Roxann Dawson Explains Why She Turned Down Chance To Direct New Star Trek TV

Roxann Dawson followed the proud tradition of Star Trek actors who found their calling in directing, beginning when she was playing B’Elanna Torres on Star Trek: Voyager in the 1990s. With new Star Trek series being produced for Paramount+, many fans have asked about the possibility of her returning to the franchise as a director. Dawson’s own words explain why her creative projects will likely take her in a different direction.

After a Breakthrough, Dawson finds a new Foundation

Having worked as a director on dozens of TV shows across a wide variety of genres from crime procedurals to horror and even superheroes, Roxann Dawson consistently sought new challenges in new material. With each passing year, seeking new creative frontiers took her further and further away from her beginnings on the final frontier. In order for Dawson to return to science fiction, she was going to have to find the right project. Apple TV’s Foundation was it. When offering Dawson a spot directing the show, creator David Goyer piqued her interest by insisting that Foundation would be a considerable departure from her work on Star Trek. In a recent /Film interview, Dawson describes what brought her back to science fiction:

And I remember, I probably shouldn’t say this, but one of the first things [David Goyer] said to me, he goes, ‘You know, we’re not going to be shooting ‘Trek’ here. This is not ‘Star Trek.’ I went, ‘Yes, I understand. I understand.’

Goyer’s words struck Dawson, who despite not working on Star Trek for many years, continues to have great respect for what CBS is currently producing. Her work on Foundation was done with the understanding that it was going in a direction different from Star Trek—new or old. She continues:

And I was kind of like, ‘Well, have you really seen ‘Star Trek?” The current versions of ‘Star Trek’ I think are wonderful. I’ve seen ‘Discovery,’ I’ve seen ‘Picard.’ I think there’s such wonderful and modern work being done there right now that we really can’t categorize it in the way that we might have in the ’90s. But no, I haven’t really wanted to go back. I feel like I’ve been there and I’ve done that, and I love moving on to other things. So that’s where I am at with it.

Dawson has directed four episodes of Foundation, including the penultimate episode of season 2.

Lee Pace and Laura Birn from the Foundation episode “Long Ago, Not Far Away,” directed by Dawson (Apple)

Could this return to science fiction with Foundation signal a possible future return to Star Trek? According to Dawson, conversations have been had, but the projects that Star Trek offered aren’t a next step for someone already steeped in science fiction. As she told /Film:

I have thought about it, and they have kindly also come to me about a few of the shows, but I think at the time they were starting to come out, I hadn’t done science fiction in a while and I was trying to move away from that — I didn’t feel a need to go back. And then this science fiction show [Foundation] came up, so this was the first science fiction that I’d done in a while.

Roxann Dawson as B’Elanna Torres in Star Trek: Voyager (Paramount)

The final frontier was just the beginning

Roxann Dawson’s reluctance to return continues to surprise some fans due to her initial success with the Star Trek franchise. While a cast member on Star Trek: Voyager, Dawson had the opportunity to direct “Riddles” in season 6 and “Workforce, Part II” in season 7. She also directed at least one episode in each season of Enterprise, often more than one. Her transition into directing Trek was a product of the extremely supportive atmosphere she found with Paramount. Speaking at a June 2014 event organized by the DGA Latino Committee, Dawson looked back at her beginnings with much gratitude:

I am the luckiest director out there because I began a directing career with people who didn’t want me to fail, that wanted me to succeed. […] Paramount became my school. You learn so much from watching other directors tackle problems.

Roxann Dawson on the set of Star Trek: Enterprise (

Dawson’s directing experience with Star Trek quickly carried over into other shows. Following Voyager, she worked on dozens of other series. She found a great deal of value in directing TV show episodes. Talking with Director’s Guild of America podcast The Directors Cut, Dawson elaborated:

That’s the wonderful thing about being an episodic director. If you do several shows in a season, and they’re all different, I mean you get to just jump into all these different ways of shooting and study them and get good at them and embrace them. And I think that is the gift of being an episodic director… and also the obligation: to really take that seriously and to learn and study every show that you’re going into and make sure that you understand their visual language and make it happen with your own twist.

