Had things gone differently, fans might have seen Tim Russ or Wesley Snipes as Geordi La Forge.
An old casting memo dated April 13, 1987 from Paramount shows the actors and actresses who might have been chosen to play the roles of Picard, Ryker and La Forge instead of Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes and LeVar Burton.
The memo, pictured here (click on thumbnail to see it full-sized), shows that while some characters had multiple actors vying for the role, two characters had only one actor or actress in contention, and in both cases, neither got the role.
Stewart was one of five in contention for Picard, and he and Patrick Bauchau (who ironically played a Roland Picard in 2009’s 2012) were the front-runners for the role of the Captain.
For Ryker, although Jonathan Frakes was one of the four on the list and the one who got the role, Michael O’Gorman was the favorite according to the memo.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Rosalind Chao (Keiko O’Brien) was the favorite for the part of Tasha Yar. Denise Crosby, who ultimately won the role, was not even on the list for the part, she was being considered for Troi.
An actor who went on to Star Trek: Voyager, Tim Russ (Tuvok), was vying with Reggie Jackson, Wesley Snipes and others for the role of Geordi La Forge.
The only one who was a favorite and actually got the role, other than Stewart, was Gates McFadden, who was listed under her real first name of Cheryl.
Source: Letters of Note