To Millennials, Gabrielle Union is best known for her iconic roles in 10 Things I Hate About You, She’s All That, Love and Basketball and Bring it On. Since she solidified her status as a teen queen and Hollywood favorite, she’s had an incredibly successful career in both television and film.
Throughout her career Union has portrayed all kinds of characters. Though many of her early roles were in high school or family sitcoms and teen rom-coms, Union did land one role that was very different from the rest. A few years before she became a 90s icon, she played a Klingon in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9).
Here’s everything you need to know about her only appearance in the Star Trek universe.
Union Played N’Garen
In the sixth season episode entitled “Sons and Daughters,” Lieutenant Commander Worf reunited with his son Alexander. Despite insisting that he would never be a warrior like his father, Alexander chose to join the Klingon Defense Force and was assigned to the Klingon vessel the Rotarran. The ship stopped at Deep Space Nine before escorting another ship through contested space.
To Worf’s dismay, he found out that his son was the target of ridicule on the Rotarran for being half-human. While Worf was onboard the ship, he witnessed his son’s incompetence firsthand when Alexander mistook a battle simulation for an actual sensor reading indicating an attack. Worf watched while all of Alexander’s crewmates on the bridge mocked him. Later he lamented that his son was “the ship’s fool.”
One of Alexander’s most outspoken bullies was the weapons officer N’Garen, who was brought to life by Union. In her memoir We’re Going to Need More Wine, Union joked that even as a Klingon, she was still the “mean girl of the squad.”
Throughout the episode, N’Garen proved herself to be just as much of a warrior as any of her male counterparts. She was responsible for taking out a Jem’Hadar ship that attacked the Rotarran.
Though Union wasn’t much of a Star Trek fan herself, she was raised by an old-school Trekkie. In an interview with NPR about her then upcoming memoir, Union revealed that her mother “was a massive Trekkie.”
“So being a Klingon in my family was akin to winning the Oscars,” Union joked.
She doesn’t talk much about playing a Klingon in interviews, which makes sense since it was one role at the beginning of her career. However, We’re Going to Need More Wine includes some hilarious details about Union’s experience becoming N’Garen.
She wrote about getting into Klingon makeup, which took so long that she ran out of things to talk about with her hair and makeup team. During breaks from the incredibly long days on set — her last day there was 19 hours — she explored Melrose dressed as a Klingon. To her surprise, no one at the cafe across the street from Paramount seemed to care that she came in as a Klingon. Apparently, it happened all the time.