Masterson Talks Reprising Leeta
Star Trek Online, the free-to-play online role-playing game based in the iconic Star Trek universe, is thrilled to reunite 12 of the original cast members from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for the new PC expansion, Victory is Life. Joining the crew aboard the infamous space station is Chase Masterson, reprising the role of Leeta, former Bajoran Dabo girl and wife to Ferenginar’s Grand Nagus, Rom. The Star Trek Online team had a chance to sit down with Chase after her recording session at Cryptic Studios to talk about her return to the game -- Captains may remember her as Mirror Universe Leeta in Season 11: New Dawn -- and the incredible work she’s been doing with her anti-bullying organization, Pop Culture Hero Coalition.
STO: Welcome back to Star Trek Online, Chase. Thank you for joining us. What is it like returning to the character of Leeta to see how she’s grown?
Chase Masterson: I really value the opportunity to do this. Part of the reason why is that I get to show a really more mature Leeta. I get to walk in the shoes of a woman who has been in charge of an entire empire with Rom, for nearly 20 years now. She’s someone who has definitely grown and come into her own. That was something I felt like I really wanted to do for a long time now. We saw quite a lot of that on the show, but here we see a Leeta who has grown into her own shoes. She’s become an intelligent woman, a strategic thinker who is still very much adoring of her husband, but is able to walk beside him in a way that is extremely valuable.
STO: One of the interesting things about the character of Leeta is that she started off as more of a comic relief figure and then grew over the course of Deep Space Nine. What was it like playing a role like that?
It was really interesting because a lot of people did see Leeta as eye candy. I’m grateful to say that she was in all the sweeps week episodes in that catsuit, and I think that was certainly one of the reasons why. But you have to credit our amazing writing team under the direction of Ira Behr for her growth and René Echevarria, who created Leeta; she was never just a Dabo girl, she was never just eye candy and they always had more of a vision for her than that. They had a vision of a woman who was very compassionate and knew how to stand up for justice.
This is a woman who was more than what she looked like. That is such a Star Trek message. It’s what Leeta sees in Rom. He’s not just a book you can judge by his cover, he’s so much more. And that speaks to us in a way that is very important. We are not just what the world sometimes sees, we are so much more. It’s a very solid message of being a hero for yourself and other people.
STO: Even after all these years, Deep Space Nine still resonates with so many. Why do you think that is?
Ira Behr told us during our fifth season that he thought this was a show that was going to get more popular with time, rather than less. Now that shows can be streamed, people can watch the show in a way that is not as haphazard as it was before. Deep Space Nine was so groundbreaking in terms of it being one of the first serialized shows on television and that’s very much thanks to Michael Piller and of course, Ira Behr. I think this may have intimated fans initially. The show trusted its audience but also demanded a lot. We wanted you to get immersed in the storyline so you tune in every day. Now that’s possible and we see new audiences every day.
STO: Today you were one of the first to check out the Deep Space Nine space station in our new expansion, Victory is Life. What did you think?
First of all, Quark’s Bar is just amazing. I want to just go there, and damn it, I want to play Dabo! I want to be one of the players. It’s just such a fun place to be. The atmosphere is perfect. I can hear the music as you take me down that promenade. It just feels like home.
STO: Is it weird seeing Deep Space Nine as a fully realized 3D space?
It really is. When we did the show, we really couldn’t just walk around Deep Space Nine, because part of it was on Stage 4 and some of it was on Stage 7. It was always in pieces for us. This is actually the most cohesive look at Deep Space Nine. This is the answer when fans ask if there will be a Deep Space Nine movie. Unfortunately not, but this is in place of it. The continuation of these stories, it’s really incredible.
STO: We wanted to ask you about the anti-bullying organization you started, Pop Culture Hero Coalition. Can you tell us a little more about how you got started?
I heard about a little girl who was bullied for liking Star Wars. She was a little girl in Evanston, Illinois and the boys were following her around school saying “You can’t like Star Wars, you’re a girl.” Her mom Carrie Goldman asked if any women who like Star Wars or science could encourage her daughter. Hundreds of us responded telling her, “I love science. I love science fiction. Katie, you be you.” I was one of the ones who responded and so we kept in touch.
Carrie decided to write a book to end bullying because she saw what a huge issue it was. It’s called “Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs To Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear” and I highly recommend it. She asked me to help get her book into Comic Con and that’s when it all came together for me. I said, “Yes, let’s get it into Comic Con, but let’s do more. Let’s form a coalition to get every fan of Star Wars, Star Trek and all the other genres together with social justice organizations and end bullying.” So forming this intersection between pop culture and social justice, leading people to be the heroes we see on screen is what it’s all about.
We are working with clinical psychologists to create anti-bullying curriculum for schools, which we anticipate piloting in the fall of 2018. We’re working with some fantastic organizations that are helping us base it on evidence. So this is not just ideas, this is solid psychological exercises that we’re working on. People are saying we’re already making a difference, that we’re already saving lives.
STO: Do you have any messages for those who have experienced bullying firsthand?
First off, I want to say to you and anyone else out there, if you were ever bullied, it was never your fault, ever. Not a bit of it. It’s true and it’s really very important to always keep that in mind. Quite frankly, bullying always comes out of the pain of the other person. The minute you see someone being mean to someone else, you know it’s because of fear and insecurity. They need some momentary feeling of power but it’s not real power. Compassion and empathy is power. That’s where our real capabilities to be human come in.
STO: Thank you so much for joining us, Chase. It’s been such a pleasure.
I’m really grateful to be here. You guys are doing amazing work. Thanks for continuing our stories.
Star Trek Online: Victory is Life, will launch on PC in June and later on consoles. To download and play Star Trek Online today for free, visit www.playstartrekonline.com.
Join Chase Masterson aboard Star Trek: The Cruise III. Click here to enter to win a six-day cruise to the Caribbean alongside Star Trek’s most-popular stars.
To learn how you can support the Pop Culture Hero Coalition, please visit http://www.popculturehero.org/.
Star Trek Online is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online game where players can pioneer their own destiny as Captain of a Federation starship, become a Klingon Warrior and champion the Empire through the far reaches of the galaxy, or rebuild the Romulan legacy as the commander of a Romulan Republic Warbird. In Star Trek Online, players have the opportunity to visit iconic locations from the popular Star Trek universe, reach out to unexplored star systems and make contact with new alien species. Star Trek Online is currently available on PC, PlayStation4 and Xbox One.