If you're not familiar with Summer Glau, then you're not a nerd. It's simple as that. In the last decade, Summer Glau has become something of a Queen of the Nerds. Yes, a large -- no, make that VERY large -- reason for that was her role as River Tam on "Firefly" and later "Serenity", but it's much more than that. Glau regularly shows up in series that, though often lacking mainstream appeal, are cult hits in the nerd community.
Going way back to the beginning, Glau made her acting debut in an episode of "Angel", which would be far from the last time she would cross paths with Joss Whedon.
"Firefly" was where Glau made her mark, even though the show lasted only 14 episodes (11 aired), and she only had limited work between the end of that series and the release of "Serenity". After the movie came out, she landed recurring roles on "The 4400" (another cult series, which, I'm sad to admit, I gave up on halfway through the first season) and "The Unit."
And while Glau's popularity probably could have coasted on her "Serenity" cred forever, she easily added to her rep by playing the re-programmed Terminator "Cameron" in the FOX series "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles". Again, the show didn't last long (only two seasons) but drew a solid following, particularly as it got deeper in the complex second season. With TSCC canceled, Glau hooked up with Joss Whedon AGAIN, with a recurring role during the second season of "Dollhouse" -- where she was (SPOILER ALERT) unceremoniously dispatched with a gunshot to the head.
Glau's résumé is dotted with other nerd-friendly cameos, from her appearence as herself in "The Big Bang Theory" to her role as one of the Gretas this season on "Chuck." She's also become the voice of Supergirl, lending her vocal talents to a DC animated movie and the upcoming DC Universe Online MMO.
Glau returns to a regular role on the small screen this January in the NBC series "The Cape", which I'm looking forward to, but also don't have high hopes for. Given how quickly "Heroes" fell off, I'm not sure NBC will have much patience for the show if it struggles to find an audience, and genre shows have been struggling on the four major networks for a few years now. Still, any chance to see more Summer Glau is worth it.