Not too long ago, Heavy gave fans an update on what the talented Ms. Roxann Dawson was up to. Thanks to Heavy’s Robin Zabiegalski, audiences learned that Dawson has been quite busy. Most “Star Trek” fans know Dawson as the half-human, half-Klingon character, Chief Engineer B’Elanna Torres. But as any quick Google search about Dawson will reveal, she is not ‘just’ an actress or singer.
Dawson was one of a handful of Trek stars who started directing on the set of their own show. This list includes Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Robert Duncan McNeill, and LeVar Burton. Dawson’s first opportunity as a director was a sixth-season “Star Trek: Voyager” episode — “Riddles.” She directed one more “Voyager” show — “Workforce, Part II” — and then became a regular director on “Star Trek: Enterprise.”
Dawson in 1990
Since “Enterprise,” Dawson has directed dozens of episodes, including for popular television shows like “Crossing Jordan,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Cold Case,” “This Is Us,” “The Americans,” “House of Cards,” “Bates Motel,” “Scandal,” and “The Good Wife.”
She told StarTrek.com in 2011 that she was essentially done acting.
“I would be sad to think that I’ll never act again, but there’s not really an opportunity now,” said Dawson. “I can’t pursue it, and I don’t have the time at the moment. I don’t miss it, but I always think that I’ll do it again at some point when it becomes convenient. But it hasn’t been yet.”
While that interview was conducted before the launch of “Star Trek: Discovery” and the other new Trek fare, she did say that she thought there was a “zero percent chance” of any sort of “Voyager” reunion film or series. And so far, she’s been right.
Dawson on B’Elanna
She said that working within the “Star Trek” framework prepared her well for directing in general.
“Star Trek gave me a great education, just in terms of shooting, of working with actors, and definitely visual effects,” said Dawson. “Those things were invaluable. Even though the technology has evolved ten-fold since those days, that show gave me a very good understanding and footing in terms of the visual effects world.”
“At that time, there were not a lot of directors who understood how that worked. Now there are a lot of shows you wouldn’t think are visual effects-heavy that actually are (visual effects-heavy),” Dawson said. “Visual effects are used all the time now, even on shows that seem somewhat contemporary and normal. So things have changed quite a bit, and ‘Voyager’ gave me a great understanding of how all that works.”
From ‘Star Trek’ to ‘Foundation’
Perhaps it was some of those skills that she sharpened while working on Trek which helped her prepare for the world of “Foundation.” This new series, which airs on Apple TV+, is set in a universe that is vastly different from Trek. Very loosely based on the works of Isaac Asimov, the “Foundation” is a story that takes place over 1,000 years in a galaxy inhabited by humans who live in a Roman-style empire.
Many of the ideas from “Foundation” were used to construct the backstory for “Star Wars,” and Asimov and Trek creator Gene Roddenberry were close friends.
So far, Dawson has directed two episodes of “Foundation,” both of which are very different from each other and full of special effects.
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