Jennifer Lien is doing fine and leading her life her way. That’s the gist of a 20-minute conversation with Lien, who played the Ocampan character Kes – sweet-natured girlfriend of Neelix (Ethan Phillips) -- on Star Trek: Voyager for the show’s first three seasons, then departed, only to pull away from the limelight pretty much for good. This past weekend, Lien reunited with most of her fellow Voyager co-stars on stage and during several special events at Creation’s 2010 Official Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. Startrek.com sat down with Lien in the middle of her time in Las Vegas, and here’s some of what she had to say:
How did you enjoy being together again with your co-stars?
That was the most important thing. It was great to see everyone again and feel that way again. It jus felt good. They’re all great people and that’s something that will never happen again to me, being with that sort of group of people. That was truly incredible and special for me.
Had you kept in touch with them?
Opportunities like this are my best chance to catch up with everyone. I have kids, I study, and I’m active with a life that doesn’t involve acting anymore. So it’s not easy to stay in touch.
How easy or hard was it to say, “I really don’t want to act anymore”?
It was pretty easy. It was actually becoming something that didn’t fit into my life anymore. I still love acting, but I don’t like that life anymore. I can’t.
Have you watched Voyager with your family?
My son likes Star Wars. He doesn’t really watch me on Star Trek and I don’t like watching myself. So we never watch Star Trek. Maybe he watches episodes of it when I’m not around or with someone else.
You left Voyager after the first couple of episodes of the fourth season (after her contract was not renewed and Jeri Ryan came on board as Seven of Nine). How do you look back on your time with the show?
I had a good time. It went on after I left and continued, but my time was great. I have no complaints. I have no regrets. Everything worked out the way it should have. Everything happens for a reason. So I don’t look back and say it should have been like this or it should have been like that. I’m perfectly at peace and content with my life. I don’t live in the past and I don’t wish anything were different.
You basically had two exit episodes, “The Gift,” the second episode of season four, and “Fury,” which you returned to the set to do in season six. Which did you prefer as Kes’s swan song?
“The Gift,” probably. I didn’t think “Fury” was acted as well as “The Gift.” There were a lot of poor acting choices on my part. I wasn’t really thinking as creatively as I could have with my acting choices. So I’m not really proud of that one, but I was very grateful that they asked me back and that I got to see everyone I’d worked with. But I hadn’t been acting for such a long time and to pick up with a character I hadn’t been with, and to try to have continuity with a character who was so different from what I’d played and to act so out of character – with the other characters, who had developed so much (in her absence) – it was hard. But everyone did their best to work with me.
What are you up to these days?
I’m taking college courses and trying to keep my mind busy and stay healthy physically and mentally. I’m trying to take care of my kids. I also have three dogs. I have a chow mix, I have a beagle mix and the other one is a Lhasa Apso.
What are you studying?
I’m going into health. I was thinking about being a nurse. I don’t know if I still want to be a nurse or maybe go into being a dietician or nutritionist. If I’m a nurse I won’t be able to spend as much time with my family as I want to. So I’m working on my associate’s degree right now.
When people recognize you on the street and especially when they talk to you at conventions, what is the single most common question you get about Voyager? And what’s the answer?
How was the makeup? I think that is it. Everybody asks how long my makeup took. It was two and a half or three hours.