Melissa Navia On Not Labeling Ortegas And Getting An Episode In ‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ Season 2

We are getting some more clues about season two of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds. In addition to the showrunners and new Kirk actor Paul Wesley, actress Melissa Navia has done a few interviews about what’s in store for Ortegas and more.

Ortegas gets a storyline in season 2

While Navia’s Erica Ortegas has been a prominent member of the USS Enterprise crew in the first season of Strange New Worlds, there wasn’t an episode that focused on the character. The actress explained to Variety that there will be something more for Ortegas in the upcoming season (which has already been filmed):

The biggest storylines in Season 1 are not me. My thing is, like, I’m flying a ship. I don’t have time to have all these emotional conversations… You are definitely going to see some big arcs [in season 2]. The payoff will be there. I think we’re building up to something really beautiful and really compelling. It’s a joy to play the part.

She got a bit more specific when talking to Slashfilm:

Ortegas does have an episode in season 2. We love Ortegas. One of the great things about Ortegas is that she fits so well into every story, because she’s always kind of in the center of it. You know what I mean? I like to think of her as the person who gets to comment on every single story. Ortegas gets to do a bunch of things that she does in season 2 that she didn’t get to do in season 1, so I’ll leave it at that.

Melissa Navia as Ortegas

The quips are keeping it real

Navia talked with THR about Ortegas’ sarcasm on the bridge and how she feels this adds to the character’s authenticity:

I knew from the beginning there was a comic aspect to Ortegas and what she brings to the crew, but what I really wanted to avoid was the obvious comic relief. I always go back to the writing. I know I’m biased, but the writing is so well done, and it makes it easy to bring her to life. I could see in the scripts that the reason she’s able to break the tension and to have those moments—especially with Captain Pike [Anson Mount]—is because she is so skilled and so confident in what she does. And I love that.

She’s a soldier and pilot, and so much of what I’ve heard from actual soldiers and pilots is she is the most authentic crew member in that her gallows humor is exactly what happens in life and death situations. I see trolls on Twitter say, “She is not professional enough, or she’s not this enough,” which in my gut, I feel that misogyny. So, when I hear from actual soldiers and pilots that she absolutely is doing what they’re doing out there, that to me is the highest compliment.

Melissa Navia as Ortegas

Not labeling Ortegas

The first season explored romantic storylines and histories for a number of other characters, but not for Ortegas (except for a fantasy relationship with “The Huntress” in the episode “The Elysian Kingdom”). In her interview with Variety, Navia embraced “Ortegas’ androgynous appearance—not to mention her chemistry with male and female crewmates alike.” She said, “I’ve been playing Ortegas to be very much, like, she’s super loyal to her crew and she also has a crush on probably all of them.”

Navia added that she’s happy to keep Ortegas’ identity ambiguous:

I don’t want to sound like it’s a flippant thing, but she doesn’t have to put label on it. I like that we’re approaching it in a way that nobody bats an eye. Like, they shouldn’t, right? Everybody should be a bit queer. Everybody is a bit queer, I feel, you know?… And in that way, me too. This has been my whole life and I’m so happy about it, but I know I give off this wonderful queer energy. It’s just been a part of who I am.

Navia did tell Variety we will learn more about an Ortegas relationship in season 2:

I think we’re gonna see—I mean, I can’t say anything—but I think we’re gonna see that for Ortegas, if she relates to somebody, if she likes somebody, it doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from. If there’s a connection, she’s going to go for that.

The first season episode “Spock Amok” showed the close connection between Ortegas and Chapel. Navia also teased that there may have been more to their relationship:

They’ve been friends for a long time, but there is definitely something where romance could be a thing. Has it been a thing? We will see.

Melissa Navia as Ortegas and Jess Bush as Chapel in “Spock Amok”

Navia defends Ortegas’ appeal on social media

Over the weekend, Melissa Navia called out bigotry towards Ortegas in a series of tweets, defending those who identified with her regardless of orientation. Here is some of what she had to say…


Keep up with all the news and analysis of the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.

