Jennifer Lien

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Jennifer Lien
Jennifer Anne Lien, April 1996.jpg
Lien at the Generations II convention in 1996
Jennifer Anne Lien

(1974-08-24) August 24, 1974 (age 48)
Alma materProfessional Children's School
Years active1990–2002
Known forStar Trek: Voyager
SpousePhil Hwang

Jennifer Anne Lien (born August 24, 1974)[1] is an American former actress known for playing the alien Kes on the television series Star Trek: Voyager.

Early life[edit]

Lien was born August 24, 1974,[2] in Illinois, the youngest of three children, and joined the Illinois Theatre Center at the age of 13.[1]

In a 1992 interview, Lien said: "My childhood was wild because I was very uncomfortable living where I lived (the South Side of Chicago). It was very industrial – if you didn’t fit in you got your ass kicked. I was just my own person, and I adopted this really tough skin because I had to if I wanted to survive. A lot of my friends were into drugs, and I saw a lot of them die."[3] In a 1993 interview, Lien said:

When I was a little kid in Chicago, I always used to pretend I was somebody else. I wrote little plays, I was a tomboy, I hung out with the guys a lot. I never had much interest in hanging out with girls. I was always writing plays or watching movies or reading books, and when I was in seventh grade in junior high, I joined the drama club and found that I could fit right in, I could relax, I could do anything I wanted. I began to think I could make a difference, I could make people happy. I felt like I made the world just a little better for a while. Then, on the advice of an eighth grade teacher, I went to acting class, and then got an agent. I did industrial films and some theatre. Soon, casting directors started hiring me and then I got an interview with the people from AW. They liked me, asked me to come to New York, so here I am![4]


Lien's first television appearance was in a bubble gum commercial playing twins.[5] Her first appearance on a television series was as a music academy student in a 1990 episode of Brewster Place, starring Oprah Winfrey. The same year she provided her voice for the dubbed English language version of Baby Blood, a French horror film. Lien moved to New York in 1991 after she was cast as Hannah Moore on the soap opera Another World. She attended and graduated from the Professional Children's School while working on this series.[6]

In a 1992 interview, Lien said: "A couple of years ago, I was trying to get an audition for a baseball movie, so I said that I could play baseball. We'd always played a lot while I was growing up, like in the backyard. But when I showed up at the audition, I was faced with these Goliath-like, testosterone women who could really play. I did survive the two days of training and auditions, but I basically pulled every muscle in my body!"[7]

In 1993, Lien was cast as Roanne in Phenom, a sitcom starring Judith Light. She also participated in the recording of Adam Sandler's comedy album They're All Gonna Laugh At You in which she played the part of the Valedictorian on the track "The Buffoon And The Valedictorian", as well as one of the daughters on the track "Oh, mom..."[8]

Jennifer Lien with Voyager actresses Kate Mulgrew and Roxann Dawson (1995)

In 1994, Lien was cast as Kes on Star Trek: Voyager. Her character is an Ocampan, a species in the Star Trek universe that lives for only eight to nine years, who joins the starship's crew after it is stranded 70,000 light-years from Earth.[9]

In the same year, Lien voiced the character Valerie Fox in the pilot episode of The Critic.

Richard Lutz wrote, "The medical personnel in Star Trek best embody the humane values embedded in this franchise; the most notable of which is Kes, thanks in large part to Jennifer Lien whose remarkable performance brought to life a beautiful child-like being (Ocampa) whose short lifespan and humanity reminds us that the most important element in a life worth living is a loving connection with our fellow human beings."[10]

The showrunners reluctantly terminated Lien's contract as a member of Voyager's main cast due to unresolved personal issues that negatively impacted her performances.[11] She was replaced by a new character, Seven of Nine, played by Jeri Ryan. In 2000, Lien returned as a guest actor for a season six episode titled "Fury".[12][13]

After Voyager, Lien appeared in the movie American History X as Edward Norton's younger sister. In 1998, she appeared in SLC Punk! playing Sandy, the wild girlfriend of Matthew Lillard's character. She also voiced Agent "L" for the first three seasons of Men in Black: The Animated Series (1997–1999) and the first seven episodes of the 2000 season.


