Interview: Melissa Navia On How Ortegas Loves To Pilot The Enterprise In ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’

Melissa Navia interview - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds - TrekMovie

At the Strange New Worlds premiere event, TrekMovie had the opportunity to speak with Melissa Navia, who’s playing Lieutenant Erica Ortegas, who sits at the helm of the USS Enterprise. Navia talked about her character and others will be revealed throughout the series.

In terms of the other characters, it’s being revealed why some of them joined Starfleet and what it means to them. Are we going to find out the same thing about Ortegas?

Sure. So the great thing about Ortegas is that, well, I’ll say this, you’re gonna find out really soon why she loves to do what she does, which is pilot the Enterprise. She’s also a combat veteran, very, very skilled at what she does. And every episode, you’re gonna see a different layer of her. And it’s gonna get teased out throughout. And there’s going to be some wonderful episodes. I mean, there’s wonderful episodes at the beginning, but at the end, everything just builds… everything just gets better and better.

So you’re gonna learn a lot about Ortegas. And then right now, we can’t say anything but we’re filming season 2, so it gets even better. And it’s a very rare thing as an actor where you can be working on a show where nobody’s even seen a single episode, yet everyone is so excited about it. And so we’ve been feeding off of that from the fans and have been so grateful that fans are just like, “This is what we’ve been waiting for.” And we’re so excited and people are like, “we haven’t even seen a single episode, but you guys are already our favorite crew.” That kind of enthusiasm is what is what keeps us going. That’s why we do what we do, that’s why we tell stories. That’s what keeps the world spinning. I think especially during the pandemic. The stories are what matters so, I’m really happy to be able to tell this story.

Melissa Navia as Ortegas and Rebecca Romijn as Number One

We’ve seen some fun character pairings already. Which of the other characters do you have the most scenes with? 

I definitely spend a good deal of time on the bridge. But fans are gonna see, I think what they’re going to really love with our show is that you’re going to see crew members all over the ship, and you’re going to see relationships amongst different departments. And so I have a great rapport with Dr. M’Benga. And I love it, Dr. M’Benga and Nurse Chapel. And then secretly, I just think Babs is like the coolest guy. So anytime that I got a scene with him was just a lot of fun. Same with Jess, because we’re not in sickbay often, but you get to see us move around the ship and you get to see, you know that not everything is all work. You know, we work hard, but we play super hard too. And in that way, like it mirrors what’s going on currently.

And also, it’s fantastic. All the special effects look amazing. And so you really feel not only like you’re in a movie, but you feel like you’re two hundred years in the future, and that’s what we want. We want it to be an immersive experience and we want fans to just fall in love. We want Star Trek fans to fall in love with Star Trek that they’ve always loved. And then also we want to make new fans because that’s what it is. And just just yes more Star Trek, you can’t get enough of Star Trek, I feel.

Does that feel like pressure to you? 

You know what it would feel [like that], but I’ve seen the scripts and I’ve seen what’s happening and I know all the people who are working on the show. So I keep wanting to tell… like I see on social media, some people are like, “I’m so excited. I hope this is as amazing as I want it to be.” And I want to reach out to everybody and be like, “Take a deep breath…  you can trust that the show is in very good hands.” And so I meet people and they show me their tattoos of all the Star Trek ships, they tell me who their favorite captains are. And then I just want to be like, “You don’t have to worry… this is going to be a wonderful new iteration of Star Trek that’s going to continue what you’ve loved about it.” And so for me, it’s like it feels like a lot of pressure, but I trust what we’re doing is really good and fans are gonna dig it, and I just can’t wait to share it with you.

Melissa Navia as Ortegas

More SNW interviews

Check out the rest of our gold carpet interviews from the New York premiere of Strange New Worlds with the cast and creatives. Read our earlier interview with showrunner Henry Alonso Myers, executive producer Alex Kurtzman, and cast members Anson Mount and Rebecca RomijinChristina ChongCelia Rose Gooding, Babs Olusanmokun and Jess Bush, Bruce Horak, and Babs Olusanmokun & Jess Bush.

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New episodes of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds debut on Thursdays exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Latin America, Australia and the Nordics. The series airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada. In New Zealand, it is available on TVNZ, and in India on Voot SelectStrange New Worlds will arrive via Paramount+ in select countries in Europe when the service launches later this year, starting with the UK and Ireland in June.

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I love how into the show she is! I read an article where she even was assigning buttons to her station and asking them to ensure the displays match what she is doing. That functionality combined with a visual stimulation (colors! sounds! music!) is part of what made TOS so special, these were people not only exploring the final frontier but looking visually stunning doing it.

Still dunno much about her as a character but I absolutely love her vibe on the show, she’s a lot of fun

Very upbeat and into it.

Without taking away from others, I don’t think we’ve had an actor this enthusiastic and bubbly about the show since Mary Chieffo who played L’Rell in Discovery.

I really liked her line when the alien escaped from sick day. “Always happens when I have the chair.”

One of the reasons the pilot was so strong was that they used each character as much as they needed, and no more. We got to know Spock, La’an and Pike, got solid impressions from Una, Chapel and M’Benga, and are still curious about Ortegas, Uhura and Hemmer.

For me, it works better than stopping the show to introduce us to each character and shoe-horn in scenes to make them show us their skills. It shows restraint, which is refreshing to see

True! It’s subtle in the first episode. I’ve only seen the first two, and you might feel differently after you see the second episode, but yes the way the characters are introduced so far is handled very naturally. Although when it came to La’an, when she told her story about the Gorn…that was a bit over the top, I would say.

I’m liking Ortegas so far.

She reminds me a little of the Jane Wiedlin cameo in Star Trek IV. Related? Sure, why not, that’s in my head canon now. :)

Love the character, love the actress, but whatever production staff member came up with that hairdoo for her needs to be transferred to Seal Team.

Can’t say I disagree but you know, tastes differ…

I like her energy and dedication to the role. Says a lot about her personally but also about her professionalism. I do hope they don’t underutilize her and make her into another Sulu or Travis. That would be a waste. From what I gather so far it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Melissa brings such vibrancy, wit, and confidence (but not arrogance) to her role. LOVE her acting as Erica Ortegas! Sulu will have big shoes to fill.

And: Get over the haircut, naysayers. It looks good!

Following her on Twitter and she is pretty cool, I think she’s gonna be a great character

She is Awesome Het Haircut by the way is of Star Fleet Regulation. Lol.

It seems to me that Ortegas owes a lot to the Macha Hernandez character in the early conception of TNG.

Excellent Observation