Genevieve Nylen , Madeline Des Jardins (Maddie for short), and Alexandria Nylen are not your typical Star Trek fans. Having grown up in an era well outside the 60’s debut of Star Trek: The Original Series, these young ladies not only have love for the new Star Trek (2009) and the sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, but a unique reverie for the classic Kirk, Spock and McCoy. While looking striking in their classic series cosplay, these ladies also take their fandom seriously, from claiming to form their own official crew, to teaching a student accredited course at a prestigious university on, you guessed it, Star Trek.
We first caught up with these ladies back in 2009, and they were some of the first to view the upcoming Anovos line of Star Trek The Movie tunics. Their bubbly cheer and good nature sparked conversation and they were one of the first to be pictured with the upcoming replica costumes. Fast forward to 2013 Anaheim Wondercon, these ladies were once again spotted at the Anovos Booth, but this time fully decked out in the Anovos Star Trek outfits ranging from Star Trek: The Original Series to the new movie. Catching up with them again led to a more in-depth discussion about their fandom and how it has shaped them, not only in the past three and a half years, but also through their childhood. It is not difficult to ascertain, but these young woman are just that, young relative to The Original Series, and – in this interview with Genevieve and Maddie -- they prove the timelessness of the Star Trek franchise:
How did you get into TOS? What was your influence ?
Genevieve: TOS has always been a large part of my life. I remember sitting in front of the TV as a small child, admiring my parents’ VHS box set with the Enterprise printed on the front, meticulously examining the poster art on each tape and wondering what this Star Trek thing was about. I’d ask my parents and they explained a little, they’re movies grownups like you know, and then put on Pinocchio for me. It only served to fuel my curiosity.
Finally, when I was about six, my mom let my sister Alexandria and me watch The Wrath of Khan. It was a rite of passage, a departure from the cartoons of Nickelodeon and Disney into a world of entertainment that my parents loved. The mystery of the space-themed box set was about to be revealed. On the outside, I feigned stoicism. On the inside, I was ecstatic.
The Wrath of Khan was the first time I ever cried in a movie. It was the first time I recognized the importance of sacrifice and the strength of friendship. As a child, I’m sure the realization was internal and not yet fully realized. It was a seed (a “Space Seed”) that would later grow with multiple viewings of the movies and TV episodes. If one thing was for certain, I fell in love with TOS that day. For the record, whenever I watch Wrath of Khan I still cry every time.
Maddie: My dad sat me down one day and said “This is the first Star Trek episode I ever saw. It will be yours, too,” and he put in “The Trouble with Tribbles.” It was all a mission to explore strange new worlds from there. Generationally he grew up with it and passed it on to his daughter, but I’m the one who convinced him to go to his first Star Trek convention, where he ended up dressing as the Gorn and entering the costume contest with me in my Starfleet uniform. So I think it goes both ways, now, which is wonderful!
Are you diehards or casual Trekkies?
Genevieve: I am a TOS fan for life. A true diehard. When I think about it, there is no other answer any of us could possibly give.
Maddie: Definitely diehards. I’ve gotten to the point where I can name episode titles, I’ve got all the TOS replicas I can get my hands on, an Anovos Starfleet uniform (Science blue, of course, because although I’m terrible at math my dream Star Trek self is a fabulous scientist who works with Mr. Spock), and old vintage posters. I’m also proud to say I have signed photos of all the living members of the original Enterprise crew, which I’ve gotten at Star Trek conventions. They’re all fabulous people and I was honored to meet them – seeing what Nichelle Nichols has done for the civil rights movement, what George Takei is doing right now, Leonard Nimoy’s charity work – the cast is full of activists who engage in their societies, and that is something which is very important to me. Star Trek is about human (and non-human) understanding, about appreciating differences and coming together to build a better future free of prejudices and centered around promoting knowledge, progress, and goodwill. That is a message that was hugely important to the culture of the 60’s, and is hugely important today. I think it always will be, and that’s why Star Trek will always be such a culture-defining show which lives on in so many ways today, more than just in J.J. Abrams’ wonderful new films.
Does Star Trek come into your daily life in some way?
Genevieve: Of course Star Trek comes into my daily life! Besides all the fan gear, I have a crew of my very own! I love Kirk; I’ve always felt the biggest connection to him as a character. He’s bold, good humored and tenacious. So in our trio I’m the captain. Maddie is pragmatic, knows the true meaning of friendship and loves Spock, so she’s our first officer. Being very brassy and honest, Alexandria’s favorite is Bones. She is without a doubt our chief medical officer. These girls are my crew. They stand by my side through thick and thin and I am honored to be a part of this golden trio. They have been and always will be my friends. LLP.
Maddie: I think those messages of love and acceptance and teamwork are parts of Star Trek that come into everyday life, not to mention the scientific advancements we’ve received because of the show (communicators became cell phones, after all!). But I think all Trekkies make Star Trek daily life! There are so many fun things to wear or do that are Star Trek-related, and there are always conventions and other ways to meet fellow Trekkies. Personally, I was able to take my love for this “Wagon Train to the Stars” a step further – I was fortunate enough to study at UC Berkeley, where students are able to have student-directed courses called ‘DeCals.’ You create a course, a syllabus, and a reading list, get a professor to sponsor the class, and then teach it yourself – it was a great learning experience and more than that it allowed me to teach “Star Trek: Where No Course Has Gone Before!” We had so much fun, watching episodes and discussing major themes like emotion, humanity, race, gender, religion, and so much more.
Star Trek is so full of moral dilemmas, unanswered questions, and rich topics of discussion; it was a real pleasure to teach the course and talk Trek with seasoned fans and brand new ones. We created a few Trekkies throughout the semester-long course, and it was the perfect way to complete my time at UC Berkeley, which we all fondly call ‘Starfleet Academy’ since it’s so close to where the academy is supposed to be near San Francisco.
I like to think when I watch television, and for all its Styrofoam rocks and ridiculous fight scenes (although who doesn’t love “Ripped Shirt Kirk”??), Star Trek is one of those incredible works which not only explores serious questions with its characters, but demands that the viewer take part in the discussion and think them through on their own. That is something which knows no generational boundaries; something which endures. Star Trek was a television show which went boldy in a time when no other show before it had, and nearly 50 years later Star Trek is still innovating and questioning our world and what we can do to make it a better one.