Subscribe
Notify me of

76 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’ll label her: bloody irritating.

Hard disagree, bud. It’s nice to have a badass in the family who isn’t afraid to speak out.

Navia is so great.

I can’t give her anything but total respect that as woman, widowed just six months, she is rejecting the disrespect and standing up for those who may see themselves in her or her character.

On her character Ortegas, I totally agree, those of us who have actually worked with pilots understand and recognize the type.

Ortegas is definitely a type and I doubt that there would be the same audience flack were she male. She’s done nothing that Sulu or Worf did constantly in terms of recommendations, initiative or body language.

She exudes a jock pilot cockiness and constant competitiveness which those of us who’ve worked with them recognize. Yes, there are quiet Pilot types like Detmer too, but in an era that can allow captains with a temperament like Kirk’s, there should be Ortegas too.

There are plenty of cocky pilots across fiction. I found Top Gun: Maverick grating for that reason. I wish we could have more quiet and confident ones like Detmer and Sulu.

or Laredo. Pedal to the Metal, Commander!

Honestly, anybody going to see a TOP GUN movie should know exactly what to expect (which is why I probably won’t ever bother with the sequel unless somebody just cuts together an aerial reel.) It ain’t about humble Gary Cooper types.

I’m glad she is calling these bozos out, and I hope they get hammered like whack-a-mole everyplace their heads pop up. Then again, shaming doesn’t seem to work on bigots.

Before seeing it, I’d heard it was a “more realistic” and “grounded” revamp of the original. It’s not.

Now, if they had taken a page from The Right Stuff, where it shows why that sort of ultra macho cockiness is buffoonish and made for the cameras and is worth mocking, then they might’ve had something.

boy, you’re sure right about that one. Then again, what do I know? I loathe TOP GUN, but have probably watched IRON EAGLE 15 times … I guess because I appreciate when a dumb movie knows it is a dumb movie and doesn’t pretend otherwise. Plus Basil’s score for EAGLE is fantabulous (check on ebay if you don’t believe me, the score cd goes for three figures.)

I need to check out Iron Eagle again. Been a very long time.

“Then again, shaming doesn’t seem to work on bigots.”

As Inspector Clouseau once said in a different context, “Not anymore.”

‘that was a priceless Steinway!!!’

“Does you dog bite?”

Well, Detmer is quiet because she’s not given anything to do. It’s actually quite nice when she’s given a sliver of personality, and that often comes out when she’s allowed to show off and be a bit cocky.

It’s a stereotype for pilots which Trek really only avoided with Sulu and Geordi, though I’d argue Wesley and Ro weren’t really typical “flyboy” types of arrogant.

She is doing a great job with her activism and that’s what Star Trek is about, fighting bigotry,standing up for those who have no voice or are marginalized. I do believe that her partner sadly passed away between seasons so her portrayal in Season one would be how Melissa intended the character to be initially portrayed. It will be fascinating to see if her personal tragedy impacts on her portrayl in season two and if the show runners incorporated some of that in her back story.

She’s done nothing that Sulu or Worf did constantly

Er… that means what she does and what Sulu and Worf do are the exact opposite, which I suspect is not what you were trying to say.

Yup, missed the “than” in there.

Thanks for the catch.

I’ve not seen it before now, but after reading your comments, she reminds me of Tom Paris. You are totally right, if she was a male character, nobody would bat an eyelid.
Ortega’s is cool.

You may be in a minority opinion here.

I really wouldn’t think so; then again, trek fans have a tendency to prove me wrong in the most disturbing ways sometimes … even in fiction, they get wacky (there’s a David Gerrold short story about an alternate universe where TREK goes beyond 3 seasons, but then Robert Kennedy — who is running MGM, which buys Trek in this reality — fires Shatner and brings in JFK, causing a ratings surge until an unruly fan names Sirhan, mis-aims at RFK and instead kills the Captain at a convention.

No

Neelix is irritating, Ortegas is really cool. And so much fun.

