1979 saw the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a 46 million dollar big budget film starring the cast of the original TV series from the 1960s. Performing alongside William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy was one Persis Khambatta, a former winner of the Miss India pageant and a model and occasional actress. Persis appeared in the role of Lieutenant Ilia, the Deltan navigator of the starship USS Enterprise and a character central to the plot.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, offered the role to Persis with a warning that she would have to completely shave her head for the part. She accepted and was later nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her portrayal.