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Female Frontiers QuestChat Forum Archive

Date: March 2, 1999

Featuring: Kate Mulgrew
Capt. Kathryn Janeway, "Star Trek: Voyager"
Paramount Studios, California

Listen to Kate's responses.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 17:13:49 ]
Thank you for submitting your questions for today's Female Frontiers chat forum with Kate Mulgrew. We hope to post Kate's responses within the coming days. Check the Female Frontiers events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/schedule.html for upcoming chats. Also check our schedule of events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events to learn about upcoming chats with NASA experts. We hope to hear from you online!

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 4 - 15:21:38 ]
RE: [Cindy] I've been a fan of your's since "Ryan's Hope" and a fan of Star Trek since the beginning. With the new shows, the "techno-babble" seems daunting, and I think the writers must try to out-do themselves. How have you been able to adapt the technological terms to make them sound acceptable? And not trip up your tongue?
I was blesses with a rather articulate tongue, as you put it. I've done a lot of series in which I've had to use a lot of difficult language, like medical series. I think that my stage background has also been helpful to me in this regard. I consider language and the verbal use of it a wonderful challenge. To me, it's like music -- there's a rhythm to it and there's a calisthenic to it, which I try to employ. Certainly, it helps to understand or have made up and understanding of the "techno-babble," which I now consider to be rather charming and extremely unique to Janeway. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 7 - 15:31:52 ]
RE: [Daphne] Have you learned any scientific knowledge from working on star trek? If so what kind?
I think this relates itself to the "technobabble," and how that has been an education for me. When we say that Janeway has a particular fondness for quantum mechanics or quantum theory, I felt it incumbent upon myself to understand what Einstein's Theory of Relativity is -- what, in fact, would inspire this ardent devotion to science in this woman who is, first and foremost, a physicist. So, I have gained a significant amount of knowledge from working on Star Trek. It certainly has piqued my interest in what is going on at NASA and in the rest of the world. Whereas I think I would have thrown those articles away 5 years ago, I now salvage and peruse them at my leisure to see what I can perhaps glean from them, and use to help enhance Janeway. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 8 - 15:38:39 ]
RE: [Cindy] The original cast of ST, especially Nichelle Nichols, have participated in NASA events - the christening of the shuttle Enterprise, etc. What are your plans? With the (rumored) ending of ST:V (or, at least, Captain Janeway), what projects will you be supporting?
I think that it's very worthwhile to engage in projects that are related to the creative endeavor of the moment. That would be Star Trek: Voyager. While I'm engaged in this project, I will, of course, do whatever I can to help the science community, in particular, young people. Regarding projects that really stir my heart and are close to it, I would say they are tangential: pediatric AIDS is very important to me; children; social security; foster homes. I'm very much in the world and in the present regarding my other charities. However, I would always and with great pleasure involve myself in the future of science, particularly space science. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 12 - 15:45:17 ]
RE: [Daphne] Did it take a lot of work and determination to get to where you are?
Indeed it did, Daphne. Let no one tell you otherwise. I've been at this for almost 27 years. It is nothing but work and determination, and another d-word, discipline, comes to mind, and focus. I determined at a very young age that this is the career that I wanted. At that time, I also decided to be total about it, which I really think is the only approach one should take. So, with my study, focus, and complete dedication, I would say that it has been a very significant part of my life. As a result, I have been able to play such superb and remarkable characters, not the least of whom is Kathryn Janeway. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 13 - 15:53:41 ]
RE: [Dana] Even when ST:Voyager first aired, Captain Janeway was labeled as a female role model. Now that the character has grown and evolved, do you feel that she is an even better role model today?
