Jennifer Anne Lien
August 24, 1974
Palos Heights, Illinois, U.S.
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." 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!
Lien's first television appearance was in a bubble gum commercial playing twins. 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.
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!"
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...".
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.
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."
Lien's Voyager contract was not renewed after season three to allow Jeri Ryan to join the cast as Seven of Nine within the existing budget. In 2000, Lien returned for a season six episode titled "Fury".
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. She also voiced Vitani in the 1998 Disney direct-to-video film The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride.
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. In a 1995 interview, Lien said the following about these conventions:
The conventions are something within themselves, a unique world. It's a very different experience in that I can talk to other people involved in the world of Star Trek, like authors and actors from other Star Trek shows. I also get to meet people from other SF shows, because they tend to have guests from other series at the conventions I attend. The fans love the conventions, love meeting the people involved in their favorite shows. That makes you want to give them everything you can. I try to tell them what's going on, share my laughter and tell them about the wonderful experience I've been having on Voyager. The feedback is just so positive. The fans seem to really like the show, and that's good. If they have any negative feedback, they give it to me, too, which is fine. They're usually pretty respectful, and they come up with things that are very interesting—positive and negative – and I get sucked into it.
Lien is married to writer and filmmaker Phil Hwang; their son, Jonah, was born on September 5, 2002. Upon the birth of her son, Lien retired from acting and voice-over work but was credited as executive producer on her husband's 2008 film Geek Mythology. In August 2010, Lien said she intended to work as a nutritionist after completing her studies.
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. 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."
Between 2015 and 2018, Lien was arrested and charged with a variety of offences several of which were later dropped. The court eventually ordered her to undergo mental health treatment.
|1990||Baby Blood||Yanka||Voice role|
|1998||American History X||Davina Vinyard|
|1998||The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride||Vitani||Direct-to-video; Animated film|
|2001||Accidents Don't Happen||Nurse||Rubbernecking (original title)|
|1990||Brewster Place||Music Academy Student||Episode: "One Small Step at a Time"|
|1991–1992||Another World||Hannah Moore||Recurring role; Unknown number 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|
- Simpson, P.; Thomas, R. (March 2000). "Kes & Tell". Star Trek Monthly. No. 76. pp. 28–32.
- "Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television". Contemporary Theater, Film and Television : A Biographical Guide. Detroit: Gale Research Co.: 258 1999. ISSN 0749-064X.
- Reiner, Jonathan (August 18, 1992). "She's Only Just Begun". Soap Opera Weekly. Vol. 3 no. 33. p. 33.
- "I Was the Worst Child". Daytime TV. Vol. 11 no. 3. March 1993. p. 50.
- Eramo, Steven (December 1996). "Jennifer Lien – Nine Year Wonder". TV Zone. No. 23. pp. 18–21.
- Giordana, Lucille (1992). "Growing Up Is Great". Daytime TV. Vol. 23 no. 4. p. 39.
- "Roundup – Q: What Things Have You Said That You Wish You Hadn't?". Soap Opera Digest. Vol. 17 no. 20. 1992. p. 124.
- Sandler, Adam (September 28, 1993). They're All Gonna Laugh At You! (CD). Warner Music Group.
- "VOYAGER DELTA QUADRANT UPDATE BIO-FILE: Kes". StarTrek.com. Archived from the original on April 17, 2010. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
- Lutz, Richard (February 2016). "Social Cohesiveness" (PDF). Human Rights Coalition (Australia). Archived (PDF) from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
- "Fury". Star Trek: Voyager. Season 6. Episode 23. May 3, 2000. UPN.
- "Star Trek Catching Up with Jennifer Lien". StarTrek.com. August 9, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2012.
- Spelling, Ian (June 1996). "Innocent Abroad". Starlog. No. 227. pp. 41–43. ISSN 0191-4626.
- "Jennifer Lien News". jennifer-lien.com. Retrieved August 17, 2010.
- "Jennifer Lien". moviesnonstop.com. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
- Stedman, Alex (September 15, 2015). "'Star Trek: Voyager' Actress Jennifer Lien Arrested for Indecent Exposure". Variety. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
- Lawrence, Damon (April 23, 2015). "Police: Woman rams cruiser". Roane Country News. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
- "Former Star Trek: Voyager actress arrested in Kingston". WATE-TV. March 13, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
- Culver, Annie (November 28, 2016). "Indecent exposure charges dropped in Roane County for Star Trek: Voyager actress". WATE-TV. Retrieved March 14, 2020.
- Lawrence, Damon (November 29, 2016). "Star Trek actress' charges dismissed". www.roanecounty.com. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
- Lawrence, Damon (March 1, 2016). "'Star Trek: Voyager' star ordered to pay, continue treatment". www.roanecounty.com. Retrieved May 8, 2016.