Kate Mulgrew wooed a captivated audience in the Atrium Ballroom (M) Saturday afternoon with reminiscences of her decade-long role as Captain Kathryn Janeway in the series Star Trek: Voyager. Mulgrew created the role of the first woman Star Trek starship captain over Voyager’s seven and a half years on the air followed by a three-year encore in her one-woman show.
She said that her tenure as Janeway was the hardest decade of her life. As the third captain in the Star Trek franchise (she didn’t count the space station featured in Deep Space Nine, as “star ships fly”) and the “first girl,” she described a “sense of privilege, terror,” and a “new frontier,” paraphrasing what she called the “Star Trek mantra.”
“Just me and a lot of men, just the way I like it.” Mulgrew cautioned, “you don’t want to make me naughty; it never ends.”
After teasing—it’s a “bad day, a bad crowd; I’m in one of those moods”—Mulgrew complimented the assembled fans, asserting “these are Trekkers, the smartest audience in the world.” She stressed that there was no need for feminine wiles and romantic interests to establish Janeway as a leader. After some initial battles over her hair style and uniform, the producers left her “to her own devices” and “within two seasons the entire demographic shifted and broadened. You are the greatest audience in the world.”
She remembered giving “the best I could give” to Voyager: “certainly I tried [with] two little devils, I mean sons, at home.” She warned that you can’t give 24 hours to the job and 24 hours to your children. “You do your best and forgive yourself. It’s diabolical.” Throughout audience questions, she praised mothers who had raised sons, reflecting her own family life as a working mother.
Mulgrew said that she “loved science fiction” and “loved science, an exalted and different way of thinking.” Illustrating the development of Janeway’s character, she described experiencing “a deep sense [of] all species, genders, creeds, classes.” She understood her character’s “capacity to love and understand the leadership qualities within [her] own humanity.”
She mentioned one especially poignant moment, perhaps her finest as Janeway. Then-First-Lady Hilary Clinton invited Mulgrew to speak to women scientists at the White House. Looking out at their “eager, upturned genuine faces, intelligent and impassioned, [was the] single greatest honor [during her] tenure on Voyager.” She emphasized both the importance and the excitement of science throughout her remarks.
Playing a role she loved in Equus on Broadway together with Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame), Mulgrew stressed her love of theater. She described the play as a “timeless story [of] identity crisis.” She also recalled her early work on the popular soap opera Ryan’s Hope and her role as the wife of Columbo, in the popular television series starring Peter Falk in the title role.
Mulgrew’s Dragon*Con fans returned her praise with abundant expressions of gratitude, a framed collage, and one request to marry a gay couple. The star agreed, responding, “I’m a great proponent of equal rights for love.”
Mulgrew thanked the Georgia Chapter of the American Alzheimer’s Association, this year’s Dragon*Con charity. She called the cure for Alzheimer’s “my passion and my cause.” Immediately after the event, she joined fans donating blood at the convention’s Heinlein Blood Drive.