Admiral Leeta is back from the Mirror Universe in Reflections, the newest update to the free-to-play MMORPG, Star Trek Online. In this exclusive interview with Star Trek.com, we catch up with Deep Space Nine’s very own Chase Masterson to talk about whether players can finally trust this version of Leeta and discuss how IDIC has helped her anti-bullying organization, Pop Culture Hero Coalition.
Star Trek Online: On Star Trek Day, we heard about how all the different shows have changed people’s lives. Why do you think Deep Space Nine still resonates so well with fans?
Chase Masterson: Deep Space Nine is Star Trek at its very heart. DS9 speaks of the Infinite Diversity and Infinite Combinations that was such a huge part of why Roddenberry created Star Trek - to show that we all have our rightful place in society, that each person is valuable and deserves a seat at the table. The fact that Deep Space Nine had a Black captain is one evidence of that, and there are so many others.
Then you look further at the show and what it said about family and justice - and risk. Kirk said “Risk is our business” and this is a whole space station taking risks every day, partly because they’re at war but also because of their relationships, which were so connected and interpersonal. Kirk’s ship boldly went into the universe. DS9 had us boldly going into our relationships, into ourselves, and into our own psyches.
Deep Space Nine explores the tenets of Star Trek through a deep personal lense and we still hear every day how close it is to fans’ hearts. Because the journeys of these characters are so deeply personal, DS9 helps other people get through their personal issues. It helps them face their own challenges because they see their heroes on-screen facing unthinkable obstacles and boldly going anyway. This includes challenges in our relationships, which is perhaps the most difficult kind of challenge of all.
We’re so excited to see you return to Star Trek Online. Can you tell us how you originally got involved with the game?
CM: It’s a great story. I really wanted to be in Star Trek Online, and the fans campaigned for it. So Leeta was actually the third character to be added to STO. First was Leonard Nimoy, second was Zachary Quinto (who plays a Khitomer Emergency Medical Hologram in the game but everyone knows as Spock from the J.J. Abrams films) and third was me. So it was the big triumvirate, Spock, Spock and Leeta. I know it makes no sense but that’s what happened and I couldn't be more honored and grateful that the fans asked for this. It’s such great company to be in.
What’s it like voicing a character in a video game like Star Trek Online, in comparison to playing the role on TV?
CM: STO is a blast for us as actors, and it’s an incredible experience for fans, mostly because it gives you more Deep Space Nine, more of these characters. People ask us every day, “Will there be more DS9? Are the characters going to be incorporated into the new TV shows?” We don’t know. But with STO, we know these characters do come back and there are whole entire story lines where we get to play our original roles and sometimes even different versions of them.
So as an actor, what a treat, right? I got the chance to play Holo Leeta, which is Leeta during the run of Deep Space Nine, looking like she did back then. Then there’s an episode in Victory is Life, where I play Leeta, 30 years later. So she’s Rom’s wife and they’ve become the First Lady and Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Empire. There are a lot of incarnations of the same character, which is a wonderful opportunity as an actor. And it’s so much fun for the fans to see that kind of arc.
Speaking of Leeta, you not only bring the original role back to the game, but you also play her Mirror counterpart, Admiral Leeta. What was it like taking on this role, after playing everyone’s favorite Dabo girl for so long?
CM: It’s always wonderful playing Leeta because of her warmth, and her compassion, and her integrity. Those are strengths that are integral to her character. It’s also fun playing a strong role in a different way, as Admiral Leeta, who is terrifying, ferocious, vicious and will stop at nothing to get what she wants, which is power.
Part of the great fun is that Leeta and Admiral Leeta are so opposite. There’s really no question that they are actually on completely different ends of the spectrum, regarding compassion, identity and motivation. Leeta stands up for justice. Mirror Leeta would eat the Borg Queen for breakfast.
Admiral Leeta is at the center of Star Trek Online’s newest update, Reflections, which recently launched on PC. What is she up to in this season?
CM: So in all of the episodes of STO that I’ve done so far, Mirror Leeta has been the adversary. The player and Admiral Leeta are trying to kill each other. In this season, Leeta finds out the Terran Empire has a plan that could destroy all known universes. So she defects from the Terran Empire, which is very strange because she also wants to run it, and then teams up with the player. She has to enlist them and convince them that this is the only way, that we have to work together on the same side to save all of the known universes. The drama and comedy in that — it’s a pretty ironic situation. And it’s super fun to get to move through the game with the player, navigating treachery, betrayal, and all sorts of impossible dangers to not only survive — but do what Admiral Leeta always wants, which is win and gain control.
I think the players will love the different twists and turns. The shockability of, “Oh my god! I can’t believe she did that.” There’s plenty of that in this new update for Star Trek Online.
In 2013, you founded an anti-bullying non profit called the Pop Culture Hero Coalition. Can you tell us what kind of work the Coalition does and let us know how Star Trek fans can get involved?
CM: Thank you! Pop Culture Hero Coalition is the first organization to use stories from Star Trek, Star Wars, The Avengers, Batman, Wonder Woman, Harry Potter and other stories kids and adults love so much to teach mental health. This includes navigating loneliness, depression, fear, self-doubt and imposter syndrome.
We originally founded this as an anti-bullying organization. My founding partner is Carrie Goldman who is the author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. The book was published in 2013 and it was #1 on Amazon again last week because the power of this book is so strong. It’s a big part of what we base our work on.
Carrie and I founded this organization in 2013 to end bullying and then we really started to think a lot about the reasons for bullying and the solution being to teach healthy identity —to teach empathy, inclusion, and IDIC like Star Trek does. These stories hold such transformative truth, things that have really changed the world as Roddenberry intended. We’re using these stories as the basis in our work with schools by combining evidenced-based psychology with themes from these stories, in order to teach children these crucial skills. If we change children's minds and hearts — teaching them healthy identity and IDIC —then we can have a world where we can all live long and prosper. And that’s what Pop Culture Hero Coalition is doing.
That’s wonderful. Thank you for leading such an incredible cause and for taking the time to catch up with us.
If you’d like to team up with Admiral Leeta to save the universe from the Terran Empire, be sure to play Reflections, the newest season for Star Trek Online, now available to download for free on PC.
This interview has been edited and condensed.