Jennifer Lien

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Jennifer Lien
Born Jennifer Anne Lien
August 1974 (age 44)
Palos Heights, Illinois, U.S.
Education Professional Children's School
Occupation Actress
Years active 1990-2002
Spouse(s) Phil Hwang
Children 1

Jennifer Anne Lien (born August 1974)[1] is an American former actress, best known for playing the alien Kes on the television series Star Trek: Voyager.

Early life

Jennifer Ann Lien was born in Illinois in August 1974, the youngest of three children, and joined the Illinois Theatre Center at the age of 13.[1]

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."[2]

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 (Another World). They liked me, asked me to come to New York, so here I am!”[3]


Her first television appearance was in a bubblegum advertisement playing twins.[4] Her first appearance on a television series was playing a music academy student in an episode of Brewster Place starring Oprah Winfrey in 1990, 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 in the role of Hannah Moore on the series Another World in 1991, where she attended and graduated the Professional Children's School while working on this series.[5]

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!”[6]

In 1993, she was cast as Roanne in Phenom, a sitcom starring Judith Light. That year 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...".[7]

In 1994, she was cast as Kes on Star Trek: Voyager. Her character is Ocampan, a species in the Star Trek universe that lives for just 8 or 9 years, who joins the crew of the starship after it is stranded 75,000 light-years from Earth.[8] She was released from the series at the beginning of season 4, to allow the budget to bring on Jeri Ryan, who joined the cast as Seven of Nine. In 2000, Lien returned for a season 6 episode of Star Trek: Voyager titled "Fury", where she had input into the script.[9]

In a 1995 interview, Lien said the following about a Voyager co-star: “I’m so lucky that so many of my scenes are with Ethan. He’s such an incredibly talented guy, really great and so funny. He’s always making us laugh. It’s the best possible situation for an actress to play opposite him.”[10]

In a 1996 interview, Lien said the following about two Voyager co-stars: “I was working on a scene in Sickbay the other day with Kate and Bob Picardo, and they - they know what they’re doing. They’re both such good actors. I thought, ‘Oh, God, I’m so lucky to be here!’ I didn’t say anything to them because - I don’t know why I didn’t say anything. It’s probably just not the kind of thing you say to people. I was seeing talent, experience and wisdom in action, inventiveness and creativity happening in front of me. It’s a good job I have.”[11]

Richard Lutz wrote: "The character which best embodies the humane values embedded in Star Trek mythology 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 remind us that the most important element in a life worth living is a loving connection with our fellow human beings."[12]

After Voyager, Lien appeared in the movie American History X as older sister Davina Vinyard alongside Edward Norton's character Derek Vinyard. In 1998, Lien appeared in SLC Punk! playing Sandy, the wild girlfriend of Matthew Lillard's character Stevo. She also voiced Agent "L" for the first three seasons of Men in Black: The Animated Series (1997-1999) and the first 7 episodes of the 2000 season.


Lien has attended sci-fi 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 form 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.”[11]

Personal life

She is married to writer and filmmaker Phil Hwang; their first child, Jonah, was born on September 5, 2002.[13] Since the birth of her son, Lien has retired from acting and voice-over work; however, she was credited as executive producer on her husband's 2008 film Geek Mythology.[14]

In August 2010, Lien said she intended to work as a nutritionist after completing her studies.[9]

In July 2012, Lien was arrested in Harriman, Tennessee, for an alleged domestic assault.[15]

In April 2015, Lien was arrested in Harriman, Tennessee and charged with evading arrest, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault in relation to an alleged speeding offence.[16]

In September 2015, Lien was arrested in Harriman, Tennessee for two counts of misdemeanor exposure after allegedly exposing herself to a child under the age of 13. During an argument with a neighbor (which reportedly started with Lien criticizing her neighbor's parenting skills after her children began crying),[17] Lien allegedly exposed her breasts and buttocks after being told to "mind her own business."[18] Lien reportedly threatened the police who arrested her.[17][18]



Year Title Role Notes
1990 Baby Blood Yanka (voice) Voice-over debut
1998 American History X Davina Vinyard
1998 Hoofboy N/A Short (18 min)
1998 The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride Young Adult Vitani Uncredited
1998 SLC Punk! Sandy
2001 Rubbernecking Nurse


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Brewster Place Music Academy Student Episode: "One Small Step at a Time"
1991–1992 Another World Hannah Moore Unknown episodes
1993–1994 Phenom Roanne 22 episodes
1994 The Critic Valerie Fox Episode: "The Pilot"
1995 Inside the New Adventure: Star Trek - Voyager Herself TV special
1995–2000 Star Trek: Voyager Kes 68 episodes
1996 Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man Movie Actress (voice) Episode: "Apocalypse Not"
1996 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Elise (voice) Episode: "Eclipse"
1996 Star Trek: 30 Years and Beyond Herself / Kes TV special
1997 Superman Inza Nelson (voice) Episode: "The Hand of Fate"
1997–2000 Men in Black: The Series Elle (voice) 40 episodes
1998 Spawn Merrick (voice) Episode: "Hellzapoppin"
2003 Battle Force: Andromeda Alora (voice, rumored) 2 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
Pre 1992 Androcles and the Lion Lavinia Illinois Theatre Center
Pre 1992 Edmund Glenna Illinois Theatre Center
Pre 1992 Emergency Room Shiela Brooks Illinois Theatre Center
Pre 1992 Othello Bianca Illinois Theatre Center
Pre 1992 The Tempest Miranda Illinois Theatre Center
Pre 1992 Show Boat N/A Illinois Theatre Center
Pre 1992 When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder? Cheryl Illinois Theatre Center


  1. 1.0 1.1 Simpson, P.; Thomas, R. (March 2000). "Kes & Tell". Star Trek Monthly (76): 28–32.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Reiner, Jonathan (18 August 1992). "She's Only Just Begun". Soap Opera Weekly. 3 (33): 33.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Staff writer (March 1993). "I Was the Worst Child". Daytime TV. 11 (3): 50.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Eramo, Steven (December 1996). "Jennifer Lien - Nine Year Wonder". TV Zone (23): 18–21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Giordana, Lucille (1992). "Growing Up Is Great". Daytime TV. 23 (4): 39.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Staff writer (1992). "Roundup - Q: What Things Have You Said That You Wish You Hadn't?". Soap Opera Digest. 17 (20): 124. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  9. 9.0 9.1 "Star Trek Catching Up with Jennifer Lien". 9 August 2010. Retrieved 2012-11-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  11. 11.0 11.1 Spelling, Ian (1996). "Innocent Abroad". Starlog (227): 41–43.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Lutz, Richard (August 2015). "Social Cohesiveness" (PDF). Human Rights Coalition (Australia). Retrieved 2015-08-31.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Jennifer Lien News". Retrieved 2010-08-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Jennifer Lien". Movies Non Stop. Retrieved 2015-09-26.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  16. Lawrence, Damon (23 April 2015). "Police: Woman rams cruiser". Roane Country News. Retrieved 2015-08-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. 17.0 17.1 Stedman, Alex (15 September 2015). "'Star Trek: Voyager' Actress Jennifer Lien Arrested for Indecent Exposure". Variety. Retrieved 2015-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Staff writer (15 September 2015). "Star Trek: Voyager's 'Kes' charged with exposing herself to children in Harriman". Retrieved 2015-09-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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