Barclay is irritating. God bless him, but Rom was irritating. Except for Trip, Hoshi, and Mayweather, the rest of the Enterprise cast was irritating, to some degree.

rom was a brave character who rebelled against ferengi dogma, supported his son joining starfleet and would end up nagus, changing who they do business.

and he bagged a babe too

Yeah, I like her too.

Yes! I found Neelix so frustrating because there were times when he *wasn’t* so bad, but the writers rarely seemed to want to lean into those aspects, always moving back to goofy and kinda gross/clingy.
Ortegas is fanastic, tbh.

It’s that smirk… they have to stop her doing that …

I can see why people find Oretegas irritating. But honestly, I don’t really mind them that much. Or at least they don’t bother me to such an extent that I’d skip a scene with them. Yeah, as written, they’re not someone I’d really want to hang out with–but they also seem like a real person and not, as Discovery has often done with their characters, some bizarre bundle of neuroses, drama, and meaningless motivational speaking.

To each their own. I always found Tom Paris irritating.

I love this character! I love her confidence and expertise in being the pilot while also having the quick sarcastic comments. Above all, I love that she seems happy! She enjoys her work and everyone around her.

I agree! She hasn’t had many lines yet, but she’s already such a PRESENCE. Melissa Navia has really been doing a fantastic job.

Ortegas feels more real to me after ten episodes than some of the Discovery characters do after four years. I don’t know enough about acting to know what Melissa Navia is doing to make Ortegas feel so REAL, but whatever it is, I hope she keeps doing it!

I think the realness of Ortegas comes from Navia herself. She’s not trying to be anything else than what she is. So many fake, backstabbing cowards out there, it’s refreshing to see a person with character and integrity. I realize 10 episodes and a few lines is not enough to take the measure of a person, but this is just what she exudes. This is for Navia as well as Ortegas. Just her tweets say a lot…

The ease of the banter between Pike and Ortegas suggests there is some service related history there that’s not yet been explored on screen. The characters are very comfortable with each other, making their (all to) brief interactions a pleasure to watch…

Agreed!

It may be as you say, or it may be that she’s just THAT good of an actress. Whatever it is, I like both the actress and the character, and I hope we’ll get to keep them for a long time.

I think it’s both the naturally fun and funny actress, and good writing for the character.

I’m definitely looking forward to a more in-depth exploration of Ortegas! 🖖😃

Outside the primary cast (Mount/Peck), Navias and Bush are both very intriguing characters. It’s good to see a little more focus on them.
Don’t let the bastards get to you, Melissa….

A quip or a comedy bit once in a while is fine. I still like to say, “Good tea, nice house.”

As with anything, though, it can be overdone, and I thought the comedy was one of the things that held back the season from being great. Not just with Ortegas. It was in a lot of places. Even the weary Admiral Pike slipped in some Lower Decks style humor a couple of times.

Your mileage will vary, of course, but I don’t think it helped in most cases. It took me out of the story.

I should add that I don’t hold any of this against Melissa Navia, it’s the writing. She’s great in the role. I just wish they’d give her more to do than being the pull-string quip machine.

Honestly, I enjoyed her take on Stiles in the finale more than her normal self.

It’s a little much for a live action show that’s supposed to be in the same vein as the others which are about competent professionals doing their jobs, but overall I liked the way it relaxed the tone. And I absolutely liked how it spread the comedy around so everyone had a bit of that humanizing quality to them. Discovery and Picard to me are exactly how not to handle comedy – until Reno and some of the fish out of water material in Picard S2, almost all of the humor in the shows was concentrated into one character, and god help you if you didn’t like fast-talking, awkward, neurotic women, because that’s all you were going to get.

I absolutely love her character. She has a lot of chemistry with Pike. She’s funny, tough, smart and friendly. I’m looking forward to learning more about her.

Kudos to her for representing the values of what makes Star Trek great! She’s a wonderful addition to the family!

