Tales from the Road – Backstage with Star Trek’s Chase Masterson

From Star Trek to Doctor Who and Beyond

I’ve definitely had some unique life experiences. I started in the entertainment industry as a young child and over the years have had the chance to work in all different capacities ranging from performing to producing to promotions and publicity.

If you’ve read any of the past Tales from the Road articles, you’ll note that I’ve had some great encounters in the world of rock n’ roll, including my exploits as Steven Adler’s publicist. Backstage with Steven Adler and Backstage with Sebastian Bach are entertaining features about two examples of my life in the music industry. And, there are more great behind-the-scenes stories coming about this exhilarating world of guitars, drums, and primal screams.

As some know, though, my universe doesn’t end with rock n’ roll. I have worked in lots of different genres of music including pop, rock, rap, blues, jazz and classical for artists ranging from Janet Jackson to Sting to Crowbar to Robert Cray. However, I actually first achieved success in the acting world – putting me in touch with the toast of Hollywood.

I grew up watching Star Trek reruns on the little television in the kitchen while I ate my breakfast each morning. Like many red-blooded young men, I thought William Shatner’s Captain Kirk was the coolest and I thought Nichelle Nichols’ Lt. Uhura was the sexiest thing I’d ever seen.

Since then, there have been a number of great Star Trek series continuing the legacy of Gene Roddenberry’s original concept of “Wagon Trail to the Stars.” Star Trek vehicles include the live-action series The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard, and Strange New Worlds.

There are also a number of successful animated series in the Star Trek universe. These include The Animated Series, Lower Decks, and Prodigy. And, of course, there are the numerous Star Trek films, both with television cast members as well as rebooted versions with new casts.

That little kid who grew up watching Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock every morning dreamed of one day being on a Star Trek series. I did have a few auditions over the years for roles on the different series, but outside of playing dress-up in the bedroom, I never actually publicly appeared as a Star Trek character. And yet, I was once one of the featured celebrities at a Star Trek convention. They called me an “Honorary Star Trek Alum” for the night and treated me like a king.

I had been working on a movie with Chase Masterson, one of the popular actresses from the Star Trek universe. She had previously starred on DS9 as Leeta and was named the “Favorite Science Fiction Actress on Television” by TV Guide. She was also named one of the “50 Sexiest Women” by Femme Fatales magazine.

Chase was scheduled to be honored with Ethan Phillips as one of the royal guests at a Star Trek convention in Indiana. Chase would be honored as Queen of the event and Ethan, who played Nelix on Voyager, would serve as King.

Right before heading to Indiana for the event, Chase was informed that Ethan had a conflict and couldn’t come to the convention. The convention staff was able to secure Denise Crosby who played Tasha Yar on TNG as another guest to replace Ethan. However, Denise couldn’t exactly serve as King – so Chase asked if I would do it.

As much as I have always loved Star Trek, this was my first time ever going to a Star Trek convention. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I discovered that in their own unique way, these events are absolutely beautiful. These events, I learned,  are so meaningful because they encompass people coming together to share their love for a common theme. And Star Trek has always had messages of inclusion, acceptance, and unalienable rights for all. Those are easy things to bond over.

Chase, of course, is best known for her role as Leeta, the Dabo girl at Quark’s bar on DS9. She appeared in the show from 1995 to 1999, and her character was later featured in the video game Star Trek Online.

The role of Leeta was actually originally written for a different actress, but the producers were so impressed with Chase’s audition that they changed the character to fit her. Leeta quickly became a fan favorite, and critics raved about her.

After DS9 ended, Chase was able to work in a variety of film and television opportunities. She appeared in such television series as ER, Sliders, and The Flash, and she also starred in movies such as the science fiction film Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, the SyFy channel feature Manticore, and the modern film noir classic Yesterday Was a Lie.

In recent years, Chase has focused a lot of her work on audio dramas. She has starred in several Doctor Who audio adventures from Big Finish Productions, and she also has her own spin-off series, Vienna, in which she plays a glamorous bounty hunter.

In addition, Chase has appeared on stage in such vehicles as Agnes of God, The Vagina Monologues, Cabaret, A Chorus Line, Our Town and Guys and Dolls, and she is also a brilliant singer and songwriter. She has released several albums that showcase her amazing talents and has also appeared around the country in concert.

Part of what I have always loved about Chase is her embrace of the underdog. We both have worked very hard to use our notoriety to help others in need.

Chase is one of the founders of the Pop Culture Hero Coalition which is an incredible organization dedicated to fighting bullying, racism, misogyny, cyber-bullying, LGBTQ-bullying, and other forms of hate.

As Chase’s date for the convention, I was treated just like one of the Star Trek cast. I gave autographs, posed for pictures, and had the most wonderful time meeting people from all over the world who share a common love for Roddenberry’s vision of “a world with no hunger, poverty, prejudice, or greed”.

Part of the human experience is that you may not always have all the background you’d like to face a challenge, but you do it anyway. At least, that’s what I do. It’s about testing our limits and always seeing where we can grow and learn.  

Being one of the guests of honor at a Star Trek convention despite never having appeared on Star Trek probably counts as one of the more unique adventures I’ve had. And, it was one of the best.

The only way I think you could top my Star Trek convention experience would be to actually appear on one of the current Star Trek series. If a political figure like Stacey Abrams can make a cameo in this unique world, maybe the doors aren’t totally shut on my appearing on one of the shows.

But even if that never happens, I still have a beautiful connection to the Star Trek universe as the one-time King at a royal-themed Star Trek convention alongside the stunning leading ladies Chase Masterson and Denise Crosby. And that’s a pretty darn special memory to have.

Peace. Love. Trust.

Rikki Lee Travolta

Check out more of Rikki Lee Travolta’s Tales from the Road at Life and Times:

Tales from the Road – Backstage with Steven Adler

Tales from the Road – Backstage with Sebastian Bach

For more information on Chase Masterson visit: www.ChaseClub.com.

For more information on Denise Crosby visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denise_Crosby

For more information on Star Trek visit:  www.StarTrek.com.

For more information on the Pop Culture Hero Coalition visit: www.PopCultureHero.org

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