It was the move to feature film which gave Dawson the opportunity to elevate her craft even more. Her directorial debut, Breakthrough, was released in 2019. It dramatized the real-life story of a St. Louis teen revived after a drowning accident. Being at the helm of her own production, Dawson enjoyed the creative freedom that came with not needing to answer to a television showrunner, but it was the script itself that excited her about the project. “I was really doing something I believed in.” Dawson told The Director’s Cut. Breakthrough went on to become the first movie released by Fox following its purchase by Disney.

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While her comments do not completely preclude a return to Star Trek, Roxann Dawson has explained that what would bring her back would be a chance to grow creatively, and she doesn’t see that coming from returning to her former home.

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TBH, her work on Foundation is absolutely stunning. It’s Game of Thrones-level cinematic quality.

Agreed- the visuals on that show are unprecedented on episodic sci-fi.

Completely agree. Her episodes have been the peak of both seasons for me.

if only they were actually making Asimov’s Foundation. Whatever show they ARE making does look great, but Foundation it aint.

I knew Roxann had a prolific directing career, but it wasn’t until her incredible work on “Foundation” that I looked up her IMDB. She has more directing credits than Robert Duncan McNeil or Frakes! She really has the most successful post Star Trek career among the entire cast, loved discovering this.

Also, Foundation is phenomenal! My favorite sci-fi show in decades!

I recently listened to her interview with Robbie and Garret on the Delta Flyers. She’s a pretty amazing person, we are lucky to have had her in Star Trek.

She simply doesn’t want to be typecast.

Love Dawson and completely understand why she doesn’t want to direct more Star Trek. But maybe she will in the future. But I seen a lot of her episodes, even for shows I never seen. I’m happy she’s become so successful.

I heard about the movie she made but never watched it. Never even knew what it was about until now. I’m going to go find it and check it out.

Wow, pretty impressive resume on IMBD. She’s worked on some great shows, good for her. I haven’t seen Foundation yet, but plan to.

Given how Star Trek is now more about character relationships, Star Wars and juvenile cartoons than science fiction I think she made a great move,

Guess you don’t watch TREK if that’s what you’re getting from it.

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There’s an interview with her on the official Foundation podcast, season 2, episode 8. They talk a lot about that episode, but also about her background and her work.

Wow, she really stlll looks like herself going by these pics. Is there a possibility that wearing foam latex for years actually does some people’s pores some good? (am thinking Dorn’s skin is in pretty fair shape as well.)

With respect to stuff I’ve seen of hers, she directed an episode of the best show none of you have ever seen, called GOOD GIRLS REVOLT (apparently killed after the pilot and then re-killed after the first season by some male at Amazon who got his panties in a bunch over it), plus some good work on BOSCH, HELL ON WHEELS and THE AMERICANS.

The upcoming DARK MATTER series she is directing sounds pretty good too.

I couldn’t get into FOUNDATION at all (had even reread the original trilogy in anticipation, but naaahhh …) but I’ll be interested in seeing if she succumbs to the ‘issue’ I have with most contemporary TV directors, that they and their cinematographers seem to work overtime at introducing needless visual aberrations into their imagery (sort of this decade’s equivalent to Abrams’ moronic lens flares), like dollying past pieces of crystal in the foreground.

I’d so love to see somebody secure enough in their approach (and confident enough in the written material) to just stage a well-composed master and let the actors do their thing in realtime without going cut-happy and twitching the camera this way and that. I’m not asking for or expecting things to play like THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES every time out, but geez, whose attention span are you catering to with all these gimmicks? It’s like these creatives can only aspire to doing a contemporary equivalent to shooting through keyholes.

She directed several episodes of a PBS Civil War drama series called Mercy Street that was very good. She has a lot of range across multiple genres. It’s not surprising that she wanted to escape being typecast as a science fiction director when she was starting her directing career. She succeeded very well.

I hate shaky cam, it makes most movies it is used in unwatchable for me.

