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(written from a Production point of view)
Tracy Middendorf (born 26 January 1970; age 46) was the second actress to play Tora Ziyal. She appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "For the Cause". As revealed in Cinefantastique (Vol. 28, No. 4/5, p. 63), Middendorf also auditioned for the role of Mardah, prior to portraying Ziyal.
Born in Miami Beach, Florida, Middendorf was in her senior year at Pickens High School in Jasper, Georgia when, in 1987, she left to enter a performing arts school in Miami. She later attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Purchase.
In 1992, she won the role of Carrie Brady (another character who has been played by three actresses) on the long-running soap opera Days of Our Lives, which had also starred John de Lancie. The following year, she began playing the recurring role of Laura Kingman during the fourth season of Beverly Hills, 90210. In 1994, she made her film debut with a supporting role in Wes Craven's New Nightmare, co-starring Fran Bennett, Cully Fredricksen, and Matt Winston.
In the first ten years of her career, she was seen in such television dramas as Murder, She Wrote (in a 1996 episode with fellow DS9 guest-stars Richard Beymer, Meg Foster, and Richard Libertini), Touched by an Angel (in a 1997 episode written by Ken LaZebnik and co-starring Clive Revill), L.A. Doctors (in a 1998 episode with John Billingsley), Ally McBeal (two 1999 episodes, including one with Albert Hall and Ray Walston), Family Law (with Scott MacDonald, Christopher McDonald, and Julie Warner), Six Feet Under (with Ed Begley, Jr.), JAG (with Zach Grenier, Scott Lawrence, and Terry O'Quinn), and Any Day Now (with Daniel Dae Kim and Tom Wright). She also had a recurring role on The Practice, working with Bruce Davison, Bruce French, John Larroquette, Richard McGonagle, Lawrence Pressman, and Steve Rankin.
Middendorf's subsequent science fiction credits following her appearance on DS9 include an episode of Perversions of Science with Chris Sarandon, the first episode of Angel, in which she played (along with Vyto Ruginis) the very first "damsel in distress" the good vampire tried to save in the series, and a 2000 episode of The X-Files with Randy Oglesby. Her more recent TV work include four episodes of 24 (co-starring Michelle Forbes, Timothy Carhart, Jude Ciccolella, and fellow DS9 guest star Billy Burke as her abusive husband) and guest spots on CSI, Cold Case (with Michael Nouri), Medical Investigation (starring Neal McDonough), House M.D. (with Jennifer Morrison), Without a Trace (co-starring Enrique Murciano and John de Lancie), Shark (starring Jeri Ryan, William O. Campbell, and Ivar Brogger), and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (with Steven Weber).
Middendorf has worked several times with J.J. Abrams over the years. She appeared in two episodes of Abrams' hit series Alias in 2003, with Terry O'Quinn and Greg Grunberg in the first, William Dennis Hunt in the second, and Christian Slater in both. The first of those were written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and directed by the latter. Three years later, Middendorf appeared in Abrams' feature film directorial debut, Paramount's Mission: Impossible III (also co-written by Kurtzman and Orci and co-starring Simon Pegg and Greg Grunberg). Most recently, Middendorf appeared in two episodes of Lost, the hit ABC series co-created by Abrams and Damon Lindelof and starring Daniel Dae Kim, Terry O'Quinn and Sam Anderson.