In SyFy ChannelĎs ďStargate Universe,Ē Ming-Na plays Camile Wray, a member of the International Oversight Committee stranded with the rest of the Destiny crew members on the other side of the stargate. In advance of the second season of the show, which began Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010, she spoke with journalists in a press conference call about her role and about the series.
Q. Can you talk about what kind of challenges your role offers you? What do you find interesting about Camile?
Ming-Na: Wow, I think Camile is interesting because she starts off someone who really wanted to maintain the status quo of what she was used to on Earth and on Icarus Space. And sheís had to really learn to throw that book away and be more instinctual and think more on her feet. So for me, I find it fascinating that hereís a woman that feels like she can compartmentalize her two worlds, her personal life and life in the workforce. And now itís kind of meshed into where her life and her work is just on Destiny. So sheís had to let her hair down. Sheís had to resort to tactics that she normally wouldnít use and finding allies and making friends with people she normally probably wouldnít make friends with, especially the military. She works alongside them but itís interesting how those challenges have been brought to light with the character.
Q. Can you discuss where Camile is emotionally as you return for the second season?
Ming-Na: For Camile, she has to come to terms with her situation. I think for season one her ultimate goal was to get everybody back home, including herself--back to Earth and back to a world that sheís comfortable in and familiar with. And now I think with season two itís the realization that perhaps there is something else that is going to take over as the more important mission in her life, and to just start moving forward and embracing that as her world for a whole. Because if she canít then I donít think sheís capable of leading the civilians to adapt and have a better frame of mind. So I think thatís going to be a new change for a lot of the characters for season two, having this mission that they feel genuinely will help Earth and protect Earth from an Alutien Alliance attack.
Q. She is a strong female character. Can you explain what it is about her that makes her that way?
Ming-Na: In the beginning, she comes off as someone who really wants to muscle her way into situations or have her voice heard. And I think itís just probably her reality in achieving the level of success that sheís had in the IOA and going by the books and doing all the right things and being the right diplomat in all the situations. So in that sense, I think any woman who has to play in a manís field and succeed in it is strong. But now, sheís also in a situation where, on Destiny, there are really no rules. You have to recreate the rules and the guidelines. And itís tribal. In a way we--not just the actors, but the crew aboard Destiny, has to become tribal and learn to live with each other and work with each other. In that sense, she has to force herself to take that leadership role in guiding or helping the civilians. And the warmth--for her to bring out another side of herself, which is to care. She cares about the people. And actually, to show it is also a part of her strength, to be able to be more herself.
Q. What is it like acting against a green screen?
Ming-Na: I always feel like there are two things I feel. One is, wow, Iím really being a five-year-old kid pretending that Iím in outer space, and how great is that, to be doing it as an adult. And then two, just when itís a dire life or death situation, that challenge is to really believe in that moment and selling it.Ē
Q. How do you think ďStargate UniverseĒ adds depth to the ďStargateĒ franchise?
Ming-Na: In a weird way, we are a show that stands on its own, in its style and in its storytelling. And thatís one thing thatís very different from the other ďStargates.Ē But I think it pushes the envelope so much more. I mean, our show is quite serious and dramatic in a really dark way. I think it moves in a whole other direction, but for the better, in its storytelling and furthering the whole idea of what--who--created the Stargate, what itís about, what is it for, what is the ultimate wisdom and reason for these Stargates. I think weíre still searching for that answer.
Q. What was it like stepping into an established franchise like this?
Ming-Na: I was just thankful to be coming into a show that was such a well-oiled machine. A lot of times when youíre starting a new show there are many bumps and hiccups and chaos in everything--figuring things out and what goes where and who does what. I think that when there isnít that panic or frantic energy, it just gave us all a chance, as the actors, to come together and be relaxed and have fun and really figure out the tone and the feel. The focus was very different. So I really appreciated that coming into the franchise because I didnít know that much about the ďStargateĒ franchise.
Q. So itís never dull?
Ming-Na: I have to say that of all the shows Iíve done, this has been the most challenging role because, whether playing a gay character or someone whoís a quadriplegic and some of this other stuff weíre doing in season two, itís great for an actor to be challenged this way.
Q. Why should people who have never seen the show tune in?
Ming-Na: Because if youíre looking for a show that has a lot of action and great writing and acting, even if youíre not a scifi fan, I think you would really enjoy ďStargate UniverseĒ because it just has so much to offer. Itís got the love stories, itís got the life and death situations. Itís got humor and just some really great characters to sing your teeth into. So I think for all those reasons. And itís just a great-looking show.
Q. You have a lot of experience in the entertainment industry. Ultimately, what medium do you prefer to work in?
Ming-Na: I love theater and sitcoms because I get immediate feedback from the audience. Thatís something that I always get a high from, so I think as an artist thatís very fulfilling. But also for me, working on a sci-fi show where I pretend that Iím in outer space--you donít understand, Iím a ďStar WarsĒ kid, you know? So to actually be able to say that Iím on a show where Iím billions of light years away is so satisfying. I donít know if thatís the artist in me or just the kid in me, but yes, very happy about this ensemble work Iím doing.