Voyager, Enterprise, Crossing Jordan, The Mentalist, Touch, Under the Dome, Colony, Shooter, House of Cards, The Americans, The Morning Show, Foundation, and soon Dark Matter: I’ve been enjoying her work as a director for decades, and I always smile when I see her name in the opening credits. She’s one of the greats. Though I really think she should direct a feature film at some point.

She has directed a feature film. It’s called “Breakthrough”. The article talks about it.


dark matter? is this show still on?

Roxann is the great post Trek success story that no one talks about that much. She does seem very busy.

Wow, I had no idea how prolific of a director she is! I didn’t even know she’s been directing Foundation. While I’ve been a bit torn on the story Foundation is telling, the directing has been top-notch.

She does great work. Pity that Foundation is a POS (a beautiful one, I’ll admit) that goes in every way against the books. Apple should have saved the rights money and called it anything else. Or hire someone other than Goyer that had a minimum of respect for the material.

Glad I’m not the only one who found the F series wanting. Goyer is another of these folks — Andrew Niccol is my go-to for this — who seemed to be aces early on and then u-turned creatively. (That’s as opposed to folks like Goldsman and Logan who never seemed to deliver, except on projects that had many other hands involved or were adaptations that only required mildly creative retyping.)

For me, the first season was a absolute slog but really enjoyed the second. It deviates pretty far from the source, so it’s more ‘inspired by’ then an adaption (I think it says as much in the credits).

A lot of people have said it’s a hard trilogy to straight adapt to TV or Film, with the time jumps and character changes.

it’s hard only if you don’t respect the audience’s ability to keep up – which is bascially what Goyer has said in his left-handed comments of wanting to make it accesible for people outside of the fan base. Which, for all of it’s problems and changes, at least Peter Jackson with Lord of the Rings (…no mention of the Hobbit here) mostly respected the material and knew the audience would come because the material itself is classic.

The BBC Foundation audio drama from the late 60s is *outstanding* and a fine representation of a trilogy adaptation and what respect for the material as well as an understanding of the necessary medium adjustments can be done w/ the original material.

Have not had the chance to check out Foundation (know nothing about the books). Some online have described it as ‘Game of Throwns in space”. If so, it may not be my cup of tea. I will try to see it regardless.

I wonder if she would make an exception to direct a theatrical Star Trek movie. Glad to hear her career is going well.

It has as much to do with Asimov’s books as the I, Robot movie with Will Smith. But its a good show despite all that.

We are talking about directing here, what about acting!? Would like very much to see Roxann as B’Elanna again, in any format, live action or animated. I had no idea how busy and successful she has been as a director. So glad for her success.

Back then when Voyager launched in 1995, as a Latino I was delighted to learn the new crew will have Mexican American and Puerto Rican actors, it was a big surprise for me.

I know this is not relevant for everyone, but for Latino Star Trek Fans, it was and it is a big thing. In the US, Latino characters were always invisible or simply the bad guys, the villains. Specially male actors. Ricardo Montalbán was the first Latino actor in Star Trek. Dawson and Beltran were the first lead characters to be part of a Star Trek show.

For many of us, Latinos, having B’Elanna and Chakotay in VOY, was the same feeling for African Americans having Nichelle Nichols in TOS and Avery Brooks In DS9.

She must be very busy, but really hope she could consider a special participation in the current/upcoming productions.

If her IMDB page is correct, her last acting role was more than 10 years ago, and she did very little acting in the years before. Seems like she decided to stop acting and focus on directing.
So if there’s a chance of her reprising the role of B’Elanna, I would guess it might be for an animated guest spot -> less time and no alien make-up required. A series regular role, let alone one in live action, seems less likely given her work focus.

So that means if she comes back, will be for the fans and her VOY family. She had a great character. Hope she could return to the franchise again in her future.

I was willing to give FOUNDATION a decent shot, understanding full well going in that it wouldn’t be Asimov’s Foundation. But it proved to be too much of a departure from the source material for my tastes, both in substance and spirit, and after about five episodes I gave it up.