When the cast of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” was first announced, much attention was paid to all the legacy “Trek” characters from Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) and Lieutenant Christopher Pike to new life in the Paramount + series. Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding) and Nurse Christine Chappell (Jess Bush) from Spock (Ethan Peck).
Then there was Lieutenant Erica Ortegas, the only full-fledged character in the series, which takes place at USS Enterprise almost a decade before the events of the original “Star Trek” series of the 1960s. As a helmsman in the enterprise led by Captain Pike, Lieutenant Ortegas – sorry Pan – initially flew under the radar for “Trek” fans. But as the series nears its Season 1 finale on July 7, Ortegas’ flirtatious wit and Steel’s nerves have made him a standout on the show, with other characters gaining a lot of spotlight this season.
Talking to her co-star, Melissa Navia, it’s easy to understand why. Ortegas, 37, an actor who has worked for more than a decade, has never been as famous. She is enjoying both the experience of making the show and watching “Trek” fans embrace it with more unwavering enthusiasm than any recurrence of the franchise over the decades.
“So far it’s been a beautiful ride,” she said. “I’m still amazed.”
Navia’s own enthusiasm – for the “unique new world”, but, in fact, for anything – even for a few minutes it is easily clear to talk to her. When the interview with the actor Diversity Moved to questions about Ortegas’ gender and sexual identity (soon after), Navia was asked to send her own favorite pronouns. His answer may take a second. Instead, Navia smiled, and leaned forward a little on her zoom camera.
“He / she,” Navia said. “But, I mean, I’m from New York, and in our many wonderful queer spaces in New York City, everyone is them / them, because it’s easy. So I’m always open to that too. My whole life, from the back, of my short hair. Also, people say, ‘Sorry, sir.’ So I’ve always been, you know, whatever pronoun works for you, works for me. ” She smiled. “But my favorite pronouns are those.”
Navia also talked about trying to avoid “Star Trek” while auditioning for “Strange New Worlds”, why she took such long time training to become a medieval knight for Episode 8 She became. And what can fans expect from Ortegas in Season 2?
“The universe is punk me”
Because Ortegas was not already a part of “Trek” history like Uhura or Nurse Chapel, Navia was involved in everything about the character for her first audition.
“The name was on the breakdown there,” she said. “She is a pilot. Fighting veterans. Latina. “
Navia watched “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as a child – “The beginnings with Patrick Stewart and his wonderful voice will never be old,” she said – but she purposefully tried to avoid contact with anything related during “Star Trek”. Her audition process. The resistance, alas, was in vain.
“Everything I saw, everything had a ‘Star Trek’ context,” she said. “It was absolutely wild. I’m like, ‘The universe is punk me. What’s going on ?!'”
Nabia’s late partner, Brian Bannon, took a different approach to the 1990 series “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” while waiting to hear if she would be brought into the role. (Bannon died in December, a few days after being diagnosed with leukemia.)
“The funny thing is, I didn’t know him as Treky,” she said. “Brian was very intelligent. He only knew everything. I remember when we booked everything and Brian found out we were playing a ‘Star Trek’ trivia game. Everything. We were like, ‘What’s going on ?!’ He knew it was going to be big, and ‘Strange New Worlds’ was going to be the hit that it is now.
“How do you fly a starship?”
When Navia stepped into the eye-popping set of Enterprise Bridge with her customers, she remembered everyone who stood in the polish and detail of product design.
“And I was like, ‘How does all this work?'” She said. “I still remember getting back in our chairs like our first setup, and ‘How do you fly a starship?'”
It has been a long-standing “Star Trek” tradition for Starship control panels, consisting of deliberately amazing buttons and dials for Naviya, for Naviya, it was essential that she really knew how to pilot her enterprise. . He just didn’t know How. That first night, she returned to her hotel room, which she was sharing with Bannon.
“I told her, ‘I don’t know how it all works,'” she said. “She’s like, ‘Ask everyone. Find out.’
So she coordinated with everyone from John Van Sitters, vice president of “Star Trek” brand development, to the visual effects team in charge of on-screen graphics on Lt. Ortegas’ control panel.
“It’s all touchscreen, but it’s not interactive,” Navia said with a smile. “I pointed out that it should be, and everyone was like, ‘We don’t have the money for that yet.’
Still, with the “Strange New Worlds” team, Navia built a detailed understanding of how to use the controls to meet her needs, she’s really guiding the enterprise through all sorts of treacherous universe areas.
“It gives you an idea of what you’re doing,” she said. “There’s a lot in what we do, you know, techno terminology. We’re believing, but it’s real for a lot of people. It has to be real for us.”
