Scarlett Pomers: Child's Play
Written by Steven Eramo
Battling the Borg, observing space anomalies and serving as captain's assistant are all part of life in the Delta Quadrant for Star Trek Voyager's Naomi Wildman. The half-human, half-Ktarian was born aboard the USS Voyager on Stardate 49548.7 while the ship was under attack by the Viidians. A few months later, Naomi, her mother, Ensign Samantha Wildman, and most of Voyager's crew were stranded on a hostile planet by the nomadic Kazon Nistrim. Luckily, they were eventually rescued but this proved to be just the first in a long line of space adventures for Voyager's littlest crewmember.
Thanks to her father's Ktarian genes, Naomi has matured much quicker than most children and, despite only being three years old, looks and behaves as if she were closer to eleven. The character was first played by Brooke Ashley Stephens in the fourth season episode Mortal Coil, but when Naomi reappeared in the show's fifth season Scarlett Pomers had assumed the role. The adorable young actress has managed to achieve in Naomi the perfect balance of childlike inquisitiveness and adult sensibility and, in doing so, has won the hearts of Voyager fans worldwide. While most grown-up actors usually dislike auditioning, the younger Pomers enjoyed trying out for the part.
"It was really fun," she recalls. "They called me in for an audition, and, I think, Brannon [Braga, Voyager co-executive producer] and Brad [Yacobian, line producer] were there along with four other people. I read my lines and then they brought me back for a second reading. Some of the same people were there but the script had changed a lot. Naomi was on the holodeck and we were using phasers and all these weird things were supposed to be happening around us. She was pretty brave in that scene, but then they decided to make her more like a scared little girl. So I did a second audition and a few days later I got a phone call telling me that I had the part."
Unlike her on-screen Talaxian godfather and baby-sitter Neelix (Ethan Phillips), the actress has to undergo only a minimal make-up process in order to achieve her human/Ktarian look. "The first thing they do is put some glue on the bottoms of these little horns and put them down the middle of my forehead. After that, they paint them and then paint a little bit around my face and that's about it. Jim does my make-up and he's a really nice guy. He always shares his popcorn jelly bellies with me," laughs Pomers.
The actress made her Voyager debut in the episode Once Upon a Time in which the Delta Flyer and its crew, Lieutenant Commander Tuvok (Tim Russ), Lieutenant Paris (Robert Duncan McNeill), and Ensign Wildman (Nancy Hower)crash-lands beneath the surface of a planet. While Voyager conducts a search for its missing crewmates, Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) asks Neelix to look after Naomi until they find her mother. He takes her to the holodeck where they are kept amused by Flotter T Wotter (living water) and Trevis (a living tree), two forest-dwelling characters from one of Naomi's storybooks, The Adventures of Flotter.
"The first time I saw the Voyager set I was amazed because it's built like a real ship," explains the actress. "The hallways is shaped like a doughnut and has all these little hallways sticking out of it. Sickbay is down one end of the hall and some of hte other areas, like engineering, are down around another hallway. The only sets that aren't part of that unit are the bridge, the captain's office, the briefing room and the mess hall."
"They built this really neat forest set for the episode," continues Pomers. "It had a little path, a pond and all these humungous trees. One of my favourite things about this story, though, was getting to work with Ethan Phillips - I call him Johnny - he's very funny and is always making me laugh. This was also my first time working with Jeri Ryan [Seven of Nine] and that was pretty cool. I had a lot of fun with Wally Langham, who played Flotter. We'd look at each other's outfits and make jokes about them. The man who played Trevis, Justin Loius, was nice, too, but he had a cold while we were filming so I felt kind of bad for him."
Once Upon a Time marks the first and only time thus far that the actress has appeared with her on-screen mother Nancy Hower. "Naomi and her mom got to play together in the forest at the end of the story," she says. "Nancy is a nice lady and because it was such a beautiful set it made it a relaxed and easy scene for us to do."
Like some people on Voyager, Naomi was afraid of Seven of Nine when the ex-Borg first joined the crew. However, after an unexpected encounter with Seven in the mess hall Naomi discovered that there was nothing to fear. In fact, in Infinite Regress, she starts following Seven around the ship with the intention of emulating her behavior in an effort to become the perfect captain's assistant. Much to Naomi's surprise, she teachers Seven a thing or two in this episode.
"When Seven begins to act like a little girl they go to Naomi's quarters to play Kotis-Kot," says Pomers. "That was fun because I tried to figure out how to really play the game from the dialogue Seven and Naomi have in the scene. Seven was also supposed to ride a rocking horse. If you notice in Naomi's quarters she has a rocking horse but it's kind of this weird-looking alien thing made out of foam. They were going to have Seven rock back and forth on it but she couldn't because it had started to break from being moved around the set so much.
