JERI RYAN HAD A PROBLEM WITH space. Not outer, inner. Earlier this season the newest member of UPN’s Star Trek: Voyager cast was wedged into the tightest costume this side of Catwoman. “If I got goose bumps, it showed,” says Ryan, 29, who plays a half-human, half-Borg, a type of alien. “It was a big incentive not to eat things like cheesecake.”
The suit has been loosened—a little—but Ryan’s glam-factor has stayed high enough to make her character, called Seven of Nine, a hit (and lift the season premiere’s ratings over last spring’s cliff-hanger by a remarkable 63 percent). Ryan is at peace with the role. “It’s not the first time I’ve been cast as a sex symbol,” she says. “In a TV movie called Co-ed Call Girl, I was the head call girl.” And it’s not like Voyager has become Borgwatch. “We’re always interested in acting ability,” says executive producer Rick Berman. “And then there’s sexiness. You hope for both. With Jeri, we struck gold.”
Unfortunately, being a space siren limits Ryan from spending more time with her husband, investment banker Jack Ryan, 37, who lives in Chicago (because his clients are there) with then-son Alex, 3. On weekends, Ryan flies home or they visit her apartment in L.A., where the show tapes. “Being away from your child is one of the hardest things you can do,” she laments.
An Army brat—Ryan’s father, Jerry Zimmerman, retired as a master sergeant; mom Sharon is a former social worker—Ryan has lived all over the U.S. After graduating from Northwestern with a theater degree in 1990, she-acted in bit parts on Melrose Place and Murder, She Wrote before a stint last season in NBC’s short-lived Dark Skies.
On Voyager, Ryan is taking her character as seriously as a Trekker would. At a recent taping director Jesus Trevino asked her to sit on a sick-bay bed. “I think a Borg’s more comfortable standing,” said Ryan. “You would know,” he acceded. “You’re the Borg.”