Thursday, October 29, 2009

Interview: Ming-Na Goes From Oakdale to Outer Space

Stargate Universe, the third incarnation of the successful Stargate series, premiered to high ratings and rave reviews in October. Ming-Na (pictured, second from left) — who got her start in the biz by playing Lien Hughes on the daytime soap opera As the World Turns, then followed with starring roles in The Joy Luck Club and Mulan, and rounded out her resume with ER — co-stars on the outer-space adventure series playing the role of Camile Wray.

For those unfamiliar with Stargate, this particular series focuses on a group of soldiers, scientists and civilians who, while fleeing an attack, travel through a stargate and find themselves stranded far from Earth on a mammoth spaceship known as the Destiny.

Ming-Na explains what makes this series different from the others: “In SGU, it’s a whole new cast, although some of the originals do make appearances. It’s a different feel and vibe to the show. It’s more character-driven. I don’t want to say that it’s darker, because there are a lot of light scenes, but it definitely has a more serious tone. Also, we will not have rubber-suited aliens. We have these amazing CGI-ed aliens. Trust me — they look fantastic.”

Ming-Na is no stranger to science fiction. In fact, she has been a fangirl for much of her life. “I have been a sci-fi fan since I was very young,” she says. “I was president of the science-fiction club when I was in high school. It’s such a great genre.

“What I do as an actress is pretend, so a part of me never has to grow up. I love having kids because I get to continue to pretend with them. That is what is so great about sci-fi, and especially SGU. It encompasses such an intellectual world of science and physics, and it’s mooshed into something that is entertaining and creative.”

According to Ming-Na, her character, Camile, is a very complex character, which was a big reason she wanted to play her. “She starts off being someone you think is very by the book. As you get to know her, you feel like there is such a vulnerable side to her. She masks it with her ambition and her drive to prove something.

“She is also a lesbian. That is a real challenge, as I’ve never played a lesbian character before. It definitely adds a layer that is very unique to who she is and how she approaches her job and the men she has to work with. At the same time, it is not something that makes her vastly different — it is just a part of who she is.”

Ming-Na is excited to be working with such a talented group of actors. “I feel so privileged to get to work with this cast. With Robert Carlyle (Dr. Nicholas Rush), it’s just so fun to watch him work. And David Blue (Eli Wallace) is hilarious. A lot of the actors have theater training, so we all really believe in the ensemble and really respect it. It’s just a great environment to work in.”

Another great working experience for Ming-Na was the time she spent in the early ’90s on ATWT. She reveals: “I loved working on ATWT. That was so much fun and such a great experience. Prior to that, I was theater trained, so that was my first camera training, and I learned a lot from that.

“The weird thing is that on SGU, they want me to keep growing my hair longer — I guess they haven’t found a beauty salon yet on any of the planets we’ve visited — so I feel like I am going back to my Lien Hughes length of hair. I’ve actually been thinking of Lien a lot lately because if it. I don’t have those bangs though.”

You can catch Ming-Na on Stargate Universe on Friday nights at 9/8 CST on the SyFy channel. You can also catch up on episodes (if you have missed any) on