SCARLETT POMERS, THE YOUNGEST ASTRONAUT:
Voyager's Naomi Wildman Already Reaches For the Stars
by Michelle Erica Green
She's only eleven years old, but Scarlett Pomers has already been acting for more than half of her life. As Naomi Wildman on Star Trek Voyager, she's the youngest recurring character on a Trek series since Jake Sisko, though her character is even younger: a quick-maturing half-Ktarian, Naomi is only three, born after the nearly two-year pregnancy of her mother Samantha Wildman.
Viewers hadn't seen much evidence of Voyager's only child since her birth, so it was a delightful surprise to many when Pomers turned up this season in half a dozen episodes. Unlike precocious genius Wesley Crusher from The Next Generation or sophisticated teenager Jake from Deep Space Nine, Naomi is very much a kid - her first adventure took place mostly in a holographic fairy tale simulation, and in later episodes she taught Seven of Nine to play games. She's not all that afraid of the Borg, but she's quite fearful that if Voyager gets home, it might break up the only family she's ever known.
Executive producer Brannon Braga - who called Pomers "a great actress" in the May issue of Star Trek:The Magazine - has hinted that a homecoming might happen as early as the first episode next season. Pomers has already been asked to come back when shooting resumes after the spring hiatus. The young actress herself wouldn't mind the ship returning to the Alpha Quadrant, because she wants to play a Klingon...though the hours of prosthetic makeup required for that species contrasts markedly with the ten minutes it takes to put Ktarian spikes on her head.
"I get asked how long the makeup takes a lot, and the answer is ten minutes," Pomers noted last week after completing work on Voyager's season finale. Unlike actor Ethan Phillips, who has to arrive at the set between 3 and 5 a.m. to get Neelix's prosthetics put on and who suffers under the sweltering lights, Pomers barely remembers that her own makeup is there. "Sometimes I go to scratch my forehead, and I'm like, 'Auugh! Oops!' They have to paint it a little bit to make it look white on the base, so then they have to fix it."
The initial script for the episode "Once Upon a Time" gave her little warning about what to expect. "The first part where she's running through the holodeck, it said, 'Naomi Wildman, a Ktarian, runs through the forest on a path.' And we were like, 'Ktarian? What's that?'" She found out the first time she saw her face in the makeup. "The first time I saw myself on Voyager, I said, 'Oh my god, that's me! EEEE!'" Viewers still don't know much about Naomi's father's species - nor about the man himself - but if Voyager reaches home next season, that could change.
Alien appearances aside, the young actress said she relates to her character. "I think I'm kind of like her, because she really likes to learn." While Pomers isn't as interested in science as the Ktarian girl, she adds that she has learned a lot from the series technobabble and from Naomi: "She's really smart."
Pomers did not watch Voyager before her casting call, but her older brother was a fan. "When we found out that I had an audition, we watched it one time, and I really liked it - I thought it was cool how they had the computer talking." She also noticed last season's most prominent character. "It was one about Seven of Nine, and I thought she was cool because my brother told me all about the Borg."
Though she names Kate Mulgrew and Ethan Phillips as her favorite people to work with on the series - unsurprisingly, Captain Janeway is her favorite character - Naomi Wildman's prominent scenes have involved the Doctor and Seven of Nine. Though the little girl was initially terrified of the ex-Borg, she opened up to her in "Infinite Regress" and went to Captain Janeway with a plan to save Seven in "Dark Frontier" which ended up being close to the one used to track the Borg Queen's ship. Of Naomi's ability to march into the captain's ready room with suggestions, Pomers said, "That's really fun."
She's the only kid on the series, but Pomers noted that doesn't bother her, "because the adults on Voyager don't treat me like, 'Oh, a kid, go away!' or anything. That's cool!" Jeri Ryan described her young co-star as "such a little professional it's unbelievable...she holds her own for the big guys." Pomers' co-star in "Once Upon a Time" was Wallace Langham of The Larry Sanders Show and Veronica's Closet, but Pomers' mother Michelle Galvin laughed that her young daughter wouldn't have known who he was even without all the blue makeup.
