The newest and most fascinating
character on Star Trek Voyager is played by Jeri Ryan. She was born Jeri
Lynn Zimmermann on Feb 22, 1968 to Jerry and Sharon Zimmermann. Ryan has
lived all over the U.S., an Army brat born in Munich, Germany, and
raised on military bases from Kentucky to Hawaii. While in
college, she won the sixth annual Miss Northwestern Alpha Delta Phi
Pageant in 1989. A junior majoring in Speech, Jeri also won
the talent contest singing "On My Own" from "Les
Miserables" and co-won the swimsuit contest. Later on
that year she won the Miss Illinois Pageant and went on to place third
runner-up in the 1990 Miss America Pageant. But if you think
she's all looks and no brains, you're wrong; while in school Jeri was
also a National Merit Scholar.
Although an accomplished actress, Ryan
considers her greatest role to be that of mother to Alex. "As a
mom, I'm more patient and feel more complete," she says.
"Nobody could have convinced me while I was pregnant of how magical
it would be to be a mother." In her spare time, she enjoys snow
skiing as well as cooking and baking, "I make some mean pies!"
Ryan states proudly.
Jeri is naturally 5'
8" and at 6' in her Borg-heels, she is more than statuesque.
TV Guide referred to her "whiplash-inducing presence."
Syndicated columnist Ron Miller said, "One gets the impression
she's going to shiver the timbers of the Voyager males." Her
character's name is Seven of Nine which is short for Seven of Nine
Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero-One, or something like that,"
says Ryan. "We've streamlined it to Seven, which isn't so
bad." Voyager executive producer Rick Berman described Seven as
"a sensual creature neither fully Borg nor fully human."
She's dressed to look like an extraterrestrial version of Catwoman,
encased in an ultra tight cat suit, bearing a few remaining Borg
markings on her face and hands. Co-star Ethan Phillips says those tight
costumes make working with Ryan a little "complicated."
Ryan says, "For the first costume, if I would do anything other
than have my head straight ahead, it cut off my carotid artery. It was
so tight that I blacked out four times," says Ryan, interviewed on
the Voyager set in a new costume that she says is looser but still takes
an hour to climb into.
The old suit forced her to
lie down between scenes to regain her composure. But she didn't
complain. "That was my nice Midwestern girl
upbringing," she says. "They would bring nurses to the set
with oxygen, and I wouldn't say anything. But after the
fourth time blacking out, I spoke up." Producers
quickly refitted the suit.
But the next costume
(pictured at right) has problems of its own. "Forget vanity, throw
vanity to the wind! And you can forget anything about privacy, because
it ain't gonna happen. Anytime I have to go to the bathroom, everybody
has to know about it. It's announced over the P.A. system, because
production stops for a half-hour. 'We can't roll a shot. Jeri's not
here.' 'Why not, where's Jeri?' 'Jeri has to go 10-100.' It's just a
Then there was a third costume which
premiered in "The Raven." This latest incarnation of the cat
suit stayed until the fifth season to be replaced by a blue two-toned
version of the cat suit.
Prior to Trek, she's
appeared in episodes of "Melrose Place," "The
Flash," "Time Trax," "Matlock," and
"Murder, She Wrote" as well as several TV movies and the
unreleased independent feature, "The Last Man."
" 'The Last Man' is about the last three people on Earth, and I'm
the last woman," says Ryan. "I know it sounds like
sci-fi, but it's really not. I hope they get the film released. It's a
small, but very good film."
According to Harry Ralston, the film's producer, it should be out around
She was also in the final
seven episodes of "Dark Skies." Looking back on
"Dark Skies," Ryan notes that she liked the people and the
premise, but that NBC had given up on the series by the time she arrived
on the scene. " 'Dark Skies' had a lot of
potential," Ryan says. "The show was just finding its footing
when it got canceled. "I did a complete 180," says Jeri Ryan,
"I was fighting the collective, the (alien) Hive on 'Dark Skies.'
Now I'm part of the collective, the Borg. It's very funny." On
those shows, she was billed as Jeri Lynn Ryan. A new manager hired
before her Voyager job convinced her to drop the "Lynn."
"He didn't think it would sound like a name that would grow with
me," Ryan says. "He didn't see me at 44 years old as Jeri
Lynn. "Personally, I miss the Lynn. I've been Jeri Lynn all my
life, and my family always calls me Lynn, which causes confusion around
To help Ryan achieve Borg perfection,
the makeup department made a plaster cast of her face, a 45-minute
process that involved breathing through two straws pushed up into her
nose. That was followed by a two-hour cast of her entire body. "You
have to suffer for art," she quips. But she has no problem with
being sold as the new sex symbol of Voyager. "There are
worse things you could be called than 'whiplash-inducing,' " she
says. "But as long as the character is intelligently written and
gets challenging stories for me to play, I'm fine with it . . . as long
as I can breathe."
- Credits -
George "Stompy" Kuhr
Jeanne Wolf, TVGEN
Jefferson Graham, USA TODAY
Kate O'Hare, Tribune Media Services from The Chicago Tribune TVWeek
Ian Spelling, The New York Times Syndicate
Knight-Ridder News Services.