Hollywood Insider: Bringing Forte’tude to Star Trek- An Exclusive Interview with Actress Marlene Forte

Marlene Chair

Marlene Forte is living proof that success stories can happen to those who put their hearts, minds and fortitude into making them happen. Forte, a Cuban American immigrant, former teenaged mom and self-made business entrepreneur who spent six solid successful years as a video store owner, has turned herself into the female version of a Quentin Tarantino, with an encyclopedic knowledge of films, directors and actors. Both her impressive acting portfolio and her one of a kind story have positioned her as a creative voice and force certainly to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry.

With her current TV role as Rosie Hernandez in Tyler Perry’s TBS Sitcom ‘House of Payne’ and her upcoming big screen part in ‘Star Trek XI’, Marlene is living proof that it’s never too late to follow your calling, and her fiery Latin heritage doesn’t even begin to capture the extent of her resilience!

Forte is one of those rare talents whose dedication continues to set a standard in Hollywood. With each character and role she takes on, Marlene Forte is refining a formula of proving Hollywood wrong by continually breaking through Hollywood’s stereotypes and carving a niche for the Latino community and tearing down the walls of “ethnic minorities”.

The forty-some year old Forte considers herself a ‘working actress’ and the story that lies behind her Hollywood success unfolds like a rags-to-riches movie script, but it is certainly a story rarely told and nothing short of “Forte’ Tude” as she refers to her tenacity to succeed. Now, like the beautiful Nichelle Nichols before her, Marlene Forte has found herself placed in the futuristic world of Star Trek, which in itself has always been a ground breaking setting for minority actors to take on roles beyond the stereotypes that hold them back.

Back in 1966 in the original Star Trek television series Nichols, a stunningly beautiful and talented African American actress, was given a role unheard of for a woman, let alone a minority woman. The role of Lt. Uhura, Chief Communications Officer of the Starship Enterprise, placed her into a character that held a position of power and leadership. Now in the same ground breaking tradition, Marlene Forte, whose work was well known enough to JJ Abrams to not have to audition for her role, finds herself cast in the role of Chief Transporter Officer in JJ Abrams new Star Trek XI (the prequel). The movie is set to open in theaters on Friday, May 8th 2009 and Forte joins a prestigious ensemble cast including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Wynona Ryder, Simon Pegg, and Zoe Saldana, to name a few.

The lovely Latino actress tells us that she has been acting for almost 20 years and that it has been a long haul to change the stereotypes that exist for older women and Latinos in the entertainment industry. She is also quick to point out that JJ Abrams has given her two opportunities now to play really good roles that have nothing to do with her ethnicity.

“I played Detective Mason in LOST…. Mason is not a very Latin name, and now, the Chief Transporter! We need more JJ’s out there writing for us. When I got the call to be part of this new movie, not only a ‘Star Trek’ movie, but a JJ Abrams’ ‘Star Trek’ movie, I was thrilled! It was the best Christmas present I got that year!!!! I think JJ Abrams is a young genius!”

marlene forte star trek 1

Forte says tells us that she grew up watching the original Star Trek starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and she is absolutely thrilled to be a part of something that she watched while growing up.

“As a child I always wanted one of those really cool costumes the women wore! I wanted one of those amazing hairstyles. Everyone keeps telling me that I will now be part of history, and I guess I’m just starting to realize that,” she says with a laugh. “ I just hope that this new generation of amazing young actors will create as much excitement as the original crew! I think they will because they are so good! It’s like the Brat-pack of space!”

While her role of Chief Transporter in ‘Star Trek XI’ is not a very big part, that doesn’t dampen her enthusiasm about the role. “There are no small parts in ‘Star Trek’, everyone is important in creating this wonderful future world,” Marlene says with conviction. ‘My character is at the control panel making sure that everyone it transported safely. I am the first female Chief Transporter and definitely the first LATINA Transporter,” she says with obvious pride.

No matter how big or small her role in ‘Star Trek XI’ is, Forte’s biggest hope is that fans of ‘Star Trek’ will embrace this new move and the new cast. “I want them to LOVE THIS MOVIE! I want a new generation to be as excited about ‘Star Trek’ as I was when I was young.”

Outside of her role in the new ‘Star Trek’ movie, Marlene Forte is highly involved in the Los Angeles Latino community. She recently put on a new hat as the creative director of the famed Theater Group, Company of Angels – headquartered at the legendary Alexandria Hotel in Downtown LA. She has also recently made her filmmaking debut, directing a series of webisodes for Latina Magazine starring her long time friend actress Judy Reyes.

She also co-starred in one of the lead roles in the Lifetime Television Movie of the Week called “LITTLE GIRL LOST: THE DELIMAR VERA STORY”, which world premiered on August 16, 2008 and continues to air on the network — it was the # 1 most watched movie on Lifetime. The ‘based on a true story movie’ featured an ensemble cast of acclaimed Latin actors including Judy Reyes (“Scrubs”), Anna Ortiz (“Ugly Betty”), Hector Luis Bustamente and A.Martinez.

Marlene Forte is definitely enjoying a hell of ride carrying as she does an acting dossier that may very well rival some of the most prominent Latino actors in the entertainment industry and on Friday, May 8th she steps into the rich realm of ‘Star Trek’ history and takes her place along side other strong, minority woman such as Nichelle Nichols, Linda Park, Whoopi Goldberg and Roxann Dawson (Caballero).

Star Trek: XI opens in theaters on Friday May 8th, 2009.

Marlene Forte can been seen next as Madame Sabine in the movie ‘Dare to Love Me’, which is the story of legendary Tango musician Carlos Gardel. ‘Dare to Love Me’ is currently in production and set for a 2010 release.