"Sometimes… you do what you got to do"
Chase Masterson was born in Colorado Springs in Colorado, USA. Although she had a lot of different roles in cinema and series, Trekkies remember her best as Dabo girl Leeta in Star Trek – Deep Space Nine. We asked for an interview on VIECC 2017 and were very happy to get a chance to talk to the nice actress, dancer and singer.
(ANMERKUNG: Dies ist die englischsprachige Originalversion des Interviews. Eine Übersetzung auf Deutsch findet man HIER)
Is this your first time in Austria, when you’re dressing very Austrian…?
Thank you! It’s not my first time in Austria but I love the Dirndl.
So you use every opportunity to wear it?
Yes, I do. This is my first day I wear it. I always loved these and I ordered it especially for the con and I thought it would be fun and I asked my friends “Is it too cheesy, is it too silly for me to wear it?” and they said “it is ok”, so is it ok?
Yes it is ok, because we are still in the season, we have still the Oktoberfeste going on. I would talk about lots of things…
… but we should talk about Star Trek. You were playing Leeta in 16 episodes of Deep Space Nine…
Why do they always get that wrong? I think Memory Alpha is lying to me. [laughs] Your first appearance was in “Explorers”, an episode about Ben Sisko building an old Bajoran ship. What can you tell us, how did they introduce you to Deep Space Nine, your character? What was the journey of Leeta and what was your input by playing the character?
Thank you, a great question. First of all, I was told that Leeta would be only in one episode and I was still excited over it, because it was a show I’ve been looking forward to do and I actually wanted to do this show particularly because I was in an acting class – ten people in a city of twelve million people – and in this were Jonathan Del Arco – Hugh, the Borg on Next Generation – Garrett [Wang] from Voyager and me. Coincidentally. Now this was before Garret and I were on Star Trek. And Garrett and I had not worked very much in general. So Jonathan was in the middle of doing Next Generation and he would go to these conventions on weekends and he would come to class on Monday and tell us how much he loved doing these shows and doing these conventions. And I thought that is so great, that’s the show I want to be on. And so I auditioned – in Los Angeles you can pay to do show cases to meet a casting director. So I found the Star Trek casting director and I paid 30 dollars to meet him at this showcase and he brought me in for the role of Mardah. If they like your work, they can bring you in for a formal audition for the role of Mardah and it got to the final two of us. But I didn’t get that one and then about a year later I got news that they wrote the role of Leeta for me. So that was a huge honor. And then I was told that it would be only one episode – and then I just stayed, they kept writing more.
They liked you probably…
I am grateful.
I think you introduced yourself to Dr. Bashir, pretending that you’re having a cold.
It was a more funny-sided character
It was important for me, because the show is so dark
Kira is such a dark character, Bajoran character…
And Leeta is maybe the opposite of that.
Exactly and also with so much of the show being dark, it was important to have that balance. And it was one of the things that made Deep Space Nine such an excellent show. It’s that it did give room for both the dark and the pathos of life and the humor and fun to relieve the tension. So with the Ferengi and me, there was time, you know, there was room, yeah, just for relief. With the rest of the show.
I think in Deep Space Nine they also showed the civilian life, which you didn’t have before on Star Trek. With the bar – it felt like a small town.
Yeah, because there were so many recurrent characters as in life. That’s how your life works, right? You have your regulars and you have your recurring characters in your life. And it’s nice to see and to have all … so real, so fleshed out.
One thing – maybe some people got thinking – when Leeta came together with Rom. It was Dr Zimmerman – who was played by Robert Picardo, the doctor on Voyager – he came to Deep Space Nine, like the real Dr Zimmerman who programmed the holographic doctor, and he was like hitting on Leeta, like all the time and he was very proficient about it. How did it play out? Was this the turning point of your character?
Yes, that was when Leeta was allowing herself to have feelings for Dr. Zimmerman, because Rom would not profess his love. I really loved Rom, but I thought I have to settle for… Bob Picardo. So I decided to go off on a Shuttle with Bob Picardo, because he was gonna give me my own Café. And that’s when Rom realized it’s now or never. And he better profess his love. And he did! And we lived happily ever after. And now he’s the Grand Nagus.
And you’re the Grand Nagusene…?
First Lady of Ferenginar! Yes, I am.
You did work on different Sci-fi shows afterwards and some of them I noted – I like the show, maybe you noticed that we have DC Comics shirts on – and you were on The Flash.
The Flash! Yeah, I was on the Flash, it was fun. They wrote a role for me, also, on that show.
But you weren’t a superhero or a super-powered character…
No, I lived in a house where Barry’s mother was killed. So it was an interesting way to get them to the house, and I was just the character that now owns that historic house.
She was like a witness or something like that, I remember? And Joe was investigating that.
Joe was investigating, yes.
And there was some chemistry there between Joe and you.
There WAS some chemistry with Joe! Yes, that would have been nice. I don’t know, nothing happened.
Joe was nice guy…
A nice guy, yeah… so that was fun. It was just one episode. I heard that I was coming back, but it didn’t happen yet, so we will see.
