Interview: Chase Masterson
Chase Masterson is best known for her breakthrough performance as Leeta, the Bajoran Dabo girl on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Leeta started out as a relatively minor character on the show. But with Chase in the role, Leeta quickly became a fan favorite and was rewarded with a five-year story arc that saw her as the love interest to two series regulars.
You might also recognize Chase from her recurring role on General Hospital, or as the featured guest star on an Emmy Award-winning episode of ER. Chase also acted as host for the Showtime series Showtime Nighttime. Her guest star appearances include Sliders, a recurring role on Sci-Fi Vortex, and others, including co-host of NBC Saturday Night at the Movies.
On the big screen, Chase starred as Commanding Officer Callie O’Grady in Stephen King’s thriller, Frozen, with Faith Ford, and as the title role in Marina, with Bridget Wilson. Chase made her feature film debut opposite Maxwell Caulfield in In A Moment of Passion, and was also the lead in Married People, Single Sex, as well as a brief role as Richard Lewis’ girlfriend in Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood, Men In Tights. Other feature film credits include leads in Digital Man and Sammyville, a reality-based thriller in which Chase stars as a driven child protective services worker, and which was featured on 60 Minutes II.
TV Guide Online readers voted Chase the No. 1 favorite science-fiction actress on television, and Sci-Fi Magazine voted her as one of the top 20 people to watch in Hollywood.
Biographical information courtesy of chasemasterson.com
BadMouth recently caught up with Chase at the WonderCon comic-book convention in San Francisco, to talk about crazy fans, jazz music and loving a Ferrengi.
BadMouth: What current projects are you working on?
Chase Masterson: I’m really excited. The project that I’m most proud of is my own CD. It’s called Thrill of the Chase. I sing jazz—golden era stuff of the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s—like Sinatra did. It’s been really great. We’ve had an incredible response from the CD. I’ve got two label offers. We’ve sold about 1,500 copies or more at this points, and it hasn’t even been advertised. It’s really been a blessing. I always have sung, since I was a little girl. We’ve got about 10 great reviews. It’s available on my website, chasemasterson.com.
Another great thing about it is we raise a lot of great money for charity. A portion of the proceeds of the CD are going to an AIDS charity in Uganda, which is called “Hope For Africa.” I found them through the World Health Organization, because I wanted to find a place that was really grassroots—that the money didn’t go to big buildings and salaries. They’re raising money right now to dig a well for clean water. They take care of children with AIDS and their families.
It’s been such a great thing to be able to support them through the CD and to have fun with it as well.
BadMouth: Leeta started out as a smaller role, but grew in importance as the series progressed. How did you first get noticed—then pulled out of the background—to become a more central character in the show?
Chase Masterson: It wasn’t really a background thing. It was just smaller episodes—a little dialogue here and little there. I’m very grateful that fan response was so good, and I think that was part of it. I think the character of Leeta was a neat character, in that she was very compassionate. She fell in love with Rom who was the guy who was only pretty on the inside. I think that’s a very “Star Trek” decision.
BadMouth: How difficult was it as an actress to do those more intimate scenes with a man who was wearing pretty unappealing Ferrengi make-up?
Chase Masterson: (laughs) It was all so silly, and Max is such a good friend of mine, it wasn’t really tough at all. We had a great time. I miss seeing him play the character, because he was just so good.
BadMouth: You’re signing jazz now. If you had to choose, do you consider yourself more of an actress or a singer?
Chase Masterson: I go back and forth. I’m having a great time with all of it right now. Another project I have coming out is a lead in a movie, Creature Unknown. It’s a little horror flick, but it’s got a great story. That’s why I wanted to do it. It’s going to be out on video at the end of June.
I am having fun with both. I haven’t had to choose, yet. I think I’ll probably always sing, even if I get back on a series or whatever.
BadMouth: Do you think the resurgence of jazz music might have opened some doors for you?
Chase Masterson: Absolutely.
BadMouth: Norah Jones has the number one album in the country right now.
Chase Masterson: As well she should. She’s amazing. Diana Krall has also done a lot to popularize the music of the era. It’s the kind of music I’ve always loved, since I was a kid, 13-year-old. Other kids were listening to all the cool pop, Top-40 stuff. I was just always into jazz. So it’s kinda nice to have a childhood love be something that I’m doing for a living.
What’s interesting is that a lot of people really love this music. It seems like more of a niche, but then you talk to people, and people really love this kind of old, romantic, sexy stuff.
BadMouth: How often do you do conventions like this?
Chase Masterson: I do a lot of conventions. A part of that has been to support the charities and to get some awareness on the CD. It’s great for publicizing other projects. Trek fans are so loyal. I’m just so grateful for that. It’s nice to be able to publicize my work to them. They like to see other stuff.
BadMouth: Star Trek fans have a reputation of being, well, fanatical?
Chase Masterson: (laughs) Sometimes.
BadMouth: What’s your experience been like with fans from the show?
Chase Masterson: I think there’s a range from scary to positive with everyone-with sports fans, with soap fans, with television, with people in general. I don’t think that assessment is fair when people accuse Trek fans of being weird or “out there.”
We have incredible people: doctors, attorneys, just everyday housewives, construction workers and students. We have just a real cross-section on our show. I think people like to pick on Star Trek fans, sometimes, and I don’t think it’s fair.
BadMouth: Because Star Trek is such a cultural icon and it is so high profile, have you found it difficult to separate yourself from science fiction and perhaps be taken more seriously as an actress in other genres?
Chase Masterson: Not so much—maybe because I wasn’t a series regular, just a reoccurring character. I haven’t had problems with that really, and I’m grateful. I’ve gotten to do a lot of other stuff: General Hospital, ER, a lot of other shows.
BadMouth: Where do you hope to go with your career? If you were writing your own ticket, what would be your dream job?
Chase Masterson: I was praying about that on the way here. There are so many ways it could go right now. I could get back on a series—an hour drama, episodic—which I would love. I think I would love that more than anything, so that’s what I’m chiefly praying for. A half-an-hour comedy would be fun, too, because I love to do that. I could just produce, because I’m starting to produce films, or I could sing. I’ve been told that there’s a nice potential for that to be a new career.
It’s pretty diverse in all directions. I just think it’s a question of what happens first, ya know?