She laughed to herself. “I don’t consider myself a method actor,” she said. “But really, I’ve described how this role has progressed. I’m like, ‘Star Trek’ eventually made me a method actor.”
“He doesn’t have to label it.”
Navia is fully aware that Ortegas’ androgenic appearance – not to mention her chemistry with male and female crew mates alike – has suggested to many LGBTQ + “Trek” fans that Ortegas is bizarre. This is the idea he played happily.
“I’ve been playing Ortegas a lot, like, she’s very loyal to her team and she probably has a cross in all of them,” she said.
Since the launch of “Star Trek: Discovery” in 2017, the franchise has been part of a wider effort to bring “Star Trek”, the main direction of infinite diversity in 21st century storytelling, very clearly incorporating LGBTQ + characters into its story lines. Recently in “Strange New Worlds”, trance actor Jesse James Kittel plays a non-binary space pirate who befriends (and then betrays) Lieutenant Spoke.
But it is easy to leave the identity of Navia Ortegas even more obscure. For him, that’s the point.
“I don’t want to sound like it’s a flippant thing, but he doesn’t have to label it,” she said of Ortegas. “I like that we’ve got it in a way that no one can see. Like, they shouldn’t, shouldn’t they? Everyone should be a little more polite. Everyone Is Strange, I think, you know? “
She stopped. “And that way, me too,” she said. “It’s been my whole life and I’m very happy about it, but I know I give this amazing weird energy. It’s just a part of who I am.”
So now that Navia is in Season 2 in Toronto, will viewers see Ortegas direct that strange energy to another person?
“I think we’ll see – I mean, I can’t say anything – but I think we’ll see that for Ortegas, if she belongs to someone, if she likes someone, no matter who they are. Where they come from,” he said. “If there’s a connection, she’s going for it,” she said.
Like, maybe, the relationship between Ortegas and Nurse Chapel in episode 5 of “Spock Amok,” Season 1?
“When I read the script, you know, I saw that,” Navia said with a smile. “They’ve been friends for a long time, but there’s definitely something where romance can be a thing. Is Is this a thing? We will see ”
“This was the most talked about episode of all season.”
One day at the beginning of the shooting of season 1 of “Strange New Worlds”, Navia went to the costume department for fitting and asked if anyone there knew how to fight a sword.
“And I was like, ‘Well, I have a martial arts background and I’ve done sword fighting stunts for a movie before,'” Navia recalled. “And they were like, ‘Writers should know this.’ I’m like, ‘Why?’ And they’re like, ‘We can’t really say much.’
A few points later, Navia saw a concept sketch of a medieval knight wearing a dashing costume, indicating that some kind of fictional episode was coming to the horizon. She was not alone in getting the head up.
“It was the most talked about episode of all season,” Navia said. “Everyone was like, ‘… and you’re playing the princess and you’re going to be a magician.’ Like, what’s going on ?! ”
The episode in question was episode 8, “The Alician Kingdom,” in which a semi-almighty alien called Dr. The story of the night read by Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) transforms his critically ill daughter into flesh and blood. Fictional who ventures. Naturally
“It’s such a beautiful script, but we didn’t get it until the previous day,” Navia said. He and the stunt team headed it up Something Was coming months ago; However, the actors were able to train months ago.
“We were originally going to choreograph this fight scene which was a further change in the stunt type story,” she said. When they finally got the script, “We found out we’re doing it in a corridor, you know, in our heads, this beautiful battlefield where we have a lot of space.”
Still, Navia has zero complaints. “I appreciate the opportunity to play Knight because I don’t know what other program allows me to do that,” she said. She was particularly impressed to see Ortegas playing a male knight from M’Benga’s storybook. One product described her character as part of Aragran, part Indiana Jones. She had been doing this from the beginning with Ortegas’ identity – and her own.
“Indiana Jones is both the one I wanted to raise and also, Harrison Ford was my crush,” she said. “In my life, I’ve always disregarded some kind of gender norms without acknowledging that there were gender norms, if that makes sense. It has this weirdness that is so, so much fun and so real.”
“Payment will be there”
Navia knows that Ortegas has played a big role in almost all of Season 1, he was not given showcase episodes like the rest of his cast. And she’s fine with that.
“I’m not the biggest story in Season 1,” she said. “My point is, like, I’m flying a ship. I don’t have time to have all these emotional conversations.”
The actor is silent about what is coming for season 2, she can hardly keep her enthusiasm for it.
“You’re definitely going to see some big arches,” she said. “The payoff will be there. I think we’re making something really beautiful and really attractive. Glad to have a role to play.”