I interviewed one of the coolest ladies of Star Trek, the incomparable Terry Farrell, at Star Trek: Las Vegas 2015 and she had loads of great things to say on being true to yourself, how Dax made her stronger, and one of the coolest (coldest) travel stories I’ve ever heard. Read on!
Dax had lots of different friendships on DS9 – Sisko, Bashir, Kira – and this is sadly still rare of TV, for a female character to have diverse friendships. I wanted to get your opinion on why Trek can do this while others cannot – it is not easy and many shows struggle with avoiding the romance aspect for male/female friendships.
I don’t know exactly, but I think I took it for granted because it was just the way they wrote my character, that I had friendships. I was also focusing more on the fact that my character was so much older than everyone else, and then when I would have a reaction to others I would have to consider that I am 350 years old – or the symbiont was.
I guess its easy to think of someone who is many generations older than you as when you meet people who are ahead of their time, they might have a lot more compassion for you, empathy, sympathy for where you’re at.
It was great, as a young girl, to see Dax having these friendships where she wasn’t just the romantic interest. To me that was important, to see a woman doing that and being more. If Dax were written today how do you think she’d be different or the same?
I think I could portray her better, having lived more of life myself. I think the more life experience you have, the more you have to give. Going off your first question on Dax having a lot of friendships and relationships, that they wrote her very promiscuous, open and free in her sexuality. Like a man, which I think they did on purpose. If it were today, it could be pushed almost to a soft porn direction, like shows on Showtime and HBO are doing now. I think they would have taken advantage of her being that kind of character and what they could push on television to have her do. Because even Hannibal is on a normal network.
(AHH!) I blog Hannibal, I love it, I am so excited to interview Bryan Fuller.
It is almost like an art piece. It is disturbing though. (Mads appreciation ensued.)
What about Dax stayed with you?
Sticking up for myself. As a woman I think even with just the way our culture is, you have to fight to be heard. I definitely fell into that, where as a teenager your self esteem just tanks as a 13 year old, and gets pummelled. It’s amazing how much strength it takes to find your voice without screaming.
That is a truly excellent quote, and feels so true to me. It leads to another question, which is how women in media are demanding their worth, we’re all talking about the need for equal pay, needing more female producers and directors, looking at media to see if it passes the Bechdel test. What experiences with that, when you were in Hollywood, would you like to share?
When it first happens and you’re speaking up for yourself, I think a lot of the drive comes from how you’re afraid to speak out. So you can sound passive-aggressive, you build up anger, and you’re afraid to say how you’re feeling because you’re afraid how someone will react to you. At least for me, I would be afraid of how someone would react to me. And then, when you find your voice, and you trust that its going to be heard, then you can find a safe place, you can start that dialogue of sticking up for yourself before you get to the angry. It can feel really scary, and you can feel yourself being brave, but the more you do that, the more you practice that, the more your voice can come out and be heard. The more you feel your own strength, the more you find your own voice. You do have to learn it if you haven’t had it to begin with.
I feel like I experienced that when I fought for my negotiation on Star Trek and it didn’t work, but I fought for that and I’m glad I did.
I’m glad you did too, I really respect that you decided to walk away instead of bowing to the production team.
Time to switch it up! I also like to blog about travel, and I asked Nana her favorite places to visit and travel to, favorite cuisines, etc. What are your favorite travel experiences?
I like to try new cuisines. When I was 19, I was really fortunate enough to be invited to go on a GQ shoot, it was the first photoshoot done in the Arctic and we were 5 miles from the Arctic circle, in northeast Pangnirtung [note: this is in very northern Canada, on the east coast]. We got to eat caribou, because one of the sleds that was pulling us all in a boat broke down so they had to shoot a caribou and cook it for us on the spot.
And then I was in the background of a shot and I had frostbite up to my knees and elbows, and I got hypothermia. And Oribe (who now does Elizabeth Arden, he has his own line of hair products), was laughing his ass off, because it was crazy looking. I looked like I was waxy and dead on my hands and feet, and this old man was trying to bring my blood back, and that is why he was laughing at me.
Fashion – you said you were wearing Diane von Furstenberg, and I love her clothes. Any other brands you are into these days?
I am crazy in love with DvF and her dresses. They are the perfect thing for work, I don’t have to think about them, and they are comfortable and silk. Plus I loved her when I was a kid and there was no way I could have afforded her dresses back then, so I’m enjoying it right now.
What are your favorite TV shows right now?
I love Jimmy Fallon on Late Night, I love that he’s running with it and making it his own. I like the Celebrity Lip Sync Battle he does on there. As for shows, Hannibal is one of my favorites.
I LOVE THAT YOU LOVE HANNIBAL. [I was very excited you guys]
It is a great show! I like Penny Dreadful, I am not yet caught up but I love Eva Green, she’s such a good actress. She’s so possessed on that show, it’s amazing! I like Orange is the New Black, of course. House of Cards, Robin Wright is great on that show. I love Ray Donovan, and Denise (Crosby) is really amazing in that, and Liev Schreiber is outstanding in it as well. I want to see Transparent, I haven’t watched it yet but I heard it is fantastic.
I just moved into a new house so I’m looking to have more active time than TV time right now, I see that as a winter, hibernating activity. Monday is my absolute day off, when Max goes to school, it is like my Sunday. So I wave to him as he leaves for the bus and then I plop down and watch whatever is saved on my DVR.
That sounds great! What are you enjoying right now, any passion projects?
Getting my house together, that is a big thing for me right now. We have a year-old puppy, his name is Dr. Wily, from a video game Max likes. He’s very cute and energetic! Plus Max is starting middle school. Also, I moved from a house with an acre of property and now I’m on a third (of an acre) and I’ve been doing all my own yard work. I bought myself a lawn mower, the pushing kind. It’s a great workout.
What would you say to girls who grew up watching Dax, and saw her as a role model, now? As we navigate career, marriage, kids, all that.
It sounds like I need to have a profound moment here! Hmm. I think that living in the moment is important – for myself, I strive to live in the moment, challenge myself to be a better person, and challenge myself to be my authentic self. And hopefully, whenever I get the feeling that I’m a little scared to deal with something, that instead I think ‘that’s how being brave feels’ and that motivates me to deal with it and confront it. I’ve had a lot of practice this year.
Last fun question! Cake or pie?
Pie! Definitely! Because I make really good butter crust. It also depends on the cake, though. There’s that weird little spot, that special moment where the frosting has become one with the cake, and then there’s a perfect bite.
A huge thank you to Terry for being the badass that she is, passing along her feminist wisdom, and for loving Hannibal (we are obvs meant to be BFFs), which I assure you I did not plan. How are you celebrating Star Trek’s 49th birthday today? Tweet me @lightstar1013 and let me know!
Editor’s Note: Amy is super excited about the newly-announced DS9 documentary and encourages you to check out the crowdfunding page for the project. This interview was originally posted at Shoes and Starships.