It was 30 years last week that the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “When the Bough Breaks” premiered. February 15, 1988. To put that in perspective, the four-year-old twins – Jessica and Vanessa Bova -- who shared the role of Alexandra, the youngest of the children kidnapped from the Enterprise, are now 34 years old with kids of their own. To mark the anniversary of the first-season episode, StarTrek.com invited the Bova sisters to interview each other about their Trek experience, what it’s like all these years later to still have Trek in their lives, and what they’re each up to now. Here’s what they had to say:
Vanessa: How did we land our Star Trek role?
Jessica: We went on an audition and got a call back. Our agent at the time was Harry Gold. I remember my mom telling me we got this part and the name was Alexandria, which I, being a four-year-old, had never heard that name before. I thought it was pretty cool and exotic, and it was very, very exciting.
Jessica: Vanessa, what do you remember most vividly about the experience?
Vanessa: Funny enough, one of the things I remember most was the costume that we wore because it was like papier Mache. It was a beautiful color and I remember the makeup artist doing just a little bit of foundation on my nose and the smell of it. I had a very close relationship with Wil Wheaton and Patrick Stewart, and I loved to have them carry me around the set. It was also really nice filming with somebody that we were close to, even though it had been such a short time.
Vanessa: And you?
Jessica: I can remember the smell of the set. The acting studio that I’m in now, it has that same smell. Sets all have the same smell. I can't, it's almost like a woody smell. It's fabulous. I remember there was a donut guy in the morning. We’d get there before it was even light outside. Everybody was so nice and I guess we were pretty funny kids. And we had a really, really good time.
Vanessa: There's something else I remember… the little white stuffed animal they gave to us…
Jessica: Oh yeah.
Vanessa: ... To carry around while filming, and we carried it on and off set as well. The last scene, when I go to give Captain Picard a hug and tell him ‘Thank you,’ I stuff the stuffed animal on his back. I wasn't supposed to do that and everyone starting laughing -- and they actually kept it in the scene. So, that was something else that stuck with me.
Jessica: I remember they kept making you do that take because you would place your head down and you kept turning it the wrong way...
Vanessa: They wanted me to face the camera when I hugged Patrick Stewart and, for some reason, I kept facing the other way. I mean, I was four.
Jessica: No, you did great.
Jessica: Vanessa, how did you like working with Brenda Strong (who played Rashella, the Aldean kindnapper)
Vanessa: Brenda was amazing. She was so kind and sweet and-
Jessica: Everybody really was.
Vanessa: Everybody was, but she was especially drawn to us and mostly to you, Jessica, because you did most of your scenes with her…
Jessica: I did.
Vanessa: I remember watching Desperate Housewives and seeing Brenda, and I was so excited for her because when we knew her, she was just another actress trying to make a name for herself. Boy, did she.
Vanessa: And you?
Jessica: I remember her being kind. There was a scene where she had to hold me and calm me down, and she really made you feel like that was actually happening. She was just so soothing and kind. When I see her now on little things here or there, and especially Desperate Housewives, we have a lot of family that was really into that show, and you almost feel like a sense of pride. It’s that, “Oh, you know, no big deal, that was just my mom.”
Jessica: Vanessa, when was the last time you saw the episode, and what’s it like to see yourself frozen in time…
Vanessa: ... As a four-year-old? The last time I saw the episode was a month ago. It's on Netflix, so every once in a while, a friend will come over and say, “Hey, can we watch the episode of Star Trek with you in it?” I'm like, “Sure.” Or, whenever I'm watching TV and I scroll through the guide and I see Star Trek is playing, I always click on it to see what season it is, if it's our episode, and a lot of the times, our episode will pop up, which is really cool.
Jessica: Well, they play reruns every day, weekdays, so I will always look to see if it's our season. It's very, very interesting to see us as little girls. I always imagine that our kids, when they're old enough, they will look like that, so…
Vanessa: And watch our show. Whenever I see the episode, it makes me happy because it was a really, really fun experience that I’ll always remember.
