Star Trek: Strange New World’s actress Melissa Navia defends Lt. Ortegas.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has one of the best sets of characters a Star Trek franchise has ever had. Whether it’s the calm but cool demeanor of Captain Pike, played perfectly by Anson Mount, Spock’s cold but wholesome logic (played admirably by Ethan Peck), or Rebecca Romijn’s layered presence as Una Chin-Riley, the series has a very impressive cast.
That’s not all, as the likes of Dr. Mbenga (Babs Olusanmokun), La’an Noonien-Singh (Christina Chong), Cadet Nyota Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), and Nurse Christine Chapel (Jess Bush) have all shown the range and depth they not only posses as characters but as talents as well.
Yet, maybe the breakout star of the series has been Lt. Erica Ortegas played wonderfully by Melissa Navia. Ortegas is the sarcastic pilot of the Enterprise, and while she has a bit of a sarcastic demeanor, she’s very much a soldier in Starfleet, even if Starfleet doesn’t have soldiers.
This has caused fans to lambast her for portrayal for saying that this isn’t how a pilot of a starship would behave in Starfleet, something she refutes wholly.
Melissa Navia thinks Ortegas is accurately portrayed on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Speaking to Ryan Parker of The Hollywood Reporter, Navia defended her portrayal of Ortegas, claiming that fans love her portrayal, especially modern, active service men and women of the United States military.
She defended Ortegas by saying;
"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."
Personally, I think she’s right there with Chapel as the best “new” character in the series. While Chapel isn’t new, this is the first time she’s been portrayed by Bush, and that expansion of her personality has made Chapel fresh.
Ortegas and Chong’s Singh are proof that Star Trek can still create meaningful, interesting, layered characters, and that means not making them monosyllabic personalities. The idea that military officers are stripped of their humanity and emotions is a lie. Yes, there’s a sense that when they’re on duty they are super serious, but if you spent any amount of time around them, you’d know that isn’t always the case.
Moreover, Ortegas isn’t in the military. She’s in Starfleet. So she shouldn’t act like a United States Marine, as she isn’t one.
Ortegas is awesome. I’m glad we have her.