Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the most acclaimed of the new batch of Trek shows released on Paramount+ and, as such, is being examined as thoroughly as only fans of that particular science fiction franchise can. One of the new characters on the show is Erica Ortegas, the pilot of the USS Enterprise portrayed by Colombian-American actor Melissa Navia. The character’s androgynous appearance and undeniable chemistry with multiple members of the cast of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds have caused viewers to speculate about her sexuality, and Melissa Navia has spoken up: don’t put a label on it.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Melissa Navia stated she felt that her Star Trek character “doesn’t have to put label on it” and that the show was “approaching it in a way that nobody bats an eye.” She went on to say that she feels that “Everybody is a bit queer,” going on to include herself in that statement along with her character. She also stated (without revealing any details) that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds season 2 was likely going to portray some kind of romantic connection for Erica Ortegas.
Melissa Navia has also been quite outspoken online in dealing with commentators who felt the character was “trying to appeal to certain demographics,” which she inferred to mean the character was present in Star Trek as a representation of LGBTQ+ interests. Of course, Star Trek has been overtly and deliberately forward in representing different races, nationalities, sexual, and gender identities across the entirety of the franchise, as evidenced by Walter Koeng’s Pavel Chekhov, George Takei’s Hikaru Sulu, Nichelle Nichols’ Nyota Uhura, and Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax. Here is one of Melissa Navia’s Tweets on the subject:
As the pilot of the USS Enterprise during the time period of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (which is to say, pre-James T. Kirk), Erica Ortegas has been depicted as a boldly confident, borderline cocky hotshot with a penchant for gallows humor. This has also rubbed some viewers wrong, despite the longtime presence of prideful, cocky characters like Kirk himself and Star Trek: Voyager’s Tom Paris, who were largely not criticized for those traits. Melissa Navia has responded to this double standard on Twitter, claiming that many actual soldiers and pilots had told her that she represents much of their own experience in a realistic way.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds recently concluded its first season to critical acclaim, being nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award. The second season was pretty much a given and is currently in production. There are currently more Star Trek shows airing concurrently than any time in the franchise’s history, with Strange New Worlds, Prodigy, Discovery, Lower Decks, and Picard all on the Paramount+ streaming platform. This is a new golden age of Star Trek and all that content means we are likely to new kinds and varieties of all sorts of characters in the franchise, but that is really what it is all about.