Jessica: And, we were cute. Our kids are not old enough to have watched it yet. I mean, your little boy is only one.
Vanessa: Eleven months.
Jessica: Well, he'll be one this month, so we’ve not had them watch mom yet, but our other family members get quite a big kick out of it.
Vanessa: For sure.
Jessica: How hard is it to believe that February 15th was 30 years since the episode debuted?
Vanessa: It’s actually really hard to believe because it doesn't seem that long ago. Because I have such vivid memories of it, it seems like it was only yesterday, but it’s pretty cool and amazing that that was 30 years ago. So much has happened since then, and we're still talking about it today.
Jessica: I don't think it seems like 30 years ago, either. I thought we were older, honestly, when we filmed that episode. We would’ve been four. I thought we were six.
Jessica: Let’s tell everyone what we did after Star Trek and what we’re doing now…
Vanessa: We both did a lot of commercials. A lot of acting stuff, theater…
Jessica: A couple of PSAs. I went to acting school. Vanessa went to music school.
Vanessa: I studied music in college and trained in opera for 10 years. Then, I started working with several different bands.
Jessica: We both went to high school, eventually, and then to college. I studied psychology, but I never gave up on my acting. Sometimes you put things on the back burner. We both got married, started families. I'm currently back in acting school. I like it very much.
Vanessa: I'm still singing. I'm working with a band right now…
Jessica: And, we did a commercial, as twins, a Geico commercial. I think it only aired on the east coast. It had to have been four years ago now. It seems like yesterday. So, that was the last thing we did together.
Vanessa: That was fun.
Jessica: We do plan to start submitting twin things again.
Vanessa: Redheaded twins, I guess, are not really very common.
Jessica: We both live in the L.A. area, in Pasadena.
Vanessa: Jessica, what does it mean to be even a small part of something so iconic and long-lasting as Star Trek?
Jessica: I didn't realize that we were popular until Facebook became a thing and I’d get messages from people saying, “I don't mean to bother you, but I'm such a fan. Are you the little girl from Star Trek?” And, it would never bother me…
Vanessa: I’d get the same thing. Maybe several times a year, people would contact me on Facebook and say, “Are you Vanessa Bova, Jessica Bova's twin? Were you the one on Star Trek? I love your episode. My kids watch your episode.” It's just, it's really, really interesting.
Jessica: I try to answer all of them. We recently were contacted about going to a Star Trek convention later this year and we're going to be at the Hollywood Show in April. I don't know why we haven't been doing that the whole time. Star Trek fans are so cool. The whole experience was so cool.
Vanessa: Oh, yeah. People will send me photos of themselves at conventions with our trading card and say, “Can I have your autograph? Can you send it to me?”
Jessica: I actually don't know which one of us is on the card. When I watch the episode, the only way I can tell, “OK, this is me or this is Vanessa” in scenes is that I’ll remember a bit of having to film scenes. But not every scene do I know. Our mom just sent a picture of us on set so that we could share it with StarTrek.com. I had to say, “Well, wait a minute, which one…”
Vanessa: Which one is which? We really are identical. We even talk very, very similarly and yet, watching the episode, it's hard to remember which one is which because we also filmed a lot of scenes where we’d each do half and the other person would do the other half. But it's an honor to be a part of something like Star Trek, especially because now it's so well-known and a bigger and bigger thing.
Jessica: It's very encouraging. I can say that I have friends as far away as Germany that have contacted me because they recognize me from Star Trek. One guy, he's my good friend now. We talk at least once a month. We became friends because he contacted me on Facebook. He's around our age, a super-cool guy, big Trekkie, and it was he that made me realize how popular it was and that we’re pretty loved in the community. It feels great.
Vanessa: It's funny because when I mention to people that’ve known me for a while or people I just meet that we were on Star Trek, they'll ask what episode and I'll say it, and they'll say, “Oh, my gosh, that was you?” I didn't realize that it was such a community of people and such an important thing that people actually remembered the episode we were in. It's like they already know us because they've been watching us for years. Very, very cool.