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How Star Trek's First Lady Majel Barrett Was Embodied By The Next Generation's Lwaxana Troi, According To Son Rod Roddenberry

Majel Barrett-Roddenberry earned her title as the “First Lady of Star Trek” in many ways, but the late wife of Gene Roddenberry definitely laid claim through her various acting roles in the franchise over the years. Whether she was the voice of the ship or other computers (which paved the way for virtual assistants), Nurse Chapel or Number One (both of whom will appear in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds), Barrett gave her all for a role in a way that inspired others. With that said, there are few characters she embodied more than one who many know and love from The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine: Lwaxana Troi. 

Playing the Betazoid Federation ambassador and Deanna Troi’s mother Lwaxana was one of Majel Barrett’s greatest roles, so it’s no surprise it came up during a recent conversation with Rod Roddenberry about her legacy. I asked Roddenberry, the son of Majel and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, which of Barrett’s roles she cherished most and got a little story about how well she embodied the role of Lwaxana.

You know it’s hard for me to say without her being here, but I could tell you that Lwaxana, she lit up. I remember the day I came home from school and she had – you know the Betazoids have these sort of black eyes and so she had those [on] in the kitchen and I walked in and looked at her, and I kind of did one of those double-takes and she kept looking at me and trying to show me her eyes. I was like ‘What the?’ and so she explained to me her character... I was still pretty young at the time so I didn’t really understand it but when I saw her on-screen I didn’t say ‘That’s Lwaxana Troi.' I said, ‘That’s my mom.’ So, they put a lot of her into that character.

There’s no denying that out of all the roles that Majel Barrett played for Star Trek, Lwaxana Troi is one of the most complex. It’s no surprise that a young Rod Roddenberry saw her as a living version of his own mother, even with all the makeup. 

Lwaxana Troi ultimately served as another example of a strong woman in Star Trek, which Rod Roddenberry described as similar to his mother. I asked Roddenberry if the similarities in the character made Lwaxana his favorite as well, and he confirmed. 

Yes, I do have to say that is my favorite. It really showed her. I mean, my mother was an incredibly strong woman. She was over the top, she spoke her mind. She didn’t let anyone or any man get in her way, in real life as well. That is something that I think she really cherished and loved, and I love seeing her do it.

It seems that Rod Roddenberry's love of the character is rooted in its authenticity to his mother, which makes it a great memorial to her life. Majel Barrett passed away in December of 2008, but she’ll get another send-off in the upcoming space flight for Celestis later in 2022. Barrett’s ashes will travel to space alongside Gene Roddenberry’s ashes, and thanks to new technology, Rod Roddenberry was able to send his own genome into the stars alongside his parents. It’s certainly a great way to honor her legacy and a great gesture for one of science fiction’s most impactful families

Majel Barrett’s works in the Star Trek franchise are all available over on Paramount+ (opens in new tab). Snag a Paramount+ subscription now to revisit Lwaxana Troi’s greatest episodes, and stick around for all the new Trek shows arriving in 2022 as well. 

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.