ALDE Chapter Leader Explores Strange New Worlds:
Danielle Ward Boldly Goes into Star Trek Cosplay

October 2018

Lori Solyom 

Danielle Ward: President of the ALDE Chicago Chapter; Senior Donor Relations Specialist for The AONE Foundation for Nursing Leadership Research and Education; wife and mother; extraterrestrial space alien … what?

When she’s not busy raising funds for her foundation or developing ALDE experiences for her Chicago development colleagues, Danielle might be found sporting pointy ears and beautifully unusual skin markings, as she engages in Star Trek-themed cosplay (short for costume play).

Danielle’s theater background, and her love of dressing up at Halloween, led her to don a costume for a 2014 Star Trek convention. “I put together some pretty basic costumes, mostly using what I had in my closet and some easy(ish) makeup,” she said. She found that those at the convention were welcoming and appreciative of her effort, and willing to share their own tips and tricks.

While some of her friends and relatives partake, Danielle’s primary partner in cosplay is her husband, Nick. This past year it became a family event when the couple included their young son, Xayne (picture below, left), in a trip to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. 

Danielle’s go-to character is a Trill, loosely based on Jadzia Dax from Deep Space Nine. She said, “In the Star Trek universe, the Trill are aliens who look very human with markings that start at the top of their heads and go down the sides of their bodies to their feet. I picked it at first because they are characters who aren’t part of Star Fleet, so I didn’t have to have a uniform to pull it off, and it’s pretty easy to do.” Along with a few Star Trek T-shirts, most of her costume components are assembled from her closet of daily dress items: “Most of the work is done with an eye liner pencil. I go through a lot of brown eye liner!”

She doesn’t always play the same character each time. She has dressed up like the cast of the original Star Trek series from the late 1960s, and attaches elf ears to play Vulcan characters in the tradition of Leonard Nimoy’s legendary Mr. Spock.

Danielle shared how she made up the character of a Time-Travelling Trill coming back in time to see the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. “The game and a convention overlapped, so I took advantage of supporting a couple different fandoms,” she said. “The Hawks won that game,” and while Danielle is not actually taking credit for it, she noted that the team went on to win that series.

Though Jadzia Dax was featured on Deep Space Nine, Danielle’s favorite Star Trek version is The Next Generation. She recalled her parents’ enjoyment of the original Star Trek series: “There’s something very cool about that series. It captures some ideals that I would love to see be more prominent in real life. It’s okay to be different. The urge to explore and to learn. Let’s see what’s out there. Diplomatic solutions over violence. However, recognizing some situations require a more martial approach. Standing up for the truth. Standing up for what you believe in. The positive vision of the future.” She explained how these big ideas, though dramatized in the cosmos, were couched in very human stories.

While many cosplay and Star Trek events have occurred in her own Chicago area, there are opportunities all over the country. “Someday, I’d love to go on the Star Trek cruise in the Caribbean, attend the big Vegas Star Trek convention, and make it to the big granddaddy convention of them all, the San Diego Comic-Con,” said Danielle.

“Seeing how the futuristic technology featured in the Star Trek shows over the years has come to into our real lives is really fascinating and fun,” Danielle said. “I love hearing how people inventing technology were inspired by seeing something similar on Star Trek, and I absolutely love creator Gene Roddenberry’s overall positive vision of the future. It’s something we, as a human race, can aspire to.”

Lori Solyom is Director of Development at Voice of Care in West Chicago, Illinois. She is also Team Leader of the ALDE Communications Team.

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