Although playing Leeta was enjoyable for Chase Masterson, she wishes that she would have been allowed to bring more depth to her character.
Even though she was designed as “comic relief and eye candy,” Leeta had admirable qualities. “Leeta was written with many interesting qualities that were a blast to embody,” said Masterson. “As a Dabo girl she was playful, yet as a Bajoran she had a deep spiritual foundation. While she was fairly low on the totem pole at her job, she was willing to risk everything to stick up for her morals. And while Leeta was very devoted, she loved Rom with commitment and singular focus, she was no pushover.”
Had Masterson had her way, the character would have been a bit more subdued. “There’s a part of me that wishes I’d had the opportunity to portray a depth and dimensionality that never really surfaced in the character,” said Masterson. “The humor in our Ferengi storylines was, well, broad. While many people loved the style that defined Leeta, some saw it merely as farce. To be candid, there were times I tried to bring Leeta down to earth, aiming for a distinct yet more subdued persona. That didn’t go over too well on set.”
The reason it didn’t go over to well on set was that there were already serious and strong women on the show. “The directors and the audience had grown accustomed to Leeta being the wide-eyed doll of the crew, wearing her naïveté and joie de vivre on her sleeve (or, in her case, her chest),” said Masterson. “This was how Leeta fit into the show, I was frequently told. Kira, Dax, and the others were strong in their specific ways, and the show’s chemistry needed some variety. From an overall production stance, I completely understand that reasoning.”
Masterson is not sure that her performance as Leeta has aged well and knows for sure that it had an initial negative impact when it came to landing a future role. “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for ditzy-comic-alien girls in film and television these days; and, as happens with many actors (particularly in the Star Trek universe), overcoming preconceptions can be an uphill battle.
“Recently, when I was up for the enigmatic, mysterious co-lead role of ‘Singer’ in the feature film Yesterday Was a Lie, my history worked against me. Director James Kerwin initially couldn’t overcome his perception of me as Leeta, with her wide-eyed sweetness and little voice. I eventually landed the role, but only after the filmmakers found themselves surprised to discover that I was right for it.”
The soundtrack album for Yesterday Was a Lie, in which Masterson performs three songs, will be available January 2011 from La-La Land records.