I would have to answer hopefully, yes, in the way that any other relationship evolves and grows. This has much the same value. I think that we become attached as we care, and with any luck, with my development, the viewers' allegiance to Janeway has grown because of their love or fondness for her. It's like any other relationship. I don't see why television should exempt us from that possibility. I would say, as a result of that, she would be a better role model, certainly in regards to her perseverance, persistence, loyalty, and absolute devotion to her crew.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 17 - 16:03:49 ]
RE: [Beth] Hi Ms. Mulgrew! Thank you so much for doing this! You are truly an incredible person to take time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. I don't know if you remember me or not, but you and I met at the Seattle convention last July. I was so excited to have a chance to tell you how much you've made a difference in my life. You made that experience one I will never forget. I can remember how I felt standing there and finally getting to tell you how much you have helped me over the past five years. You told me we would meet again and I sincerely hope one day we will. As for my question, I think Captain Janeway is an extraordinary captain who is calm and determined at even the direst of circumstances. I also believe that Kate Mulgrew is an incredible, very humble, very human woman, who no doubt struggles with the inner battles of life every day. What advice would you give to the women who fight against the inner adversaries and try to be a little better "Captain of the soul" everyday? Thank you again for giving us this chance. I told you at the convention that you are more to me than someone that plays Captain Janeway, you are someone that I would be pleased to consider a friend. My friendship and my utmost respect for your work as an actress, and you as a person will always be here. Thanks again, Beth
What a wonderful question, Beth. I found this question both moving and insightful. Very simply put, my philosophy would be to be as present to the moment as possible. I think what happens is that we become terribly involved with trying to juggle too many balls at one time. As a result, they all fall. If we simply address one issue at a time, or if this were a musical score, one movement at a time, and complete that to the best of our ability, and then move on to the next, that has with it a great sense of relief. It also allows one the reward of knowing that you have completed one task very well. I think if one takes this in a measured and philosophical way, it's possible to do all things reasonably well, and avoid the stress that so often paralyzes and alienates us from ourselves. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 18 - 16:11:58 ]
RE: [Maaike] Hi Kate, I am a member of Now Voyager and I live in Holland. 1. You visit Bonn in 1998 I was there, will you visit Europe again one day, maybe Holland? 2. I gave you a little puppy (stone) in a basket. Do you still have it? 3. When they say you can work 3 days a week on Voyager, will you stay for more seasons?
I would certainly love to do that, Maaike, and I'm sure that I will. My sister lives in London and I love to travel. Once my tenure as Captain Janeway has been completed, I'll have much more freedom to see the world, which is something I've long wanted to do. You gave me a little puppy in a basket: of course, I still have it. I cherished that gift, as I do all things that come from the heart. When they say I can work 3 days a week on Voyager, will I stay for more seasons? That's a funny question, and a dear one. I don't think they're ever going to say I can work 3 days a week on Voyager. As for my staying for more seasons, we're discussing that right now. I'm under contract for 6, and so I will certainly complete my contractual obligations.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 20 - 16:19:17 ]
RE: [Rose] Kate: Glad you'll be reading these offline, as I've got more of a message than a question. I have to thank you for presenting such a strong public presence. Your candid interviews about life and career have been quite an inspiration. Your survival skills and passion for your craft served as a template for an introspective house cleaning. I took along hard look at an unproductive relationship, stagnant career and stymied creative (and long forgotten) skills and the joy they brought me. Things are looking up... I gave my career a kick in the rear, separated from my spouse of 11 years and I'm writing... thanks for being such a visible powerhouse and reminding the women of the world how strong we all can be. Incidentally, Emma, my three year old thinks Captain Janeway is just terrific and we watch the rebroadcast together on Sunday evenings... Regards, Rose Sennett
Rose, you talk to me at length, and give me a lovely message about how you feel about me and the influence I've had on your life, and what you proceeded to do as a result of this influence. This knowledge astounds and moves me. I want to say that if I've had any impact at all on your emotional courage, I can't think of anything better that I possibly could have done. The fact that you and your daughter share a mutual interest and fondness for Voyager is delightful to me. I send my congratulations and you have my admiration.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 23 - 09:44:59 ]
RE: [Danielle6thgrade] How did it feel to be invited to speak at the White House? Does it make you nervous speaking in front of people instead of a camera? What did you talk about at the meeting at the White House? I was the group leader of 4 fifth grade boys and we came up with the questions together
