StarTrek.com wracked our brains recently, trying to come up with a fun way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day – and then it hit us. Let’s catch up with everyone’s favorite green beauties, the Orion Slave Girls. And so we reached out to Menina Fortunato, Crystal Allen and Cyia Batten, who, in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “Bound” so memorably portrayed Maras, D’Nesh and Navaar, respectively. The timing for this group chat was perfect, as the ladies are will make a rare joint appearance at the Hollywood Show, an autograph event to be held April 8-10 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles; go to www.thehollywoodshow.com for details.
All three are actresses, models and dancers with a diverse range of credits to their name. Fortunato appeared in episodes of MADtv and in the film Poseidon, and she served as Jennifer Garner’s stunt double in an episode of Alias. She’s also a mom, a frequent guest judge for dance events, and is producing films and videos. Allen starred in the film sequels Anaconda 3 and 4, the Trek fan film Of Gods and Men, and has guested on such series as Prison Break, The Sopranos, Sex in the City and Haven, and will soon be seen in the upcoming series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Batten was a member of The Pussycat Dolls, has her own menswear line, is also a mom, and has appeared in such films and shows as Crossing Jordan, Charlie Wilson's War, CSI: Miami, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Trek fans will recall that she also guest starred on Deep Space Nine (Ziyal in “Indiscretion” and “Return to Grace”) and Voyager (Irina in “Drive”).
Below is part one of our two-part conversation. Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow to read part two.
Let’s start with the present. What you each of you working on these days in terms of acting, producing, dancing, choreography and/or music, etc.?
Batten: I have been out of the business for seven years. I am in start-ups now. Currently, I'm creative director of a menswear company, AugustFiorin.com. I am also a brand strategist, working with creative start-ups who need support getting off the ground. I will always dance for fun and exercise. As for acting, I left when my son was born because of the hours and not wanting to be away from him for so long. I miss it sometimes and get offers to do things, but I find myself so intellectually and creatively stimulated by the start-up world that I have chosen to stick with this space. I actually just returned from a two week humanitarian trip to work with refugees along the Balkan Route with my charity Humanity for Change. And my menswear company has me in Europe at least five times a year, so this crisis touched me deeply.
Actually, Menina and Crystal, you’re both in Unbelievable!!!!! How was that experience, since it was like a sci-fi/Trek convention come to life?
Allen: Working on Unbelievable!!!!!! was really fun, except we had to have our faces green and our hands green. That wasn't great, but at least we didn't have full-body green!
The three of you will be together at The Hollywood Show. Our understanding is it’s your first joint appearance. How eager are you to do that, to sit and hang out and meet the fans and pose for pics together?
Allen: I’m really excited to hang out with Menina and Cyia together. It always makes a difference when all three girls are together. It’s more fun for the fans and more fun for us. We're like the Orion sisters reunited. And the fans love it. I've never met such loyal fans in my life. I’m so grateful.
Batten: It's always wonderful meeting the fans. They're truly the most loyal fans in the world. And I thrilled to be able to do it with the girls. I'm looking forward to seeing them.
Fortunato: Yes, this is our first joint appearance. I’m excited that we finally are able to make it happen. We’ve not been together since the filming of the episode in 2005, so this is a big deal. I know the fans wanted this for a long time, so I hope we don’t disappoint. I am really looking forward to meeting the fans and taking photos together.
With conventions in general, what’s the pleasure you take in meeting the fans face to face, and hearing their appreciation of you and your work?
Fortunato: I didn’t know what to expect when I made my first convention appearance (in Las Vegas in 2005). I was blown away by the loyalty and knowledge of the fans. They attend these events annually and know more about our characters than we do. Some of them were even dressed in costumes, even as Orion slaves painted in green. Star Trek fans are the most loyal fans. I haven’t done a convention since 2008, so it’s been a while for me and I’m looking forward to having some fun again.
Batten: Like I said, the Star Trek fans are the most loyal and lovely there are. It's a pleasure to be able to see their joy and to shake their hands or give them a hug of gratitude for their support.
Let’s talk Trek. First, how well did each of you know Star Trek before getting involved with the show?
Batten: I was familiar with it, but I was never a TV watcher growing up. I was a ballerina from a young age, so that was all I did in my free time!
Allen: When I first booked “Bound” I had no idea what I was in for. I had only watched a couple of the original Star Trek as a kid.
Fortunato: I didn’t know much about Enterprise prior to working on the show. However, I used to watch The Next Generation as a kid. My grandfather was a diehard Trekkie of The Original Series. If he were still alive, he would’ve been so proud of me.
How did each of you land your respective role in “Bound”?
Allen: I auditioned for the role of D'Nesh, the Orion who seduces the engineer. I think it also had to do with all three of us had dance training. I had a blast dancing. It was just very uncomfortable with the green paint. I have to say I was over it when we were done with the seventh day of shooting being green!
Fortunato: I got the role through an acting audition. Even though my role was centered around dance, they didn’t even see me dance. I assume they trusted my dance ability from my resume.
Batten: I knew the Star Trek people from my history on the show. I can't remember if it was an offer or not, but if not, I would have gone straight to the producers to read for it. They didn't really know I was a dancer and I remember the choreographer on day one of rehearsals being very nervous that he had an "actor" to make look like a dancer. It was rather satisfying to surprise him.
Once you learned you’d be playing Orion slave girls, did you go check out the various Trek episodes with the Orions? What did you think of the episodes?
Fortunato: I had no prior knowledge of the Orion Slave Girls at the time. The director showed us a photo of Bobbie Sue Luther to give us an idea of the look of the character. I did watch some of the old videos of the previous Orions for inspiration.
Batten: I didn't have time as I was shooting a film right up until we began rehearsing and shooting.
Allen: Yes, I actually watched the green girls in the original Star Trek to get a feel for how we were supposed to move. They were all seductive and snake-like. It was beautiful choreography.
Visit StarTrek.com again tomorrow to read part two of our interview with Menina Fortunato, Crystal Allen and Cyia Batten. The Hollywood Show will be held April 8-10 at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel in Los Angeles; go to www.thehollywoodshow.com for details.
To follow Menina Fortunato, go to:
To follow Crystal Allen, go to:
To follow Cyia Batten, go to:
Humanity for Change