"Jeri [Ryan] is one of my favourite people on the show," she adds. "We talk together between takes and sometimes we have races up and down the halls. I met her little boy Alex when he came to the set and he's really nice, just like his mom. I enjoyed doing this episode with Jeri and also another one called Bliss. I had a lot of scenes with her and Bob Picardo [The Doctor] and the alien, Qatai [W Morgan Sheppard]. Then there was that thing in Space, you know, the anomaly, which was cool."
Although she does not have any toruble memorizing her lines, Pomers admits that some of the scientific terms or technobabble used on the show can be a bit toungue-twisting at times. The actress also says that it is sometimes hard to keep a straight face whenever she is in a scene opposite Ethan Phillips.
"There's something Johnny does where he honks through it and starts dancing," she giggles. "If the two of us are on camera and it's my close-up he'll take his fake Neelix teeth and stick them out the sid of his mouth and try to make me laugh. So then I have to get back at him the next time, but he's pretty good at staying cool. I'm usually the one who ends up cracking a smile or laughing.
"If we're doing something dramatic, though, Johnny is usually extremely serious. In Once Upon a Time there's a scene in which Neelix is telling Naomi about when his family died and Johnny wasn't too funny then. He was really sad and it almost made me cry. He's a great actor."
Pomers has similar accolades for the rest of the Voyager castmembers, all of whom treat her like a fellow professional. "Kate is a nice person and we've become sort of good friends. Garrett Wang [Ensign Harry Kim] is really cool and se are Bob Picardo and Robbie McNeill, Robert Beltran [Commander Chakotay] is hilarious. He'll do this weird thing with his eyelids where he turns them inside out. I haven't had many scenes yet with Roxann Dawson [Lieutenant B'Elanna Torres], so I'd like to work more with her. Tim Russ is wicked funny, too. He told me that in the script Padd [personal access display device] is spelt with two 'd's which means you have to say 'Pa-d-d,' when you're doing a scene," laughs the actress.
When she is not needed in front of the cameras, Pomers spends part of her day at Paramount Studios hitting the books. "They have a teacher on the set named Ruth Ann and I usually have classes for three hours a day in between my work on Voyager. I do home studies as well and I'll be attending a professional school that's just for child actors which will be four hours a day."
For her outstanding acting performances, Pomers has won four Young Artist Awards, one of which for her portrayal of Naomi Wildman, and has been chosen as the Best Non-Human Life Form by childstarlet.com. The actress has an official website and has made friends of all ages and professions through the mail as well as various Star Trek conventions.
"There's this soldier who's been writing to me and he works on an aircraft carrier called the USS Enterprise," she says. "He recently sent me a letter and a picture of his ship. Another day I got a drawing someone had done of me from one of my pictures on my website and taht was neat. There's this school in Long Island where the kids have been writing to me. When I went to New York to visit my relatives I went to their classroom to see them and they presented me with a Voyager game they'd made themselves.
"I get to meet tons of people at conventions. I've been to six so far and they're really great because I get to stay in hotels and go to the dealers' rooms to buy Sailor Moon stuff. The fans are so friendly to me and give me lots of really nice compliments about my work at Naomi."
Pomers was born on 28 November, 1988 and was named after the Gone With the Wind heroine. Her first television job was at the age of three when she appeared in the Michael Jackson music video Heal the World. The budding performer then began to get to work in numerous commercials and this was followed by guest spots in shows such as Touched by an Angel, Stept by Step, Seven Days and Martial Law. The actress's feature film credits include Mighty Joe Young, The Baby-Sitters Club, Slappy and the Stinkers, Life on Mars and voice-overs for Baby Geniuses and Con Air. She can also be seen in two upcoming films, Erin Brockovich and Happy, Texas.
The young starlet has already guest-starred on two sixth season Voyager episodes, Survival Instinct and Dragon's Teeth. She recently finished work on the ABC/Disney movie-of-the-week Geppetto starring Drew Carey, Seth Adams, Brent Spiner (Star Trek: The Next Generation's Lieutenant Commader Data) and Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Odo). "All of my scenes are with Rene, including his big dance number," notes Pomers. "He's a pretty cool person and we talked about Star Trek and lots of other things."
Pomers lives with her family and her dogs Elvis and Remington Steele in the Los Angeles area. In her free time, the actress enjoys singing, rollerblading, playing video games with her old brother Shane (also named after the popular film hero) and riding her horse, Salem. She would love to train horses when she gets older but has no intentions of giving up her acting career. "I definitely want to keep acting until I'm too old to do it," she states.