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Why Lt. Erica Ortegas From Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Looks So Familiar

"Star Trek: Strange New Worlds" is the U.S.S. Enterprise's most recent voyage into the well-explored system known formally as television. Canonically following up the 2017 Paramount + series "Star Trek: Discovery," the spin-off production sees Captain Chrisopther Pike (Anson Mount) and his crew adhering to the famous creed — to boldly go where no one has gone before. Sure, it's a bit ironic that a show specifically designed to spin off from another property would claim to promote original excursions, but since "Star Trek" is at least 13 movies and 12 television series deep, maybe that mantra is more of a guideline.

Aside from Mount, "Strange New Worlds" features Ethan Peck as a younger Spock (not to be confused with a slightly less young Zachary Quinto in the same role) and Rebecca Romjin –- of Mystique fame -– as Pike's first officer, Una Chin-Riley. The cast is rounded out with a number of faces, both new and familiar to the acting industry. 

Comparatively new is the talent behind Lieutenant Erica Ortegas, the Enterprise's helmsman, Melissa Navia. Although "Strange New World" is Navia's highest profile role to date, the actress has been diligently working since 2011, with dozens of official IMDb credits listed for the last decade. Here's what she's known best for.

Melissa Navia's first role was the lead in Love Eterne (2011)

Melissa Navia entered the industry in a blaze of indie glory by starring in an independent film called "Love Eterne." The movie follows Medina (Navia) coping with the emotional trauma of her fiancée's passing. While handling her own issues, she witnesses the lives of her friends progressing happily forward and has something of a karate-themed mental breakdown. In 2014, the film was reworked by the director-writer, Joseph Villapez, to improve the audio (per Film Threat's 2012 review, the original cut caused audiences to miss most of Navia's dialogue) and to correct other editing issues: it was retitled "Love Eterne Mourning."

To Villapez's credit, the reworked version of the film earned a few awards, including the Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival's Best Family Dramedy Micro Short Award (as chronicled by its IMDb page). Even with an upgrade, though, googling the title "Love Eterne" more prominently retrieves information about a 1963 Hong Kong musical film of the same name. Fortunately, Navia's abilities were noted as potent and, more importantly, separate from the independent film that first gave her a shot at professional acting, and her career was allowed to progress in the same way that Medina's friends got to. 

Melissa Navia did structured improv for Common Charges (2015)

Seemingly undeterred by previous experience, Melissa Navia continued to return to the independent production scene again and again. In 2014, she worked on "Common Charges," a web series that follows the tenants of an apartment complex in NYC sharing their stories with each other. It's about policies and politics, personal gossip and consuming drama. The show received a single, 10-episode run. Navia portrays Wendy, a tenant, who lives with her friend Geoff (Robert King), whose nickname is not particularly family friendly.

As opposed to using a rigid script, "Common Charges" is built on a number of intersecting improvised performances, something which director Jon Fallon has stated was an incredible hurdle to jump effectively (per a 2016 tweet by Navia herself). The extra effort paid off because the series was awarded Best Acting in A Web Series by The Hollywood & Vine Film Festival (per a 2014 tweet from the social media-savvy actress herself). 

Melissa Navia got bloody for The Chosen (2016)

Arguably, a performer hasn't really worked the indie circuit until they've done a low-budget horror. In 2016, Melissa Navia did "The Chosen," a film that follows Cameron (Kian Lawely, yes, the one who was fired from "The Hate U Give") as he attempts to save his niece, Angie (Mykayla Sohn) from a demon. Navia plays Sabrina, a character whose entire purpose is to dump exposition on the protagonist as ominously as possible, which she does, very successfully. 

As Sabrina, Navia curls in a tight ball with a stuffed animal clutched to her chest as she whispers about the child-stealing antics of Lilith, Adam's first wife. Though admittedly not particularly into horror, Navia told Screen Slam that she was delighted to flex her skills with an eerie character who just happened to scream and leave bloody handprints everywhere. When you end up telling a kid to sacrifice six of his family members to save one, you have to find your kicks somewhere, right?

Melissa Navia survives a war in Hymns (2016)

Possibly the most unique project to be listed here, Melissa Navia was part of a 2016 indie film called "Hymns" which follows three women stuck in isolation during a time of war. The war itself is not specified, neither is the time period. All that is given to the audience is an understanding of a looming, chemical weapon threat. The three women, Ingrid (Dee Herlihy), Irene (Navia), and Mary (Mirjam Karstoft) desperately try to find comfort in each other, but it's never quite enough ... and other times, it's too much. "Hymns" ends as mysteriously as it begins and never pretends that providing the viewer with any sense of understanding was the intent.

The best way to describe "Hymns" is to say that it is a filmed play, following the exploration of a small group of deep, interpersonal relationships in a primarily singular location. For her part, Navia's turn as Irene allows her a lighter personality than her costars, although everything is comparative in war.

Melissa Navia is a vigilante hacker in Bull (2022)

Taking a turn towards the mainstream, Melissa Navia filmed two episodes for CBS's courtroom procedural series "Bull," which follows Jason Bull (Michael Weatherly) as he uses his very specific set of skills –- and his standard leading man cocktail of high school charm and irritability –- to conquer the courtroom for justice. In the sixth and final season, Navia portrays Tidal for two episodes, a young hacker who gets in the way of a big case before ultimately helping the good guys to solve the digital mystery.

Tidal forms a bond with Taylor Rentzel (MacKenzie Meehan), the resident techie who has a legendary past as an infamous hacker. Sure, she does her own thing, too, which kind of gets in the way, but no one ever assumed a vigilante hacker was going to follow the rules. 

As previously mentioned, Navia's career is still young, so what is listed here covers a significant portion of her body of work. With "Star Trek: Strange New World" getting another season soon, though, her time in the spotlight will continue to grow and, hopefully, so will her career.