Love the character, but not the hair. And straight or gay or queer, a bad doo is a bad doo,

I think the hairdo is absolutely fine for now, but I sure would’ve loved a bold variation on it for the (alternate) time-jump in the finale! Something that screams 1960s to go with the TOS era would’ve been unexpected fun to see. 😜

I’m in love with Ortegas! She brightens up any scene she’s in. She has a point of view that is extremely human. And in a show like Star Trek you need a character like this. It helps grown the show in reality in a way that make all the fiction seem more real. Her lines about Vulcan relationships is one of my favs of season 1. She’s also very much gives me madass pilot vibes much like Travis Mayweathers, Tom Paris, Sulu, Keyla Detmer and even Starbuck (2004). I can’t wait to see what she’s up to in season 2.

I assume you meant “badass” and I agree. Except she out-badasses them all, except maybe Starbuck (had a crush on HER!!).

Totally meant badass… and I think you’re right.

Different movie …. “Madass Max”

*adds “madass” to personal lexicon* 😁

The cast in this show is really refreshing. Lightyears better than all the rest of New Trek. The characters are solid to great, and the writers easily could have messed up Ortegas, but I’m enjoying every minute she’s on-screen. Her sarcasm is not forced or exaggerated, she’s competent, likable, upbeat, confident, and a fantastic addition to the Enterprise family.

Y E S !

From what I’ve seen, I like the performance and the character. She’s a bit quippy, not to mention that she and Pike share an unfortunate fondness for anachronisms, but that’s largely a matter of taste. I thought she was at her best in the filling-in-for-Styles role, where Ortegas and Pike really butted heads, and hope she gets similar dramatic opportunities in the future.

Ortegas is not a bad character.
In fact, one of the reasons why SNW is so great is there is NOT any bad character..
I mean think about it… We could pick out an annoying character in most Trek series including the greatest ones.

TOS?: Nurse Chapel who no knock on Majel seemed just to exist by the writers to swoon over Spock… But the character has been made so much better on SNW…
TNG?: We love Wil but no one liked Wesley
DS9? Vic Fontaine…. what is there to like about lounge singers?
VOY? Neelix

Now do SNW

errr….Sam Kirk?
Wesley became less irritating over time. Reg Barclay, there’s no cure for that.

I actually like the Sam Kirk character. Not irritating to me at all, though to each his own…

It’s the mustache.

I’m fine with both the actor and the character. The only time I found Ortegas out of place was in the alternate future shown in the season finale. She seemed more combative and aggressive towards Spock, as if she is supposed to fulfill the role of Lt. Stiles from the TOS original episode Balance of Terror.
Shoehorning her into that role felt out of character. Especially since she would have been serving with Spock for at least 7 years by that point.

I agree! She one of my favorite characters but that did bother me. She must have gone through some deep stuff in 7 years to be so different.

The fact we are getting 10 episode season really doesn’t help with character development. I initially do like the character of Ortegas, her and Hemmer were both great, Hemmer had very good development from the start, in just a few episodes we knew his backstory, pacifist beliefs, enhanced senses. This development made many of us sad when he was killed off. To me that was a big oversight. However in comparison there is no real development for Ortegas across the season. I don’t know any more sunstantially between episode one and ten. Melissa in my opinion was best in episode 8 (The Elysian Kingdom), that episode I really enjoyed, but she was playing another character not Ortegas.

I would think Ortegas has had the lowest word count of any of the bridge crew thus far. Her quips are amusing and she does appear to have good rapport with Captain Pike. I’m in two minds on her ‘attitude’ also. I have read Melissa speaking about her authenticity as a ‘military pilot’ and I can understand that view if we are basing that characteristic on current day military, and even then I’m not sure that you would want someone with that temperament being your pilot. In a federation of hundreds of planets with the absolute best assigned the Enterprise I’m not sure that a gung ho attitude would be celebrated in the way it would be today in the US military.

The dynamic works between Pike and Ortegas due to his personality. However I could never see that ‘flying’ with Captain Kirk or let alone Jean Luc Picard.

It will be interesting to see where the show runners take the character next season, this does sound negataive, and I don’t want it to be, as I do like the character of Ortegas, she does have magnetism that draws you to her as a character and she is doing a good job with what she has been given so far, sadly that’s not a great deal. Eventually we know she will be ‘replaced’ with Sulu, and that’s a short shrift for the character. If we don’t get some significant character development I won’t be terribly disappointed when Sulu does eventually show up.

