Mulgrew is the guest star at tomorrow's San Diego Creation Star Trek and Sci-Fi Media Convention at the Community Concourse, downtown.
"Star Trek: Voyager," the fourth installment in creator Gene Roddenberry's science fiction TV universe, is fledgling network UPN's most successful show. As "Voyager" begins its third season, the helm remains under the competent command of Capt. Janeway, "Star Trek's" first leading female captain:
Question: Is it a challenge living up to the legend of "Star Trek" and its captains?
Answer: I do find it a challenge, but it's a delightful challenge, even a delicious challenge. There's no question I'm having more fun this season than I have in previous seasons.
Q. Were there any special challenges for you considering Janeway is the first female captain for the series?
A. Oh, of course. So much of it was about gender in the beginning, and the controversy about it. I had to transcend my own gender. You try that one on. So it was my job, in the first two seasons most especially, to reassure (viewers) that this is a job about authority and command that my anatomy would in no way jeopardize. My intentions are to run the damn ship, you know? Hell or high water, without losing myself. And the audience is so sharp about that. Nobody wants a pseudo acting job here. They want Janeway to be Janeway, quintessentially Janeway.
Q. Does Janeway connect with her young female viewers, and what does she say to them?
A. I think most extraordinarily that's the audience that is most provoked and compelled by Janeway, because she's a role model for them. Heretofore we've seen very little of that in prime-time television without the cultural obstacles of sex discrimination or victimization or some sort of problem evolving. And none of that is present (on ""Voyager"). She's a free agent. She stands for herself alone, and in that way she stands for something that I think young women can look to with a kind of feeling of liberation that they've probably not experienced before. This is not a captain who's going to drop her drawers, or snivel or grovel or worry about what she's done. It's a huge responsibility. There's a real looking up to Janeway. I'm often told pretty remarkable things like, "I switched my major from English to physics. I'm now on my way to MIT because of Janeway." That can grab you by the throat. So I better give them a Janeway worth her salt.
Q. What are your personal enjoyments, and do they suffer or get neglected?
A. The greatest neglect here, the greatest sacrifice, is intimacy. And by that I mean I have four or five really profound friendships which have had to take a back seat. And this makes me very sad because these friendships nourish me. But alternatively, the work feeds me to such an extent that I still have a sense of well-being about it all. And I'm sorry to miss my own repose. I'm very gregarious at work and I'm very passionate about acting, but my flip side is solitary. I enjoy reading, not to the extent of reclusion, but I certainly enjoy my solitary pleasures. Reading . . . thinking . . . I haven't been to Mass in a while, which is a very bad thing for me. But mostly the books, you know?
Q. What do you still want to accomplish in your life, personally and professionally?
A. Personally, I don't think the votes are in on my child-raising abilities. I'd like to see the fruit of a good relationship with my sons. I'd like to see my sons become kind, and deep, and fine men, generous men. I'd like to see my own self become more selfless, to remember that it's all a one-way trip and that I've been given a shot at this terrific mystery, to try to respect it as a mystery. To love someone else deeply, I think, as unconditionally as possible, would be the greatest priority. And second to that, I'd like to get back to the theater. There are many roles which challenge me in the theater. And I'd like to have a wise and gracious and rather quiet old age.
Q. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
A. I'm not a feminist. I don't like to be placed in boxes. (But) I am strong. I think my strength is born out of my originality. It's an extraordinary gift to be born a woman, to have the privilege of childbirth, magnanimity of self. We can't dismiss these great things in our battle to become equal. We must never be like men. We must just be ourselves. And greatness will out.
Q. How do you feel about your life right now?
A. I'm in a position of terrific happiness in my life right now. I'm very aware of this plane of happiness. This is a task of no small measure. In the very fact that it is passing, I can recognize a kind of bliss.
Q. Do you think it will end?
A. It must end. It must change. Change is the only absolute. I've always loved life, but it's never been this blissful.