Jolene Blalock is T’Pol on Star Trek: Enterprise. A San Diego girl, she was born on March 5, 1975. Over her long career, she’s known for starring in various science fiction roles, including Legend of the Seeker, Stargate: SG1, and “Starship Troopers 3: Mauraders.” She also starred in “Slow Burn” a movie with Ray Liota.
But “Star Trek” fans know her best as the slightly more emotional Vulcan science officer aboard Enterprise. And she’s taken up the ears and Vulcan salute like a pro, handling difficult storylines.
Here are five things you need to know about Jolene Blalock.
1. She’s a Model, Comic, and Actor
According to IMDB, Blalock left home at 16 to start a modeling career. On her way back to the United States, after jetting across Europe and Asia, she decided she wanted to do more acting. So, she enrolled in the Stella Adler Academy and participated in improv in Second City (in Toronto).
As far as modeling goes, she successfully posed for a number of magazines: Maxim, FHM, and Playboy. She ranked number 94 in Stuff’s “102 Sexiest Women in the World.” But she claims she wasn’t always a beauty. According to an interview with the Daily Star, she says,
“I was such an awkward-looking child, I’ve no idea what happened.”
Modeling started to take its toll on her mental health. Giant Freakin Robot includes a 2002 interview with The Sun, where Blalock says,
“I’m jaded by my experiences in the modeling industry. You’re never skinny or perfect enough and it was difficult mentally making the transition to acting.”
2. She Loves ‘Trek’ and Almost Wasn’t T’Pol
But Blalock isn’t just a pretty face. Soon, she made the leap into acting, getting parts in Veronica’s Closet, The Love Boat: the Next Wave, Jason and the Argonauts, and JAG.
When the role for Star Trek: Enterprise came up, she almost didn’t try out for the role because she didn’t think she could get the role.
Rick Berman (show creator) describes the process in a video interview with Television Academy Foundation. Hundreds of women read for T’Pol, but even without makeup, he knew Blalock had potential. Berman says, “She nailed it.”
History was made; she landed the role.
And things started off well. In this TrekCore video, she says, “Broken Bow” (the first episode) went brilliantly and she was thrilled to stay true to Gene Roddenberry’s vision. Blalock was also happy about the storyline unfolding, and that it was similar to The Original Series. In her interview with Desert News, she says.
“I see relationships between each character forming, and yet I’m still the odd man out. But yet, there’s the beginning of that loyalty that was in the original ‘Star Trek’ between Bones and Kirk and Spock. And that’s one thing that I love that they’re doing is that they’re not coming in with that loyalty. They’re showing that loyalty progress and how that began.”
“Growing up, I grew up on the original ‘Star Trek.’ Also, when I was in sixth grade, I would come home from school and watch the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy back to back every day for the entire year. It’s something that brings humanity outside of itself. It makes us think outside of ourselves, it presents the question what if, what if we could jump the timeline, what if we could meet another intelligent species, what if we could colonize on another planet. It deals with very big ideas, so sci-fi/fantasy, you can do [anything].”
3. She Loved the ‘Enterprise’ Crew, Not the Storylines
More than enjoying “Star Trek,” Blalock often talks about how much she enjoyed working with her fellow actors and crew members. She was friends with them. There are various stories that support her care for fellow actors and them for her.
One touching moment includes a scene where T’Pol and Trip mourn the death of their baby (DNA clone). Connor Trinneer (who plays Trip) had trouble recovering. Blalock went over to talk with him and because of it, she was the first to learn he and his wife were going to have a baby.
But who she liked to see half-naked may surprise fans. It wasn’t Trinneer’s chest that Blalock enjoyed; she enjoyed seeing Scott Bakula (Captain Archer) shirtless. Blalock said he was eye candy and made the day go faster.
Thank God, he’s got a kick-*** body.”
But somewhere along the way, her attitude soured on Star Trek: Enterprise. She was vocally critical of storylines, wishing that “Star Trek” writers and the network worried less about sex appeal and focused more on good stories. In SFX Magazine, quoted from Trek Today and Heavy, Blalock was unhappy that the way to fix ratings was more cleavage and titillation.
“You can’t substitute t**s and a** for good storytelling,”
It’s a theme she’s repeated many times, including telling SFX Magazine in 2004, quoted via TrekToday.
“You can have both, but you can’t substitute one for the other, because the audience is not stupid. You can’t just throw in frivolous, uncharacteristic … well, bull, and think it’s going to help the ratings.”
On a related note, Blalock also wasn’t happy about the relationship T’Pol had with Trip. In Trek Today, she indicates it seemed ludicrous:
“I think it’s absolutely ridiculous that some catfish-eating honky-tonk guy would be appealing to this serene character ….”
Before the end, though, she began to enjoy herself again. Like many “Star Trek” fans, she liked the fourth season, praising Manny Coto for his work as the new showrunner.
“It was an unexpected surprise to have the scripts that we did … it was fun to come to work again.”
But all of that came to an end.
4. She Hated Saying Goodbye
One of the reasons she’s so protective of the character is her devotion to getting it the Vulcan right. It’s that love of Spock and understanding of Vulcan rituals that made a difference. She even asked that T’Pol not eat with her hands and respect Vulcan traditions in episodes. It was a process that sometimes involved calls all the way up the chain, stalling production.
Her love of the crew and T’Pol made it hard to say goodbye. And Blalock was unhappy where things left off with “These Are the Voyages,” the finale of Star Trek: Enterprise.
“I wish the best for T’Pol, and I don’t wish her to be viewed as everything that they made her – a drug addict, weak woman, confused, lost.”
Insulting, she says to Trek Today. What upset her and most of the crew was the focus on Star Trek: The Next Generation for the last episode. But Blalock wasn’t alone. In interviews, such as in TV Insider, Brannon Braga (“Star Trek” writer) even said it was the only time Scott Bakula (Captain Archer) was ever mean to him. Many cast members were displeased; it seems only Trinneer was happy about the finale, feeling like his character’s arc came to end.
The last day of filming was emotionally charged. Blalock filmed the final shot of the final episode on her 30th birthday. The scene was T’Pol waiting as Archer ascended the steps to give the speech of his life. But the actress struggled to say goodbye. In Trek Today, she says:
“Scott Bakula and I were in the very last scene. I caught eyes with Scott, and it was just a moment I will never forget. And he walked over and he shook my hand before we started shooting that last scene, and I almost lost it … I loved the people that I worked with … I’m very grateful and fortunate that I was able to be part of this incarnation. It’s sad to see it go.”
5. She Now Does Charity Events and Momhood
Blalock proposed to and then quickly married Michael Rapino, CEO of Live Nation, in 2003 when the entire family was on vacation in Jamaica. In 2005, Rapino became CEO. Although reports differ on their wealth, it seems they’re worth at least $120 million.
She’s helping with the Rapino Foundation as well as being mom-in-chief. The couple has three children together. Blalock has acted, but mostly in cameos. Charity events she’s involved with include the Make a Wish Foundation (according to Lapalme) and the American Ballet Theatre.
Maybe she’s not playing a Vulcan anymore, but she has a more important role: mom. Besides there’s always the opportunity she may be a guest star on “Star Trek” again as a more mature T’Pol. It’s possible she could visit Captain Pike in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, departing advice about her time on Enterprise.
Perhaps she’ll even be together with the others, including Jonathan Archer, Phlox, Shran, and maybe even Trip.
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