I was invited to the White House to speak to a conference of women in science. There were about 15 women from all over the world being honored for their contributions to science in their respective fields. The White House wanted me to speak about how I felt my position as the first female captain could influence science, in particular, NASA. So, of course I was nervous, not to speak publicly, which I've done often. But to speak in front of a group of such renowned female scientists was daunting, to say the least. Rather than trying to prepare something that would have been outrageously pretentious, I simply spoke from my heart and told them that I held them in the highest admiration. What I could and did see very clearly was a passion for their careers, craft, the nobility of science, and the pioneering aspects of science. The sheer courage it has taken them to persevere, and their far reaching devotion to the future, is a most remarkable thing. NASA now has at its core a splendid group of women who are unprecedented in their imaginations and their iron wills to succeed.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 25 - 09:51:38 ]
RE: [Kristi] Hi Kate, How's it goimg? Hope you are well. It is wet and windy in England at the mo. My question is:- Do you think that anytime in the future you will be visiting these shores to see your UK based fans? I see Robert is coming over soon to do a con in Birmingham. I know you have a major busy life but is there any chance at all? We would welcome you with open arms. It would be a great honor to have you. All the best. Kristi
It's going very well, Kristi. I hope to visit England very soon, Kristi, as my sister lives in London. I've received a couple of invitations/offers from English conventioneers, both of which are most interesting to me. I'd like to do that before the summer of 1999. I think I was looking at August. There is certainly a chance, and you will hear about it. It will be posted, and I'm sure it will be publicized. So if I do appear at a convention at which you are present, Kristi, I want you to make yourself known. I'd appreciate that. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 27 - 10:05:40 ]
RE: [Rose] Although I'll be sorry to see the end of Voyager... I'm looking forward to seeing you on the New York stage. Are you interested in classical projects or contemporary theater? After six years of Kathryn Janeway who's next?
I'm very interested in the theater, Rose, and thank you so much for this question. I'm interested in any play which is beautifully written. As far as I'm concerned, it's all about the word. All my life, I've had a longing to play Masha in "The Three Sisters." I love the Scottish play. There's much of Shakespeare I'd love to tackle, and New York has undergone a rejuvenation in the theater. So I'm very much looking forward to returning there and seeing if I have a place where I was once so very happy. After 6 years of Kathryn Janeway, who's next? Actually, I haven't a clue, Rose. I think a new series is in development somewhere on the lot of Paramount. This franchise has been very, very good to them, and they're incredibly smart men when it comes to numbers. I couldn't tell you if they have a captain or teacher in mind, or if they simply have a leader in mind. We'll have to sit tight and see what comes down the pike.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 30 - 10:33:08 ]
RE: [Rei] Is it intimidating being in the same category as Patrick Stewart and William Shatner?
Not at all. I didn't have to be on the same sound stage with them. Being in the same category with them is an honor. I think to play the captain is, without question, a great privilege. Certainly, to be the first female captain stands alone.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 32 - 10:44:46 ]
RE: [Stan] What one piece of advice would you give a young lady who shows an interest and skill in science and/or space?
Clearly, my advice would be to pursue it with everything that you have -- your dedication, skill and promise -- and not to err from that path or deviate from your course. It's easy to say this. I think very few young people have the maturity and wisdom to understand that a fruitful and prominent career in science is a long term deal. The seeds have to be sown when one is quite young, and one must be faithful to that. So that would be my advice on that subject.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 34 - 11:00:38 ]
RE: [CyberMum] Dear Kate.... First let me say how very much I have enjoyed your work on Voyager over the past few years. When I first read about, and then watched the character of Kathryn Janeway, I was extremely pleased as to the way she was written. A strong, intelligent, passionate and compassionate Captain who could easily inspire the loyalty and respect of her melded crew. In short, a woman of the 24th century. But recently the Captain that I see being written for Voyager is, to me, the stereotypical idea of what men consider a woman in a leadership role to be. Shrill, rigid, possibly even frigid, who has no (perceived)significant relationships or friendships in her life and whose sole purpose is her work and/or goals. It seems to me that this wonderful character into whom you imbued such life has been reduced to what a 20th century male both fears and despises, and the image that we 20th century females are trying so hard to overcome. My question is do you have much input into the character of Janeway? And if you do, could you please lobby very hard to bring back that warm, wonderful and witty woman who we first met in the Caretaker episode. Thank you.
