Though Olivia Youngers has always loved film her route to acting was a long one. She recalls throwing a tantrum as a toddler out of jealousy of Shirley Temple. Remembers her dreams that were postponed out of financial necessity, “While I took every acting opportunity possible in school, for practical reasons I ended up pursuing a STEM degree instead, in Biotech,” she explained. “But acting never stopped being that creative dream and I realized I was always finding any excuse to keep at it. Whether it was local theater, improv classes, or even cosplay and tabletop RPGs, which I treated as an acting exercise.”
In 2019, Youngers moved to Los Angeles, CA to pursue acting in earnest. Eventually landing the role of Ensign Riggs, a young science officer posted to the USS Titan, on the third season of Star Trek: Picard. The character appears in Episode 3, “Seventeen Seconds,” as she’s being treated in the sick bay by Jack Crusher, and in Episode 8, “Surrender,” seen rushing into action.
“It was an absolute dream come true. When I went to my first official ‘LA’ acting class after moving here, my fantastic teacher, Rob Brownstein, asked me what I wanted—what a dream role would be—and I replied, ‘I want to be the captain of a starship. Ensign isn’t quite Captain, but it’s a pretty good place to start'” Youngers revealed. “I got the chance to audition, and just assumed it was dumb luck and not going to go anywhere but then I got the e-mail that I was pinned. It still doesn’t feel quite real. I’ve loved Star Trek my entire life.”
As a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Youngers was initially nervous to work with Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Riker in TNG and even directed Episode 3 of Picard. “Frakes put me quickly at ease,” Youngers recounted. “[He] welcomed me aboard, and then impishly demanded to know who my favorite Star Trek character was—it’s Seven of Nine—but then clarified his request to know more specifically who my favorite Next Generation character was.”
Youngers, rather diplomatically, named Data’s cat Spot, unaware that the feline would make a cameo appearance in Episode 8. “I feel quite prescient in retrospect,” she shared in earnest. “Now that I’m safely not on set, I think I can honestly answer the question: Guinan. Guinan was my favorite as a kid. Sorry Mr. Frakes! I think Riker has gotten to really shine though this season.”
So what became of Youngers’ character, last seen lying prone in Episode 8? “I can say I have it on very good authority that Ensign Riggs survived,” Youngers replied coyly.
Upcoming projects for Youngers, who is also a dancer, include a music video for Riell with choreographer Taisha Monique Clark. “I wasn’t familiar with [Riell] previously, but when I was sent the song, I immediately fell in love,” she explained. “I’ve worked with Taisha since I moved to LA to broaden my dance skills, and she knew exactly what my style of music was. I’m very fortunate that the communities I’ve found in LA are ones that actively try to help elevate each other when the right opportunity comes up.”
Follow Youngers on Instagram at @olivyum.