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.
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.
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.
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…
Let it be known: I shrink from nothing. I pander to no one. When you come for Ortegas with bigoted nonsense, you come for anyone who looks like her, identifies with her, sees any part of themselves in her, looks up to her, vibes with her. I see you. We all see you. #StarTrek 🔥🖖
— Melissa Navia (@melissaCnavia) July 17, 2022
And yes I know the few we tried to reason with are just the tip of an unfortunate iceberg, but calling them out is never hopeless. Think about kids reading along who look like me, look up to me, and hear the same at school. I can now make noise. So when I have the energy, I will.
— Melissa Navia (@melissaCnavia) July 17, 2022
Keep up with all the news and analysis of the Star Trek Universe at TrekMovie.com.