I have mixed reaction to you, CyberMum, because of course, I do not want to be playing a woman who is shrill, rigid, and possibly even frigid. It is very much up to the actress to convey what the character is feeling. I do, indeed, have a great deal of input into the character, Janeway, at this point in time. The writers and I work together closely, and I have fashioned Janeway out of my own clay -- they're very aware of that. I have tried terribly hard to imbue her with humanity and warmth. I'm very sorry to read that you don't feel that I have been faithful to that characterization. Nothing is sadder to an actress than to hear that the evolution of her character has gone from something lovely to something that a viewer might perceive as far less than lovely, possibly even frigid. So I'll work on that for you, CyberMum. But I think if you look very closely, you might see that I've tried to instill in Janeway a need and an absolute determination to survive, and to get this crew back home. I think if you found yourself in her position, that too, might be your primary motivation. Thank you.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 36 - 11:24:18 ]
RE: [Dianna] Hello Ms. Mulgrew, I love you on Voyager. Here is my my first question. I see by your profile on this site that you have 3 children. Are any of your children girls, and if so are they interested in the sciences? Second question - As a child I myself struggled with math and science and really didn't enjoy it, my seven year old daughter on the other hand is like a sponge and loves everything about it. Do you have any advice to a fellow mom on how I can encourage and share with her these things that I have absolutely no clue about? It's only been 13 years since I was in school, but the work she comes home with amazes me.
I have a daughter; she's 21. She has no interest in the sciences. I, too, struggled with science and math VERY much when I was a young girl. I also find it really tough to keep up with my boys, who are teenagers, in their studies because it's way over my head. Of course, they go to a progressive school. They're now being educated on a level that is clearly superior to mine. It's inexpressible. I think the best you can do is support your daughter, Diana. Tell her that if you had that kind of information at your disposal when you were young, you'd been running NASA today.

[ KateMulgrew/CA - 38 - 11:46:02 ]
RE: [Sara] As a school guidance counselor who sees many working mothers attempting to balance career with family life, I have followed your comments regarding your homelife with much interest. Are your sons any closer to accepting your attempt at juggling work and family? And how do you as their mother deal with their feelings?
My sons are better. Thank you very much, Sara, for that question. They are growing up, and as they are growing up, they are acquiring a maturity and a wisdom that pleases me very much. They're understanding that it's absolutely crucial that I go to work to provide them with the life that they're presently enjoying. Most importantly, a superior education and all of the activities and by-products that this kind of position allows me to give them. I deal with their feelings as I deal with the feelings of all people that I love. I am present to their feelings. I try not to prejudge their feelings, and never impose any kind of preconception or opinion of my own. I feel that the feelings of a 15 year old boy are very different from the feelings of a 43 year old woman. I try to implement my acting skills by putting myself in their shoes. I find that when you do that, you free yourself of all the baggage of a lifetime that makes us slightly cynical and bossy. I want them to understand that compassion and empathy are far more important than anything else. Thank you very much.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 39 - 11:53:41 ]
Our very special thanks to Kate Mulgrew sharing her personal and professional experiences, as well as her thoughtful and heartfelt responses to our questions. To learn about other pioneering women featured in our upcoming Female Frontiers activities, visit the Female Frontiers activity schedule page, at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/schedule.html. A schedule of upcoming chats with NASA experts is also available at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events. We hope to hear from you online for our future events!


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