Then you did something which is not a TV show – you do a lot of voice acting too. For computer games and also for audio drama. What was your work with Doctor Who audio drama – because this is very significant, because your character’s name is Vienna Salvatori.
Yes my character’s name is Vienna – like Vienna Comic Con! So Vienna – and this is how it happened: I was referred to Big Finish, which does the audio dramas for Doctor Who. They do all the BBC-licensed audio dramas. Just like the show is official, these are official. And they use all the original Doctors and I did one episode opposite Tom Baker. And I was still in London and they said “Hey we have this other role for this American opposite Sylvester McCoy” and that was the role of Vienna and I played opposite Sylvester, I played his nemesis. And when the episode came out, we broke the Internet. It sold very well, and they said “Chase, would you like your own spin-off?”. They spun the character off, into my own show, which is called Vienna, that was four years before, so we’re in season four and … Vienna is fun. She’s an impossibly glamorous mercenary assassin. With a heart of gold. And always lands on the side of good. So basically, if someone hires Vienna as an assassin, to kill a good guy, she’ll turn it around and she’ll kill the bad guy. She always does it in a very interesting way. She is really smart and she tends to not use violence - like Doctor Who. She let’s the bad guy do himself in. So she’s not a girl with a gun. She really let’s them – like she psychologically finds ways to have them be their own undoing. But she’s also very clumsy. I always say “she’s a clumsy assassin”. She’s like La Femme Nikita and Elaine from Seinfeld had a baby.
Is there a possibility that you will cross-over to the main show, somehow?
I would love it – I haven’t heard of that yet. Right now it’s just audio and I think especially because they have a woman Doctor now, that that probably wouldn’t be a thing. But I’m glad that they have a woman Doctor. I think it’s – I don’t know if somebody’s gonna be angry with me, but I don’t care, I think it’s really wonderful just to see take that angle on the Doctor.
Yeah we will see how that turns out? But a different show is on, Star Trek Discovery is on and did you watch it, and what are your thoughts about that?
To be honest, I only watched the premiere. I liked it, I think it’s going in a good direction and I’ve been travelling since, so I didn’t have a lot of time, I spent a lot of time working on my charity so I haven’t watched too much other television in a couple months. I will say, I think the character of Michael is an excellent one, a really strong one. I don’t know how much back story they’ve given her since the pilot. I hope they give more of the back story of all the characters, I think that’s part of what makes it really rich whether it’s in conversation, exposition, make it seen what makes the character tick. One thing I did have an issue with in the pilot is – first strike. I didn’t like they were going to take the first strike, a pre-emptive strike. I don’t think it’s a good lesson politically, I just think that it’s a tough thing.
That’s probably something they put a lot of thought about into?
For me that’s not very Star Trek.
I will support you, that it’s a very good Sci-fi show, but they don’t have the Star Trek vibe about yet. But they will change about time, it’s still a very young show, they need some time to … figure things out.
Those are the things that are really important to keep intact. The Klingons looking different doesn’t bother me. What I think they need to call to is the tendence of Star Trek. I love that there’s a LGBTQIA audience representation, I think that they have some really strong characters, I love Doug Jones work, always, so I think there’s a lot of potential in the show.
Yes, Star Trek was always about a positive future, positive thinking…
… and diversity…
… and pro-science and stuff like that. They could elaborate on that a bit more maybe. But I can tell you, I watched all the episodes until now, I think there are about nine, and there it gets along feeling more like Star Trek. It’s not only dark and gloomy and grim.
Right. Perseverance through conflict is obviously one of their strong themes. I’ve seen bits and pieces, but I haven’t seen the whole thing yet.
I asked Max before, about how he would think like the Ferengi would be in Discovery maybe. Because he is a big fan, he watched all the episodes until now. What would you think – the same about the Bajorans in Discovery’s world? Would they be like fitting in there?
I think it would fit! I think it would fit, because Bajorans been a spiritual and persecuted people and that’s relevant.
The theme of war is in there.
I would love to tell you about the theme of charity I founded. It’s called Pop Culture Hero Coalition. It’s the first ever organization to use stories from Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, also comics, Batman, Superman, Flash…
Gabriel (wearing a Green lantern Shirt): Green Lantern…
Green Lantern! We use these stories to speak out against bullying. We do this in schools, Comic Cons and communities. And we work against bullying in all it’s forms whether it’s racism, misogyny, LGBTQIA bullying, cyberbullying… we teach kids that kindness and justice is fun. And I think that’s a really important message to them and adults. And I think that these stories have such a great themes and messages of heroism, that’s why we love them, right? And to use these stories to really change the world, we stand for heroism, not just on screen, but also in real life. So it’s called Pop Culture Hero Coalition. And you can find us on popculturehero.org or on social media @superheroIRL.
Time for a photo – without the dabo wheel… are they manipulated by Quark? Could you tell us about that?
You know, sometimes… you do what you got to do. And the leader stands up for you.
Thank you for the interview.
Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to be here and talk to you.
Fotos von Michael Seirer Photography