Deep Space Nine Star Nana Visitor Says Star Trek 'Offers Hope, And It Offers A Way To Get There' [Exclusive]

"Deep Space Nine" fans were in for a treat this week with the return of Nana Visitor to the "Star Trek" franchise — in animated form. For Visitor, voicing her veteran "DS9" character, Kira Nerys, on "Lower Decks" meant stepping back into a role that she had not played on TV in many years. "DS9" aired its series finale in 1999, and Visitor reprised her role as Kira in the 2000 "Deep Space Nine: The Fallen" video game, but after that, it would be another 18 years before we heard her as Kira again in the "Star Trek Online" game.

The world has changed greatly since 1999, but as /Film's Danielle Ryan observed in an interview with Visitor, "Star Trek" has been enjoying renewed popularity via streaming shows, especially "Lower Decks" and "Strange New Worlds." When asked about the enduring appeal of "Trek" and its Paramount+ resurgence, Visitor cited the franchise's hopefulness and power to inspire, saying:

"'Star Trek' offers hope, and it offers a way to get there. I'm reading Frank White's book, 'The Overview Effect,' and it's basically talking about how astronauts, once they see the world from the perspective of space, all the separations, all the issues, all the fighting just seem silly. We're all spacemen on this planet, all together spinning around. So I think 'Star Trek,' by being set in the future, gives people a very safe, non-threatening way to look at new ideas, to look at diversity, to look at what's next, to look at space travel and what engineers and space engineers and astronauts and scientists are seeming to tell us where we need to go. We need to go up and out, not only for the exploration and for the opportunities, but also to help the Earth."

'What do we do if there's some big rock coming at us?'

Just this week, NASA made headlines even on entertainment sites with its mission to boldly go where Michael Bay had gone before (in the movie "Armageddon"), and slam a spacecraft into an asteroid to change its orbit. This is something that Visitor alluded to as she discussed why space exploration might be worth the investment:

"I'm doing a book on the women of 'Star Trek,' and not just the women who were involved in making it, but the women who were affected by it. And I was recently at [the European Space Agency], and the satellites that they have up in the air, some people can have this feeling that it's all about we're spending a lot of money on just space. But no, we're spending a lot of money in figuring out, which just happened yesterday, what do we do if there's some big rock coming at us? Can we divert it? What's going on with the weather? I mean, satellites are a huge way for us to understand ourselves and the Earth."

Visitor also talked about "Star Trek" "making new little scientists and sparking interests" in people, one of those being a "woman growing up in the Italian mountains who watches 'Star Trek' and goes, 'Oh, it's okay for a woman to be an engineer.' And she grows up to be Samantha Cristoforetti," she said.

Cristoforetti is the first European woman to command the International Space Station. She was inspired by "Star Trek" and has even been pictured wearing a Starfleet uniform in space, which just goes to show the immense influence and global (even extraterrestrial) reach the franchise has. As Visitor put it, "That's why ['Star Trek' is] important."