Exclusive: Star Trek: Picard’s Ashlei Sharpe-Chestnut Has Two Words for Fans: “Buckle Up!”

Ashlei Sharpe-ChestnutWhile the third and final season of Star Trek: Picard is all about saying goodbye to the Next Generation crew, it has also introduced the literal next generation of characters. Jack Crusher and the La Forge sisters, Sidney and Alandra.  This week, SciFi Vision caught up with the woman who brings Sidney to life, actress Ashlei Sharpe-Chestnut (NCIS: Los Angeles, Cruel Summer).

Our first order of business was recapping events on the Titan. Sidney’s relationship with Jack (Ed Speelers, Outlander) has been a highlight of the season and fans are here for a romance. In fact, shippers have given the potential couple a name: LaCrush.  But the course of true love never did run smooth, and these two have serious issues to overcome.

In last week’s episode (307, “Dominion”), Jack not only read Sidney’s mind, he took control of her body, and Sidney was understandably freaked out.  Sharpe-Chestnut broke down Sidney’s reaction.

“They had the flirtation vibes [and] she’s trying to lean into this, but after that, she's a little scared,” Sharpe-Chestnut explained. “You see the moment where…she puts the phaser on him. I think she likes the guy, but she's terrified after seeing this dead changeling who looked just like her. It's hard for Sidney to really trust anyone on the ship in this specific moment.”

Ashlei Sharpe-Chestnut“I mean, yes, he did save [Sidney’s] life,” she added, “but it's still scary…so I think it's her trying to grapple with what's real.”

But in this week’s episode (308, “Surrender”) Sidney got past her reservations and backed Jack’s plan to retake the bridge. What brought her around?  Sharpe-Chestnut points to Jack confessing his fears.

“After his emotional moment, where he's just like, ‘I've always been different,’ she sees him emotional about this. I think she puts her own guard down, [stops] being scared of him, and empathizes with him in a way. He saved [her] life, so if [they] can save the bridge crew's life, she's all for it.”

Sharpe-Chestnut says the rest of the season is “jam packed.”  Vadic (Amanda Plummer, Ratched) may be dead, but “the fight is definitely not over. I mean, we're getting ready to see what's behind this red door!”

Asked for details, all she would say is “Episode nine and 10? Buckle up!”

Speaking with Sharpe-Chestnut, it’s clear she’s thrilled to be a part of the Star Trek universe, and the role has been more than she expected.

“I was only told I would be in two to three episodes,” she revealed. “I had no idea that I would be in this many episodes, let alone with so many lines. Also talking to these iconic characters! I had no context going into this, [and] I'm super grateful for this opportunity.”

“It's been a cool thing,” she continued, “to see Sydney's progression this season. Yes, we see her as this eager person in the beginning, but we also see her fight in episode 307 and then being integral in 308, and then in the subsequent episodes as well. It's been wild, just to see how these writers have really given Sydney an arc this season.”

She’s also been happy to introduce the franchise to a new generation of fans, telling us that “some of my friends, they're not familiar with the Star Trek world and they're only just watching it for the first time this season, and they're hooked. They're like, ‘Ashlei, even if you weren't in it, I'd still watch,’ which is really a testament to our writers and the decision makers for how they allowed the season to come about.

“It's really cool to see people who wouldn't usually press play to watch Star Trek and how they're now new Trekkies... we're allowing more people, new and old, to enjoy this universe and this franchise.”

With just two episodes remaining, fans are clamoring for more. While Paramount+ has announced no plans for a spinoff, showrunner Terry Matalas already has a title – Star Trek: Legacy, and Sharpe-Chestnut is here for it.

“I think it's something that the fans really want. I've been touched so many times seeing fans say, ‘Please, can we have Sidney continue on if there's a spinoff?’ ”

“I'm in conversations for other things,” she said, “but I will say that if #StarTrekLegacy is a thing, I would prioritize that. Because I would love, love to reunite with not only this cast, but the crew and Terry and all of our writers. What they've been able to create this season, I just would love to come back and continue Sidney's journey.”

What are the chances that might happen? Sharpe-Chestnut can’t say, but she does think “the fan response has been significant,” adding “I was told this is how Strange New Worlds came about, fans actually had a petition, and people are petitioning. I saw a petition with 15,000 signatures already for us, for a spinoff. So, this is something that people want. The cast wants it; the crew wants it; our writers want it. It's just down to the decision makers at this point.

Playing a popular character in Start Trek comes with opportunities and obligations. We asked Sharpe-Chestnut how she’d feel about attending fan conventions for the rest of her career, and her response was perfect: “I'm okay with that, because the way these fans have embraced me, I can't wait to meet them.”

Star Trek: Picard streams exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S. with new episodes on Thursdays. In Canada, it airs on Syfy Channel and streams on Crave. The show is also available in 200+ countries on Amazon Prime Video.

Fans can also watch Sharpe-Chestnut as FBI Agent Summer Morehurst on NCIS: Los Angeles, which is in its final season on CBS and CBS All Access.

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