Actress Jennifer Lien is perhaps best known for her three year stint on Star Trek: Voyager.
She was born 24 August 1974, the youngest of three children of Delores Lien. She was raised alongside an older brother and older sister in Chicago, Illinois.
With encouragement from both her English teacher and a drama teacher, she joined the Illinois Theatre Center when she was thirteen years old. She performed in many productions, including Shakespeare’s Othello and The Tempest.
Her first television appearance was as twins in a bubblegum commercial. In 1990, she guest-starred as a music academy student in an episode of Brewster Place, starring Oprah Winfrey.
Just three years later, having been cast on ABC’s daytime soap opera Another World, she moved to New York City. She landed the newly-created role of Hannah Moore, a misfit orphan, and stayed with the show for the 1991-1992 television season.
In 1993, she played the role of Roanne in the Judith Light-helmed sitcom, Phenom.
After this, she did voice work, appearing on Adam Sandler’s debut comedy album, They’re All Gonna Laugh At You, and the pilot episode of The Critic.
In 1994, she was cast as Kes, an Ocampan, on Star Trek: Voyager, the fourth live-action series of the franchise. Of this role, she once commented that Kes was “wise and courageous while possessing an innocence.”
Kes and her lover, a Talaxian named Neelix, offered to join the crew as guides through the Delta Quadrant and in any other capacity they could serve.
Because of Ocampans’ short life spans of only nine years, they are very fast learners compared to humans. This, along with her inquisitive nature, made her an ideal assistant to the Holographic Doctor after the medical staff were killed when the Voyager was hurtled seventy-five thousand light years from Earth.
During Lien’s three year tenure with Star Trek: Voyager, she also lent her voice to animated series such as Duckman, The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest, and Superman.
In 1997, when Voyager’s producers decided to add Jeri Ryan, in the role of former Borg drone Seven of Nine, to the regular cast, Garrett Wang (Harry Kim) was in line to leave to keep the show under budget. Wang was named on of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in the World and the decision was made to keep him and let Lien go instead.
She harboured no bitterness over this, stating in an interview printed in Star Trek: Communicator, issue 134, that she “didn’t ask why [she] was not being renewed, [she] just said ‘okay’ and moved on.” Her final appearance as a regular cast member was in the second episode of the fourth season. Her character’s mental abilities expanded so much that she transcended physical form.
Lien made her motion picture debut in 1998 in the cult classic comedy SLC Punk! as Matthew Lillard’s girlfriend. The same year, she was in the critically-acclaimed film, American History X, as the sister of Edward Norton’s character.
She also voiced the adult Vitani in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride, which was released direct-to-video in 1998.
She provided the voice of Agent L on Men In Black: The Series for three years.
In 2000, she returned to Star Trek: Voyager in a special guest appearance in an episode titled Fury. An angry older Kes uses her advanced mental abilities in an attempt to alter the past.
She then appeared in Rubbernecking and produced as well as provided a voice for the animated science fiction series, Battle Force: Andromeda.
Lien and her husband, Phil Hwang, welcomed a son named Jonah on 5 September 2002.
Since then, she has not acted or done voice over work. She was, however, credited as an executive producer on her husband’s comedy film, Geek Mythology, in 2008.