A new project you can’t miss recently warped into the galaxy. Women Make Trek is a fan-based initiative that highlights women who’ve taken part in Star Trek over the years. Fans from all over will share their various kinds of art, whether it’s an oil painting, a hand-drawing, or a crocheted doll, all of which put the focus on some of our favorite stars and guest stars.
Created by Star Trek fans Laz Marquez and Heather Rae, Women Make Trek is bringing women to the forefront of the franchise and asking those who enjoy the project to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation as a way of giving back but also as a way of honoring Laz’s mother who passed away several years ago from the disease.
I had the pleasure of asking both Laz and Heather some questions about this initiative, including where they hope to see it go, the impact they hope it can have on fans of Star Trek, and how it can be used for positive change.
How did you get involved in the Women Make Trek project?
Laz: About a year ago, I started to realize that the online Star Trek fandom was becoming rather negative. My natural instinct would be to run away, but I realized there was an opportunity to re-engage the positivity. Being an artist/illustrator, I didn’t feel I had much to offer at the time. But then I realized that highlighting artists and especially artists that respect and value the contribution of the women characters in the franchise would help. Having been raised by a single mother and then seeing these female characters on-screen really crafted who I am and this is a way to give back.
Heather: Laz reached out and invited me to be his partner in this project. We’ve known each other for years, connecting online through Star Trek Discovery fandom, and my podcast was about to launch, which seemed like a perfect vehicle to spread the word. I’m a huge fan of Laz’s art and blessed to have seen our friendship evolve. This partnership and collaborative opportunity has truly been a gift.
What do you hope to accomplish with this series?
Heather: The Women Make Trek initiative came from the heart and a desire to bring positivity and celebration to Star Trek fandom after the difficulties of the past year. By hosting discussions with fan artists, actors, creatives and fans, my goal is not only to amplify the diverse and talented group of artists we’ve worked with, but to bring fans together through the joy and collaboration of exploring why we love the women of Star Trek so much!
Laz: I can’t follow-up Heather’s statement any better! Just to add on, we wish to really highlight the talent of fans and spotlight them as best as we can. The work we’ve already received is heartwarming. Not just because of the visual artwork, but also the statements each artist makes about how these characters have inspired or impacted them. We also, as a part of the initiative, encourage fans to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It’s a cause very near to our hearts and will help the heroines out there struggling just a bit more.
Are you hoping this initiative will encourage more women to watch Star Trek?
Heather: If it does, we’d love to know! Our incentive is to bring positivity to our fandom first and foremost, but I’m always holding the door open for new Star Trek fans!
Laz: I sure hope so! I think the franchise is certainly finding amazing ways to support their representation of women and show a larger range of what that means. Ultimately, we can do what we can to support the Trek legacy and hopefully inspire others.
Are there other Star Trek projects you’d like to do, or do you think you want to focus on growing this one?
Heather: I’m always open to new initiatives to help develop, launch, and amplify. I believe in living a Star Trek inspired life; part of that commitment begins with working towards bettering myself and helping others better our community (humanity, as well.)
Laz: At the moment, this is my focus while also supporting other initiatives/projects! I wish I could replicate myself and do more!
What kind of impact has Star Trek and the fandom had on your life personally?
Heather: I found Star Trek in my teens. Despite Voyager being the first series I watched – with a woman Captain on the bridge – I’d already been told that Star Trek wasn’t for me. Little did they realize how much I’d come to love the franchise later in life. It’s the fan community that drives my passion these days, not the shows or actors. There’s something special about Star Trek fans!
Laz: My first encounter with the Star Trek franchise was TNG. My first episode was “Encounter at Farpoint”. I was so intrigued, immediately, with Tasha Yar and became a big fan. Her story (though we should have gotten more) was so striking to me and I loved her strength. In addition, Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi were so unique and so strong, so I was in geek heaven. Being raised, again, by a single mother imbued me with a connection to strong women and I feel in their respective decades, the Franchise provided that.
What other personal projects do you have coming up?
Heather: My podcast Fanthropology debuts on the same day as the #WomenMakeTrek launch! We’ll continue to support content for the initiative throughout the year. Other episodes will focus on exploring humanity through fandom. (www.thefanthropod.com)
Laz: At the moment, it’s focused on #WomenMakeTrek and my commission work. Outside of Star Trek, I focus quite a lot on the horror genre, creating artwork for Scream Factory, Arrow Video and studios like New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, and Sony Pictures. I started drawing as soon as I could hold a piece of chalk or crayon and that continued throughout my entire life. The constant was always drawing strong women. I went to both The Art Institute of Philadelphia and The School of Visual Arts where I studied Painting, Sculpting and Graphic Design.