It isn't easy being Traci Elizabeth Lords. The actress has killed in fare as diverse as the John Waters musical Cry-Baby and Stephen King's The Tommyknockers miniseries, yet her past in adult films refuses to die. In fact, just last week a major entertainment magazine made sport of her by bringing up an old quote regarding her Oscar aspirations.

"It can be a downer," she tells TV Guide Online. "But if people need to make you part of the joke, you have a choice — you can laugh with them, or you can fight. That just seemed like a time to shrug."

While Lords chose not to engage in that particular battle, she still intends to win the war — which is why she's strategically begun using her middle name. "I was saying, 'I am Traci Lords, but I'm more than somebody who used to be a teenage porn star,'" explains the former Norma Kuzma. "I've paid my dues, and I want to be known for more than that."

Lords's latest gig — kicking alien butt as militia leader Jordan Radcliffe on the Sci Fi Channel's First Wave — is sure to help her achieve that goal. In her first big episode (tonight at 8), she offers a little taste of her character's fragility and a serving of her anger that's so generous, it might finally stop reporters from asking stupid questions. "Like anybody who's extremely hurt, Jordan is capable of anything," she suggests. "That makes her very dangerous."