Martin Luther King, praised her as a positive media role model for all African Americans, a compliment that inspired her to continue working on the show. Nichols was hired by NASA and, from the late 1970s until 1987, she recruited minority candidates for the space program. Dr. Mae C. Jemison, a big fan of the show, was inspired by Nichols to become an astronaut herself, and later made a guest appearance on in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987).

Majel Barrett in Star Trek: The Cage (1986)

Majel Barrett first appeared as the First Officer of the USS Enterprise in "The Cage," the pilot episode "Star Trek." When the show was picked up, she portrayed Nurse Christine Chapel. Nurse Chapel, who joined the Enterprise while en route to another destination, gave up her career as a doctor of biology and her rank as Commander in order to serve on the Enterprise.

Barrett went on to appear in additional "Star Trek" TV spin-offs and movies, including Counselor Deanna Troi's mother, Lwaxana, in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." She's also credited as the voice of the onboard computer throughout numerous episodes and many iterations of the show.

Grace Lee Whitney in Star Trek (1966)

A successful actress and singer, Grace Lee Whitney began her Starfleet career on "Star Trek" as Yeoman Janice Rand. Rand was encouraged by Captain Kirk to go back to school so that she could be make something of herself beyond a "Captian's clerk." Rand eventually left the Enterprise and studied to become a ship's navigator. Whitney (as Rand) returned in several "Star Trek" movies and spin-offs, her character's profession evolving as a reflection of her continuing education.

Marina Sirtis in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

As Counselor Deanna Troi, Marina Sirtis was responsible for the mental health and well-being of the crew of the Enterprise-D on "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Along with Jonathan Frakes, Armin Shimerman, John de Lancie, Michael Ansara, Richard Poe, and Mark Allen Shepherd, Sirtis is one of only seven actors to play the same character on three different "Star Trek" series and the only woman to do so. In addition to "Star Trek: The Next Generation," she also played Deanna Troi in "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995) and "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001).

Gates McFadden in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Gates McFadden played Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Crusher joins the Starfleet crew with her precocious son, Wesley (Wil Wheaton). A talented physician, Crusher goes on to become the head of Starfleet Medical for a short time before returning to the Enterprise.

In addition to her role in front of the camera, McFadden also worked behind the camera as the director of the episode entitled "Genesis."

Denise Crosby in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Denise Crosby joined the cast as the tough-as-nails security officer Lieutenant Tasha Yar in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Her career aboard the Enterprise-D was short lived, as Crosby left the show in 1988 and her character written out of the show. She returned in 1990 to appear in the "Yesterday's Enterprise" episode and again in 1994 in "All Good Things...."

Despite an early departure from the show due to artistic differences, Crosby has embraced and is embraced by Trek fandom, including her work as a presenter for and co-exectuive producer on Trekkies (1997) and Trekkies 2 (2004).

Whoopi Goldberg in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

When Whoopi Goldberg heard that a new "Star Trek" series was being cast, she approached Gene Roddenberry and Rick Berman, telling them that she wanted to be a part of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." They asked her why she wanted so badly to be a part of the show, and she said that the original "Star Trek" was an inspiration to her. "When I was a little girl, it was like, 'Oh, we are in the future,'" she said. "Uhura did that for me. So I want to be on your show."

Goldberg became Guinan, the mysterious bartender who ran Ten Forward, the lounge aboard the USS Enterprise-D, a role she reprised in Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: Nemesis.

Michelle Forbes in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Michelle Forbes played Ro Laren, a Bajoran ensign who serves aboard the USS Enterprise-D in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Forbes got the role of Ro Laren after impressing the producers when she appeared as Dara, the daughter of Kaelon scientist Doctor Timicin (played by David Ogden Stiers). The Bajorans were an oppressed race, a result of the long ago occupation of the planet Bajor by the Cardassians. Ro Laren eventually leaves the Enterprise-D to join the Bajoran Resistance.

Forbes was offered a role in the follow up series, "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," but declined the offer so that she could pursue other projects.

Diana Muldaur in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Diana Muldaur is a successful television actress, having appeared in many iconic American TV shows throughout the years, including "Bonanza," "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," "Mannix," "Mod Squad," and "Hawaii Five-O," among others.

Although most well known in Trek lore as Dr. Katherine Pulaski in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Muldaur also played two different physicians in the original "Star Trek" series: she played Dr. Ann Mullhall in "Return to Tomorrow" and Dr. Miranda Jones in "Is There in Truth No Beauty?"

Patti Yasutake in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Patti Yasutake appeared "Star Trek: The Next Generation" as Nurse Alyssa Ogawa, a regular presence in Sick Bay aboard both the Enterprise-D and the Enterprise-E.

She once told actor George Takei, who played Sulu in the original "Star Trek," that Ogawa was Sulu's great-granddaughter. "Not too great, please," he said. "I'm not that old!"

Rosalind Chao in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

As Keiko O'Brien, Rosalind Chao played one of the civilians aboard the Enterprise in both "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." O'Brien is a botanist who later becomes a school teacher, and is married to Transporter Chief Miles O'Brien (Colm Meany).

Chao has said she's been struck by how loyal and how invested "Star Trek" fans are in the characters they love. "The fans will notice me on the street and ask me questions about Keiko's personal relationships, especially the female fans. They're very concerned, because they want her to maintain her career."

Nana Visitor at an event for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

When Michelle Forbes declined to join the cast of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" as the Bojoran Ro Laren, a new Bajoran character was written into the show. Nana Visitor became Kyra Nerys, the Bajoran liaison officer on the space station Deep Space 9.

