Jonathan Frakes best known as William T. Riker of Star Trek Next Generation is recognized across the globe. It was a pleasure to make his acquaintance, shake his hand and ask a few questions. He grew up in Bellefonte Pennsylvania ultimately getting a masters degree from Harvard. He moved to New York where he found acting jobs hard to acquire, finally relocating to California to try television.
His screen accomplishments go far beyond the Riker character, having appeared in dozens of television shows as a guest star. They are far too numerous to mention in this space. He directed some Star Trek episodes and feature movies for the genre.
He is married to Genie Francis (Laura Spencer from General Hospital) and they have two children together.
When asked for the interview he graciously agreed, while long lines of fans waited for his signature. It was considered a “drive-by,” which is a real no-no in the industry, but I had one shot. I figured if you were friendly enough, and respectful in the first moments, it would prove aceptable. Thankfully, his personality is one that allows exceptions for the guy panning for gold in a stream he shouldn’t be wading through in the first place.
Frakes is a tall man who carries himself with an air of confidence. But he is friendly and open making you feel comfortable talking, even though you have interrupted his busy schedule. Some celebrities portray or depend on their character persona to carry the day. Frakes without saying a word exudes depth of person, and you immediately know there is much more besides acting in his life. Scoring a short interview is great, but Frakes is the kind of person you really wish you had time to really get to know. Sort of the best friend you didn’t get to have.
The big question I asked was, “What would you want your fans to know about you, that no other reporter has ever asked?”
“That’s a great question, I’ll have to think about it,” he replied.
As I thanked him and started to walk away, he called to me,
“Tell them I am kind of shy.” Was it as parting teaser or a refreshing truth offered from someone so public and outwardly confident? I think the latter.