Lien has attended science fiction conventions in relation to her role as Kes when she was working on Voyager and after her film career ended.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Lien is married to writer and filmmaker Phil Hwang; their son, Jonah, was born on September 5, 2002.[15] Upon his birth, Lien retired from acting and voice-over work but was credited as executive producer on her husband's 2008 film Geek Mythology.[16] In August 2010, Lien said she intended to work as a nutritionist after completing her studies.[13]

In a 2000 interview, Lien said that she liked every kind of music, and that she played the trombone, which she started in high school.[1] She said she supported charities helping people with AIDS and had worked with Camp 40, of which she said: "I want to be doing what I can for people who need it."[1]

Between 2015 and 2018, Lien was arrested and charged with a variety of offenses,[17][18][19] several of which were later dropped.[20][21] The court eventually ordered her to undergo mental health treatment.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
1990 Baby Blood Yanka Voice role
1998 American History X Davina Vinyard
1998 SLC Punk! Sandy
2001 Rubbernecking Nurse


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Brewster Place Music Academy Student Episode: "One Small Step at a Time"
1991–1992 Another World Hannah Moore Recurring role; unknown number episodes
1993–1994 Phenom Roanne 22 episodes
1994 The Critic Valerie Fox Episode: "The Pilot"
1995 Inside the New Adventure – Star Trek: Voyager Herself TV special
1995–1997; 2000 Star Trek: Voyager Kes 68 episodes; regular cast member for three seasons
1996 Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man Movie Actress Episode: "Apocalypse Not"
1996 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Elise Episode: "Eclipse"
1996 Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond Herself / Kes TV special
1997 Superman: The Animated Series Inza Nelson Episode: "The Hand of Fate"
1997–2000 Men in Black: The Series Agent L 40 episodes; animated series


  1. ^ a b c d Simpson, P.; Thomas, R. (March 2000). "Kes & Tell". Star Trek Monthly. No. 76. pp. 28–32.
  2. ^ "Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television". Contemporary Theater, Film and Television: A Biographical Guide. Detroit: Gale Research Co.: 258 1999. ISSN 0749-064X.
  3. ^ Reiner, Jonathan (August 18, 1992). "She's Only Just Begun". Soap Opera Weekly. Vol. 3, no. 33. p. 33.
  4. ^ "I Was the Worst Child". Daytime TV. Vol. 11, no. 3. March 1993. p. 50.
  5. ^ Eramo, Steven (December 1996). "Jennifer Lien – Nine Year Wonder". TV Zone. No. 23. pp. 18–21.
  6. ^ Giordana, Lucille (1992). "Growing Up Is Great". Daytime TV. Vol. 23, no. 4. p. 39.
  7. ^ "Roundup – Q: What Things Have You Said That You Wish You Hadn't?". Soap Opera Digest. Vol. 17, no. 20. 1992. p. 124.
  8. ^ Sandler, Adam (September 28, 1993). They're All Gonna Laugh At You! (CD). Warner Music Group.
  9. ^ "VOYAGER DELTA QUADRANT UPDATE BIO-FILE: Kes". Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  10. ^ Lutz, Richard (February 2016). "Social Cohesiveness" (PDF). Human Rights Coalition (Australia). Archived (PDF) from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  11. ^ Zabiegalski, Robin (April 9, 2021). "Why Was Kes Really Written off Voyager?". Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  12. ^ "Fury". Star Trek: Voyager. Season 6. Episode 23. May 3, 2000. UPN.
  13. ^ a b "Star Trek Catching Up with Jennifer Lien". August 9, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2012.
  14. ^ Spelling, Ian (June 1996). "Innocent Abroad". Starlog. No. 227. pp. 41–43. ISSN 0191-4626.
  15. ^ "Jennifer Lien News". Retrieved August 17, 2010.
  16. ^ "Jennifer Lien". Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  17. ^ Stedman, Alex (September 15, 2015). "'Star Trek: Voyager' Actress Jennifer Lien Arrested for Indecent Exposure". Variety. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  18. ^ Lawrence, Damon (April 23, 2015). "Police: Woman rams cruiser". Roane Country News. Archived from the original on August 13, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  19. ^ "Former Star Trek: Voyager actress arrested in Kingston". WATE-TV. March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  20. ^ Culver, Annie (November 28, 2016). "Indecent exposure charges dropped in Roane County for Star Trek: Voyager actress". WATE-TV. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
  21. ^ Lawrence, Damon (November 29, 2016). "Star Trek actress' charges dismissed". Archived from the original on February 12, 2017. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  22. ^ Lawrence, Damon (March 1, 2016). "'Star Trek: Voyager' star ordered to pay, continue treatment". Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2016.

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