She’s hot as hell, with a nice feeling of fun and intelligence. Trek is lucky to have her and to be wise enough to give her the opportunities at the right pace.

Totally agree. Instantly drawn to her and the character.

This show is great, and almost every character is awesome. The only issues I have with it are: M’Benga, who is too mumbly and difficult to understand, which is pretty weird when you recall how clearly the character spoke on TOS; and Ortages, who is not nearly as interesting as the actor above seems to think. She’s little more than a background character and rarely adds anything to her scenes. That’s not misogyny, despite what she might think. That’s simply my finding her uninteresting.

I really like this character and the way Melissa portrays her. She’s cool, fun, honest and reliable. The kind of guy on that bridge you’d rather have a beer with after work. So, yes, more of Ortegas.

It’s really sad that there’s still so many intolerant and stupid people out there.

She reminds me of Hudson( Bill Paxton) in Aliens.

Many years ago, Mark Hamill said in regards to Luke Skywalker, that Luke, can be gay, straight or anything in-between. it is not him to label himself, when a fan can imagine anything they want.

I think Melissa not labelling her character is a good focus, because she can be anything to anyone and that is where the true magic lays

You brushed up against a subject that will bristle most of this comment thread, but the point was, nobody gave a damn or needed to know anything about Luke’s sexuality, because he was much more than that. No one cared about who Luke wanted to grind his pubis with. That was so immaterial to the fact of his journey toward becoming a Jedi, it was beneath us to worry about.

Even Yoda said, “luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.“ So true.

That’s what’s lacking in Star Trek today: the vision that we are something so much more important than these little flesh pods we walk around in. That the story is so much bigger than us and our odd proclivities.

I wish Star Trek would lift our eyes off of the characters’ genitals and turn them back to the final frontier… the possibilities… every once in a while.

I think what’s nice about SNW is that sure, I have some minor criticisms, and if folks want to discuss it, I totally will.

But I’m also happy enough to just keep all that to myself. I feel like the overall direction and feel of the show is on the right track. One where the minor misstep here or there is basically nothing in the average score of the series so far.

Contrast this with Picard, where I’m compelled to frustratingly shout my problems with it from the rooftops — a show that has so much promise and talent behind the scenes, but it can’t seem to help but steer itself off the road with bizarre narrative choices.

So SNW is a nice change. 😅

She’s a great character, like all SNW characters….DiscoveryZZZZ take note!

Im a combat vet. I love Ortegas. Just like us she occasionally crosses the line but she snaps to. One of my favorite characters. I think the show as a hole needs to be mindful of not trying to be Lower Decks but I love these characters.

‘Simon Pegg: ‘Star Wars’ Fandom Is the ‘Most Toxic at the Moment’ and It’s ‘Really Sad’’

variety

I spent 23 years in the Army. In that time, I’ve met plenty of folks who were just like Ortegas. Sarcastic, funny, but DAMN GOOD at what they do!

I love her, can’t wait to see more of her in season two!
This toxic, bullying behavior going on in this fandom and so many others really does need to end. The bigotry and misogyny is unacceptable. And you don’t have to like every show or every character, but you can chill and be a grownup about it and have basic politeness.

It’s a fictional character, its feelings cannot be hurt.

I don’t get the hate. She’s perfect. Really adds to the chemistry of the bridge. Nobody cares if she is straight, just that she can fly straight! Can’t wait to see her spotlight episode in S2.

I love her character, and the fact that she’s new to the Trek universe. She’s a welcome breath of fresh air to a bridge full of TOS characters.

Yeah. The actor playimg this character has an axe to grind and is very off putting online. Also, in a chain of command you can’t be snooty and sarcastic at all times. It’s a character to check boxes.

Everything Trek since Enterprise (and even that was a mess until Season 4) has devolved into a juvenile soap opera.

To boldly go where the writers’ solipsism has gone so many times before. SMH