During Star Trek: Voyager's seven season run, Star Trek fans got to know actress Roxann Dawson as the show's half-human/half-Klingon Lt. B'Elanna Torres. While on Voyager, she was given the chance to try her hand at directing. Dawson found she had a real knack as well as passion for working behind the camera, and over the past few years has focused more and more on that side of the business. TV dramas have encompassed the bulk of her directing, including such genre shows as Lost, Heroes and Caprica.
"Lost was heaven," says Dawson. "You're directing in Hawaii and you've got this beautiful scenery in front of you, all of which made things rather magical. What was really wonderful is that you felt like you were part of the show's mythology and exploring as well as discovering the clues to it at the same time as the audience. I think when you're a fan of a TV show, which I was of Lost, to be able to get out there and be involved like that was something quite special.
"With Heroes I was really fortunate to direct during its first season, when I thought the show was at its full tilt. There was so much potential there, and all the actors and their characters were on fire. Like Lost, there was the scope of Heroes along with the mythology and your being a part of shaping where the show was going. It was an exciting place to work; they really were respectful of directors' input and the actors were so receptive to working with you. It really was just a hoot and I loved every minute of it.
"Coming back to Heroes in its last season was a little more difficult because it was trying to rediscover itself. The budget wasn't as big, and the program had obviously gone through a bit of an identity crisis and, again, was trying to find itself. The thing is, though, that it was constantly trying to move in a direction of growth. Whether it succeeded or not, it didn't matter. It never stopped trying, so you always felt part of this creative process that was growing as opposed to doing a show that was sitting there just running by the numbers. It was thrilling to be involved in that process.
"As for Caprica, I have to say that it's one of the most exciting shows that I've ever done," she enthuses, "and it's probably because of the way that it's shot. They use three cameras all the time, there was a lot of improvisation, and the actors were just hot as well as, again, very receptive. It was an adrenaline-filled show to do and challenging on every level. We had a lot to do in a very short period of time, but it was all extremely creative and everyone there was incredibly positive about wanting to do the best work possible. It really was a joyful experience."
Dawson also took great pleasure in revisiting her Star Trek roots when she directed multiple episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise. "My favorite episode is probably the first one I did [The Andorian Incident] because it was right at the beginning of it all," she notes. "It was about being on the ground level of still doing a franchise that had been around for 30 years. However, because this was sort of a prequel, it was a matter of going back and deciding, 'Well, when did these characters discover this? When did this knowledge come into being?' etc. On top of that, we were bringing in the whole Andorian element.
"So helping create something that had already been established was a great deal of fun, especially when it came to working with the cast. They treated me with a lot of respect because they knew I had done it for seven years and that I 'got it.' It was a very, very generous group of actors on Enterprise and all trying to find their characters, knowing that they were part of the franchise, but still looking to find their own voices, as we did on Voyager. It was neat for me to have that understanding and to look at them and go, 'I know what your days are like. I know what you're feeling right now and what you're going through.' I think that insight allowed me to better communicate with them. Again, they were all very nice, generous actors as well as people and I enjoyed getting to know them."