In addition to her work on television and in the movies, Visitor is a regular on Broadway, including roles in "Gypsy" and "Chicago."

Terry Farrell in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

Jadzia Dax, played by Terry Farrell, was the eighth host to the symbiont Dax. Jadzia was Trill, and the Trill and the Dax historically had a symbiotic relationship. One had to apply to become a symbiotic host to Dax. Each joining of Dax with a host created a new, unique individual, but each individual also carried the memories of the previous hosts.

When she joined "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Farrell was no stranger to sci-fi television. She also had roles in "The Twilight Zone," "Quantum Leap," and "Red Dwarf," among others, before joining the cast of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

Nicole de Boer in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

After Terry Farrell left "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Nicole de Boer came on board as Ezri Dax, the ninth host to the symbiont Dax.

After leaving the show, de Boer continued to have opportunities to work with members of the "Star Trek" cast and crew, including working on "The Dead Zone" with Michael Piller (who also co-created "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and "Star Trek: Voyager") and fellow Trek alum David Ogden Stiers.

Penny Johnson Jerald in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993)

Penny Johnson Jerald played Kasidy Yates (later Kasidy Yates-Sisko) on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." A captain in her own right, Yates-Sisko founded Kasidy Yates Interstellar Freights and piloted the freighter ship Xhosa before settling down on the space station Deep Space Nine and transporting freight for the Bajoran Ministry of Commerce.

In addition to her foray into space with "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Johnson Jerald plays Dr. Claire Finn on the television sci-fi comedy, "The Orville."

Susan Gibney in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Susan Gibney played two different characters in "Star Trek." She played Doctor Leah Brahms in both human and holographic form in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." She also appeared in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" as Captain Erika Benteen.

She auditioned twice for the role of Captain Kathryn Janeway in "Star Trek: Voyager", but the producers thought she was too young to be a Starfleet captain, and she lost the role to Kate Mulgrew.

Kate Mulgrew in Star Trek: Voyager (1995)

Kate Mulgrew slipped into the Captain's chair as Captain Kathryn Janeway in "Star Trek: Voyager" when Geneviève Bujold decided to leave the show.

When asked what she liked best about her time on the show, Mulgrew said, "The best thing was simply the privilege and the challenge of being able to take a shot at the first female captain, transcending stereotypes that I was very familiar with. [I was] able to do that in front of millions of viewers. That was a remarkable experience -- and it continues to resonate."

Roxann Dawson in Star Trek: Voyager (1995)

Roxann Dawson appeared as the half human, half Klingon B'Elanna Torres in "Star Trek: Voyager." After earning Captain Janeway's trust, Torres became Chief Engineer on board Voyager.

Now a writer and director, Dawson made her directorial debut on "Star Trek: Voyager." She has also directed episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise," "House of Cards," and "The Deuce," among others.

Jeri Ryan in Star Trek: Voyager (1995)

Jeri Ryan played the human and former Borg drone Seven of Nine on "Star Trek: Voyager." Assimilated by the Borg at the age of six, Seven of Nine joined the crew of the Voyager after her link to the Collective was severed. Seven, as she came to be known, was a key member of the Voyager's engineering team.

Ryan has said that one of the best parts about playing Seven is being able to portray a character as she's exploring her own burgeoning humanity.

Jolene Blalock in Star Trek: Enterprise (2001)

Jolene Blalock is best know for her role as the Vulcan Sub-Commander T'Pol on "Star Trek: Enterprise." T'Pol is the first Vulcan officer to serve an extended term on a human vessel, and later accepts a Starfleet field commission, after which she is granted the rank of Commander.

Although a vocal critic of the writing and the storylines, Blalock was a big fan of the original "Star Trek" and has described her role on "Star Trek: Enterprise" as her biggest break and "a dream come true."

Linda Park in Star Trek: Enterprise (2001)

Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) is the communications officer in "Star Trek: Enterprise." Sato speaks more than 40 languages, including Klingon, and is an expert in the use of the Universal Translator.

Park was just 23 when "Star Trek: Enterprise" started filming. Her character, and introvert by nature, spent much of her time on-screen on her own. Her favorite episodes are "In a Mirror, Darkly: Part 1" and "In a Mirror, Darkly: Part 2," in part because she got to engage with the rest of the cast a lot more than usual.

Michelle Yeoh in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

International superstar Michelle Yeoh plays Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou in "Star Trek: Discovery." Famous for doing her own stunts, Yeoh is an icon of Hong Kong martial arts movies, one of the most famous being Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yeoh's says she never gave much though to representation, but realizes that seeing her -- an Asian woman -- portray the Commander of a Starship. "I understand when I’m sitting in that chair and I’m coming across as an Asian woman captain, it means so much to women of Asian descent everywhere around the world."

Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

Fresh off her stint as in "The Walking Dead," Sonequa Martin-Green joined "Star Trek: Discovery" as First Officer Michael Burnham. Orphaned as a child, she was raised by on the planet Vulcan by Spock's parents. After serving with Captain Georgiou on the starship Shenzhou, Officer Burnham goes on to serve on the USS Discovery. Martin-Green's character marks the first time that the "Star Trek" narrative has centered around a female protagonist.

Martin-Green has said that the thing she wanted the most after she landed the role was to meet Nichelle Nichols. Upon meeting, Nichols said to Martin-Green, "Enjoy this moment. It’s yours now."