Roxann Dawson: How She Made Religion A Career After Star Trek

By Rick Gonzales | 5 months ago

Roxann Dawson

Roxann Dawson is best known in front of the camera as the half-human/half-Klingon Lt. B’Elanna Torres in the series Star Trek: Voyager. Now, we say in front of the camera because Dawson has made a name for herself behind the camera as well and might be better known around Hollywood as a director. Has she been doing either lately?


roxann dawson nightingales

Roxann Dawson’s acting career began a full decade before she landed her plum role in Star Trek: Voyager. They were bit parts in shows such as the soap opera Another World, A Chorus Line, Ohara, Broken Angel, and The Fortunate Pilgrim. Dawson’s first major role came in the 1989 series Nightingales, a medical drama series that followed five nursing students played by Dawson, Chelsea Field, Susan Walters, Kristy Swanson, and Kim Johnston Ulrich, their supervisor played by Suzanne Pleshette, and love interest Gil Gerard. The show lasted 13-episodes and was critically ravaged for demeaning the nursing profession. Ouch.

Not phased by the poor critical reception of Nightingales, Dawson moved on. She appeared in Baywatch, Matlock, Jake and the Fatman, The Round Table, The Hat Squad, and The Untouchables. She also appeared in the TV movies Dirty Work, Mortal Sins, Pointman, and Greyhounds before Star Trek beamed into her life.


roxann dawson star trek voyager

When the producers were casting for Star Trek: Voyager’s B’Elanna, they were looking for an actress who could convey the inner struggle of being half human and half Klingon. They were also looking for someone young as B’Elanna was described as a 25-year old. At the time of her audition, Roxann Dawson was 36-years old. Minds were changed when Dawson read for the part.

Dawson played B’Elanna as a character of growth. She was an unruly character at the beginning, maturing over the seven seasons of the series. During the series’ fourth season, Dawson became pregnant with her first child. Not wanting to write her character out for the season, the producers decided to hide her pregnancy with a lab coat and various camera positions. There was an episode during season four where the crew was forced to participate in a holodeck recreation which allowed Dawson to shed her lab coat as she portrayed a pregnant woman in World War II.

During Roxann Dawson’s years on Voyager, she double-dipped from time to time. She was seen in the movie Darkman III: Die Darkman Die and The Lost World as well as the series Any Day Now and Seven Days.

After her time on Voyager came to an end, Roxann Dawson’s acting career slowed down immensely. She showed up on the TV series The Division, The Lyon’s Den, Coupling, and Without a Trace and that would be just about all fans would hear from her on the acting front. Thankfully, though, Roxann Dawson was not done in Hollywood.


roxann dawson director

Roxann Dawson has a litany of directing credits. She first got behind the camera in 1999 when she saddled up to direct an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. She would follow that up by directing another episode in 2001. The bug had bitten and was beginning to take effect. Her success directing on Voyager took her over to another Star Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise where she got plenty of time behind the camera. She took on 10-episodes of the series, continuing to build her directing resume.

Her love for being in control behind the camera was truly beginning to show. She no longer was looking at acting gigs but instead, she was looking to direct. Her sole focus fell on TV series work and she found plenty of it. Some of the episodes she directed were on shows such as Lost, Crossing Jordan, Cold Case, Melrose Place, The Mentalist, The Good Wife, and Vegas. She was really beginning to forge a director’s name for herself around town. She was hired for Under the Dome, Major Crimes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Colony, Rosewood, Runaways, and The Americans. This all led Roxann Dawson to her “Breakthrough.”


breakthrough movie

You can’t talk about Roxann Dawson and not speak of her faith. When she was a child, she was raised agnostic or atheist. Religion wasn’t important in her household early on, but Dawson felt deep down that her family’s lack of religion just wasn’t right. “I can look back at my journals, examining how I knew that there was a God, but couldn’t quite figure out how to contact him as a child. Throughout high school and college, I was sort of on a search. I explored everything from Buddhism to going to different churches and trying to figure out where I belonged,” the actress-turned-director told The Daily Signal.

It wasn’t until she met her future husband (Eric Dawson) that she began to attend the Catholic Church. “It all made sense to me, and I really felt at home. Eric and I were married in the Catholic Church in 1994. It is something that is now just a part of me, and I am profoundly glad that this is where I ended up.”

Roxann Dawson

But for some reason, religion and Hollywood are like oil and water, fire and ice. They don’t mesh. Dawson began to find it hard to take on roles if they weren’t aligning with her beliefs. “Hollywood is very secular. Admittedly, this is where it’s fine to make fun of people of faith. When I bring up aspects of faith, especially with Breakthrough, I’ll have people behind the scenes come and whisper in my ear, ‘You know, I’m a Christian, too.’ They want to talk about their beliefs, but it’s not done in overt ways,” she would say again to The Daily Signal.

Then she really started to pick apart scenes her character was in, asking that age-old question, “Why?” Why would her character do this, say this? So when Breakthrough was offered to her, she felt immediately at ease. “What I loved about Breakthrough is that it was my vision. Now, I feel there is a spiritual path that I’m on that aligns with my career—for it to feed me, and for me to feed it in a way.”


Breakthrough is Roxann Dawson’s feature film directorial debut and it is the true story of John Smith, who fell through the ice on a St. Louis lake and was underwater for 15 minutes before resuscitation efforts could get started. The whole story, the true story and the film, is faith-based.

During the rescue efforts, the two divers could not find Smith. As they were about to give up, one of the voices heard a voice tell him to go back and he did. He found Smith and they got him out of the lake. The young man was not breathing and there was no pulse but they got him to the emergency room.

When the doctors couldn’t coax a pulse out of Smith, the doctors gave his mom a chance to say her goodbyes. As she held him, she begged for the Holy Spirit to save her son. Smith got a faint pulse. He was coming back to his mother. Doctors were not confident the young man would be nothing more than a vegetable, having been clinically dead for such a long time. But his mother’s continued efforts of prayer brought him back, gave him life, and is living a full life now.

breakthrough movie roxann dawson

“I see it as a testament to the power of faith, the power of prayer, the power of love. All of these things are completely aligned with what I believe. The story gave me chills and inspired me. It gave me hope,” she said. The movie received much better than average reviews, with Dawson’s skilled hand and faith leading the way.

For the foreseeable future, it continues to be the directing road for Roxann Dawson. She has found her place in Hollywood, her Christian faith is a centerpiece of her life and it’s unwavering.

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