Jennifer Lien is an American former actress popular for her role as alien Kes on the television series Star Trek: Voyager. Beginning her career right from childhood, she took part in many stage works before making her presence felt in Hollywood. She featured in a handful of movies and TV series before taking a permanent break from acting in the early 2000s.
As a voice actress, Jennifer is mostly recognized for her role in Men in Black: The Series. In her over a decade career in Hollywood, she was able to receive an award for her sensational performance in the first three seasons of Star Trek: Voyager, for which she is still remembered, despite making news headlines in recent years for the wrong reasons.
Jennifer Prepped for Her Career at The Illinois Theatre Center
Born as Jennifer Anne Lien on August 24, 1974, in Illinois, the actress is the last of her parent’s three children. Lien became interested in acting from the time she was little and joined the Illinois Theatre Center when she was 13. During a 1993 interview, Jennifer related she used to pretend she was somebody else and would either write plays, watch movies, or read books when she was young.
She joined her school’s drama club when she was in seventh grade and while there, she discovered she could comfortably fit into acting.
Based on the advice of an eighth-grade teacher, Jennifer took an acting class and eventually got an agent. Subsequently, she featured in theatrical productions such as Shakespeare’s Othello and The Tempest. She also featured in musicals and it was not long before casting directors came calling and from there, her acting career took off.
Her Early Roles as an Actress
Jennifer Lien made her first appearance on television in a bubble gum advert and later made her debut in a TV series as a music academy student in an episode of Brewster Place, a 1990 ABC show. That same year, she served as the voice behind the dubbed English language version of a French horror film titled Baby Blood.
In 1991, the actress was cast as Hannah Moore in Another World and as a result, she moved to New York where it was filmed. While working on the series, Jennifer enrolled in Professional Children’s School where she graduated. From 1993 to 1994, she featured as Roanne in 22 episodes of Phenom and then moved on to play Valerie Cox in an episode of The Critic.
Lien’s Emergence as a Mainstream Actress
After appearing in many acting works for years, Jennifer Lien came to the limelight as a talented actress in 1995, when she began playing alien Kes in Star Trek: Voyager. She was cast as a regular in the series for three seasons, after which her contract was not renewed; although she rejoined the cast in season 6 and appeared in an episode titled Fury.
Following her performance in 68 episodes of the aforementioned series that grabbed 20 different awards out of 70 nominations, Jennifer Lien received Online Film & Television Association Award for Best Guest Actress in a Drama Series in the year 1998. Afterward, she had roles in The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest (1996), American History X (1998), SLC Punk! (1998), and Accidents Don’t Happen (2001).
Additionally, Lien has lent her amazing voice in a few animated works. She provided the voice of Inza Nelson in Superman: The Animated Series (1997), Elle/Agent L in 38 episodes of Men in Black: The Series (1997-2000), as well as Vitani in The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride (1998).
What Led to Jennifer Lien’s Absence from The Industry?
After the birth of her child on September 5, 2002, Jennifer Lien retired from acting. Nevertheless, in 2008, she worked alongside her filmmaker husband in a movie titled Geek Mythology, serving as the executive producer while her husband starred, wrote, directed, and also co-produced the film. Later in August 2010, she said she was taking health-related college courses with the intention of becoming either a dietician or nutritionist.
Things complicated for the actress thereafter as she had run-ins with the law which led to her being charged with various offenses. She was arrested for domestic assault in 2012 and in April 2015, she was again arrested and charged with evading arrest, resisting arrest, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault; this was after she rammed a police cruiser with her vehicle.
Jennifer managed to stay away from trouble in 2017 but in March 2018, she walked into the police net again. She was arrested for driving on a revoked license on the 2nd of March and just two weeks after, she committed the same offense and was arrested after a computer check was carried out and it revealed her license was revoked for a Driving Under Influence offense. Interestingly, since late 2018, Jennifer Lien has not had a run-in with the law again.
Here’s Why It Was Rumored She Has Mental Health Problems
In September 2015, Jennifer Lien got into trouble with the law and was arrested in her Roane County neighborhood. This was because she allegedly exposed herself in the presence of some children on August 31, 2015. According to her neighbor Carey Smith, Jennifer complained about her crying children and started saying vulgar things, ignoring Carey’s warning to mind her business.
During her tirade, the actress exposed her breasts and buttocks in the presence of two children who were in the yard. Carey called the attention of the police and when two officers arrived at her home with a warrant to arrest her on September 3, 2015, they met Lien naked under a blanket on her couch. The officers repeatedly asked her to get dressed but she refused, threatening to have them shot and killed.
Eventually, Lien was handcuffed and dressed up in a shirt and pants with the help of a female police officer and was forcefully carried to the police car because she refused to walk to the patrol vehicle. The actress was transported to the Roane County Detention Center and she stayed in police custody for a few weeks before getting a bail of $2,500.
As a result of her erratic behaviors within a short interval which landed her multiple charges, Judge Dennis Humphrey ordered Jennifer Lien to undergo a mental evaluation at Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute in Chattanooga to determine her competency in October 2015. She received mental health treatment for a few months after paying restitution worth $2,291.85 to the Harriman Police Department.
As such, it was rumored that the retired actress was suffering from mental health issues. Her two-count charge of exposing herself to children under the age of 13 was later dismissed in November 2016, after the actress paid restitution.
She Has Been Married to Phil Hwang for Years
The former actress is married to Phil Hwang, a writer and filmmaker known for Geek Mythology (2008) Outcall (2014), and Superboy: The Tween Years (2015). Although it’s not yet known when the two exchanged marital vows, it is a known fact that they have stayed married for over ten years. They have a son named Jonah; he was born on September 5, 2002.
Jennifer Lien is quite a private person. As such, she doesn’t have a social media presence. Given that, she has successfully kept details of her family life away from the prying eyes of the media.