The first celebrity Q&A of Toronto ComiCon went to Denise Crosby. The actress is best known to nerdom as Security Chief Tasha Yar from the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and as the producer of the two Trekkie documentaries, but lately she’s enjoyed a new limelight as a regular on the Showtime series Ray Donovan starring Liew Schreiber. Tonight though, the topics of conversation would likely all be Trek-related, and Crosby, wearing a skull-patterned cashmere serape and a smile, answered many fan questions with tremendous humor, Crosby easily won the room and set a fun and easy tone for the weekend.
The first question went to moderator Teddy Wilson of the Space channel’s nerd news series Innerspace. In reference to Crosby work on Trekkies he asked simply, why are you so fascinated by us?
“Because you’re freaks!” Crosby said to applause and some whoops from the crowd. “It’s just the heart and soul of the fans,” she added to seriously answer the question. “I’ve always been deeply moved by the love and devotion to the show, and your interest in us apart from our roles on Star Trek, so we have this symbiotic relationship.”
To open the fan questions, and the new trivia portion of the Q&A, a man sporting a blue Starfleet science officer’s uniform asked if Crosby was going to be involved in any new Star Trek projects. That’s up to J.J. Abrams, she said, but it did lead into an anecdote about how her son is in the same Little League as Abrams’ son and they met when their sons’ teams played each other. Abrams, as it turned out, knew Crosby from Trekkies, tough their conversation has yet to lead to no offer of work in the new films.
Soon enough, the topic of conversation turned to “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” the critically-acclaimed third season episode that brought Yar back to the bridge of the Enterprise thanks to the wonders of alternate history and time travel. “I read the script and said ‘Oh my God, that’s really good writing,” she said. “I was so surprised, I did not see that coming.”
What she did see coming though was Yar’s Romulan daughter Sela, who was revealed in the season four finale of Next Generation. In fact, Crosby takes credit for Sela’s creation. “I was totally ripping off Dances with Wolves,” she confesses, referring to Mary McDonnell’s character from the Academy Award-winning movie.
An Ottawa-based actress asked Crosby for her assessment of Sela, a few words about what made the character tick. “She’s a very power-obsessed villain, very driven, and that’s masking a vulnerability she can’t reveal,” Crosby explained.
Another female fan asked about Yar’s status as one of sci-fi’s warrior women, as well as being a woman of authority on the bridge of the Enterprise, and the rarity of that when Next Generation premiered back in 1987. “All of the sudden people are responding to it with another level you never really though about,” she said looking back. “I understand now what a powerful role model she was, especially 26 years ago.”
As to the infamous fate of her character, Crosby said that she wanted to get more out of Yar than she was getting, rather than day in and day out just “standing on the bridge and saying, ‘Aye Captain,’” she said. After talking to anybody that would listen, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry told her that she had to get used to it because there was a formula and it wasn’t going to change. “At that age you’re hungry and ambitious,” she explained saying that Roddenberry gave her his blessing to set forth and do other things.
Coming back around to her first point, Crosby encouraged everyone in the audience to adhere to the old philosophy and apply it to their nerdery: if it feels good, do it. “Who’s to say what’s weird?” she asked. “We’re all weird, the things is to embrace it and be who you are, and that’s the beauty of all this.”
Toronto ComiCon runs all weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Downtown Toronto. Look for ongoing coverage on Nerd Bastards.