A California native, Pomers names Voyager as her favorite role thus far and said she was initially sad after filming "Once Upon a Time" because she didn't think she would be appearing on the series again. "It originally wasn't going to be a recurring role, but then they turned it into one," she reported. "I said, 'Mom, I miss Voyager!' And then I came back on 'Infinite Regress.'"
Now she's a fixture in the Star Trek universe, having won a Young Artist Award for best performance in a drama series in a supporting role (her fourth win out of four nominations), and she's beginning to attend conventions. "It's really funny because you go there and there's so many people that love Star Trek," she observed. "One time I got fan mail that was from Africa. It's really neat." She did not stay long at Grand Slam in Pasadena this year - she attended as Garrett Wang's guest - because she was mobbed in the halls, but she and her family are traveling to several east coast venues during hiatus.
Pomers also has her own official web site [http://surf.to/pomers] and an unofficial club on Yahoo founded by a twelve-year-old fan. "She made this web site that is really adorable; it's called 'Naomi's Journal,' she writes day to day as if she was Naomi, what actually happened in the episodes Naomi is in - it's the cutest thing," said Galvin, who authorized the official web site and supplies it with pictures. Pomers herself reads various Trek message boards and e-mails friends online.
Though she has not yet gotten to do any stunts on Voyager, she was in a movie called Slappy and the Stinkers which required her to ride with four boys inside a bathtub on a flume and stop short before the bottom. "It was fun - I did a lot of screaming!" she recalled, adding that when she watches that movie now, "it's kind of for younger kids, and I go, 'Oh, god, that's so silly!'"
In a more serious role, she appeared on UPN's Seven Days last week as the hostage of disgruntled veterans suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. "I get gassed and blown up in a subway tunnel - they have to come back and save me and my friends on a field trip." Pomers has never played a villain, "but I think it would be fun to! I have played brats before." When she heard that someone was making a Tomb Raider movie, she was sorry she was not old enough to play Lara Croft, but she'd settle for making an appearance from the other realm on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Her fantasy role, however, would be a remake of National Velvet. A rider for many years, Pomers has a thoroughbred named Salem and nurses dreams of competing in the Olympics. "I haven't ridden in awhile because it's kind of been busy, but we found a good teacher at an equestrian center so we're going to see him tomorrow," she reported. She takes voice lessons from a church choir director and studies dance, but regular school hours get tricky. "I used to be home-schooled, but I might go to a school they've made for kids that are in acting - it's only four hours, so it's a professional school."
A professional since she was barely three, Pomers' mother found her an agent who got her a role in a Michael Jackson video before the girl was old enough to know who Jackson was. Then she did a voiceover for a squirrel in a Smokey the Bear commercial. Currently visible in television ads for Polaroid and Campbell's Soup, she recently did voice work for Carrie in Baby Geniuses.
Pomers also appears in Happy, Texas, the hit of this year's Sundance Film Festival which was snapped up by Miramax and will open later this year. "I play Jency Polk - she cries a lot," explained the actress. "She does a flaming baton trick and sometimes she burns everything down!"
"We just saw it; it's really pretty hilarious, and she has a pretty goofy role in it," added her mother. "The child that she plays wants to be the perfect little pageant girl in this small town where pageants are everything, and her talent is twirling these flaming batons, but she keeps setting everything on fire - you always hear the sirens going because Jency's burning down another building. It's the funniest thing."
Last week Pomers was planning to work on the soundtrack for the new Disney Geppetto, in which she might also appear on camera. "Certain times of the year are really busy," added Galvin. "She's actually up for three movies right now and we're hoping she gets one because it will give her something to do over the summer besides just classes and lolling around. Summer is such a dead time, it's nice to have a movie to work on for a few weeks."
Named for the heroine of Gone With the Wind - her brother Shane was named for the hero of the cowboy movie - Scarlett Pomers can foresee college in her future, but she already knows what she wants to study: "Acting is something that I want to do until I'm too old to do it." Star Trek has made opportunities available to her such as signing autographs for charity at a Ronald McDonald camp benefit, and she's likely to receive convention invitations for some time to come.
How does she feel about that legacy? "They said that I might get a collector card, but I'm not sure about an action figure," she reported hopefully. Naomi Wildman's going to be fine when her ship comes in.