Star Trek: Voyager, unlike its predecessors and successors in the long-running science fiction space opera television series, was less explorative and philosophical. Rather than the crew of a luxury space ship journeying through a galaxy and having adventures that thinly veiled commentary on the human condition, The Voyager had found itself caught in a quadrant of outer space by accident. The setting sparked a shift in focus to more urgent and immediate goals of fending off the monstrously unfriendly denizens of the quarter, and the crew members of The Voyager tended to have dodgier character histories than the crews of other Starfleet ships—prompting another unique focus, that of character development.
The captain of this particular lineage of adventuring was Admiral Kathryn Janeway, who has the distinction of playing the most morally-ambiguous captain in the Star Trek franchise, as well as the first and only female captain in the franchise to date.
In a 2002 interview with Andrew Scahill from Out In America, Mulgrew testified to having approached show producer Rick Berman “many, many times over the years about getting a gay character on the show—one whom we could really love, not just a guest star.” The show ran for seven years without a regular character who was gay. “I’m suspecting that on Enterprise—” a spinoff of Star Trek succeeding Voyager “—they will do something to this effect. I couldn’t get it done on mine,” said Mulgrew. “And I am sorry for that.”
Mulgrew returned to earth and to television in her role of Galina Reznikov, nicknamed “Red”, from Orange Is The New Black, a comedy-drama about women’s prison life that is groundbreaking in its portrayal of incarcerated women and lesbian relationships.
Mulgrew has also acted in a number of stageplays, from Desdemona in Shakespeare’s Othello, to the one-woman show that is Tea At Five (in which she played Katharine Hepburn), to Hester Saloman in Equus. She has lent her voice to animated series Batman and Gargoyles, as well as the Dragon Age video games.