In the role of “Sekara” in “What Ships Are For,” Los Angeles and Austin-based actress Elizabeth Maxwell believes STAR TREK is again telling a story that needs to be told.
Maxwell says she got involved with STAR TREK CONTINUES because she and Vic Mignogna “run in the same professional circles,” with both doing extensive voiceover work for the same companies. “I attended Paradise City Comicon, and Vic and Michele Specht and I got to know each other over the weekend. He said there was an episode coming up that he thought I would be good for, and he suggested reading over the script and sending over a taped audition. Of course, I was immediately game to do so!” Maxwell had seen a couple of the previous STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes, so she was certainly familiar with the web series.
“When I read the script, it was like something discovered from Gene Roddenberry’s lost archives. I have this strong, intuitive connection to Sekara. "I immediately understand where this character’s mind and heart are. After sending in the audition I got the call. That was a very good day. They say in this industry that you do two projects for the money and one for you, paraphrasing Clint Eastwood. Well this one was for me,” Maxwell said.
“I grew up on STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine and STAR TREK: The Next Generation, so I was very familiar with the universe. But I remember a good friend’s dad watching The Original Series on TV. Actually, watching the first couple of STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes made me curious enough to go back and watch more of the original episodes.”
“I am so impressed with writer Kipleigh Brown’s teleplay for Episode Nine. I literally got chills when I finished reading that script. I couldn’t believe how in alignment with the STAR TREK universe it felt. It was smart and topical.”
The actress says the STAR TREK CONTINUES production team helped her feel at home.
“It felt like joining both a family and being part of history. It was one of those really special projects that you come out of it and you feel like you’re a different person because of it. One of the things that was so special about this project is that everybody who was involved with it – from directors and producers to the production crew handling make-up, sets, and lighting -- everyone was there because of a shared passion and belief in what we are doing. Everyone working on STAR TREK CONTINUES has a true conviction that the show is really special. That created a kind of bond that I found to be unique and rare in the entertainment industry. There was so much love and respect and passion from every person involved.”
“We shot the episode in early February in Georgia. There was a lot of work to figure out Sekara’s makeup, such as painting my entire body yellow with specific makeup on top of that. As I recall it took about three hours of makeup in the morning to get ready each day. And it took about 90 minutes every night to get scrubbed clean,” Maxwell remembers.
“I have been accused of being ‘too method,’ and the scene in the transporter room where I see color for the first time was a challenge. I was told to be careful, and I was in heels on the transporter platform. But, of course, I got way too into it and ended up stumbling down the stairs and falling. So I was left with twin scars on my kneecaps.”
One perk of working on STC’s Episode Nine was acting alongside John de Lancie. “Getting to hear John talk and do his monologues meant getting goosebumps going up and down my arms. He is very charismatic.”
“My character, Sekara, represents a lot of the positive potential of humanity. She is optimistic and curious and intelligent. And I guess innocent is a good word, but not naïve. There’s an endearing level of curiosity about her. She came from a hermit race. And then she was exposed to a lot of things at once, as an adult. It was really refreshing to view the world through her eyes.”
“I have my own little tricks as an actor, to kind of create a backstory for myself and to get into the character’s head. It involves a lot of journaling and playing ‘make believe’ when I’m alone. Of course, I watched all of the STAR TREK CONTINUES episodes that have been produced. And I did watch as many of the The Original Series episodes as I could get my hands on. It gave me a good grasp of more of the style of the acting that would fit into the universe.”
Maxwell notes there are differences between acting for the TV screen in the 1960’s and today.
“It’s a very different style than what is common today. It’s more theatrical – almost even operatic. If you look at Sci-Fi shows and movies, there are a lot of different ways they communicate the story and the intensity – visual effects, music, and other elements. With STAR TREK and other shows from the 1960’s, they didn’t have the benefit of sophisticated, computer-based special effects. So the actors had the responsibility of carrying more. They had to communicate both the intensity and the direness of the situation. I think that modern acting tends to be more subtle.”
Maxwell grew up primarily in northern California, and then pursued acting in college in Los Angeles. And she says it’s her older brother, Hampton, who is most excited about her appearance in a STAR TREK CONTINUES episode.
“He’s kind of been my geek mentor for my entire life. He introduced me to all the geeky things -- video games, anime, and science fiction. He was the person who held my hand and introduced me to this genre.”