Interview - Ming-Na, Stargate Universe

Interview - Ming-Na, Stargate Universe
In SyFy Channel‘s “Stargate Universe,” 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 she’s 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 here’s a woman that feels like she can compartmentalize her two worlds, her personal life and life in the workforce. And now it’s kind of meshed into where her life and her work is just on Destiny. So she’s had to let her hair down. She’s had to resort to tactics that she normally wouldn’t use and finding allies and making friends with people she normally probably wouldn’t make friends with, especially the military. She works alongside them but it’s 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 she’s comfortable in and familiar with. And now I think with season two it’s 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 can’t then I don’t think she’s capable of leading the civilians to adapt and have a better frame of mind. So I think that’s 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 it’s just probably her reality in achieving the level of success that she’s 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 man’s field and succeed in it is strong. But now, she’s also in a situation where, on Destiny, there are really no rules. You have to recreate the rules and the guidelines. And it’s 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, I’m really being a five-year-old kid pretending that I’m in outer space, and how great is that, to be doing it as an adult. And then two, just when it’s a dire life or death situation, that challenge is to really believe in that moment and selling it.”

Q. How do you think “Stargate Universe” adds depth to the “Stargate” franchise?

Ming-Na:
In a weird way, we are a show that stands on its own, in its style and in its storytelling. And that’s one thing that’s very different from the other “Stargates.” 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 it’s about, what is it for, what is the ultimate wisdom and reason for these Stargates. I think we’re 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 you’re 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 isn’t 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 didn’t know that much about the “Stargate” franchise.

Q. So it’s never dull?

Ming-Na:
I have to say that of all the shows I’ve done, this has been the most challenging role because, whether playing a gay character or someone who’s a quadriplegic and some of this other stuff we’re doing in season two, it’s 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 you’re looking for a show that has a lot of action and great writing and acting, even if you’re not a scifi fan, I think you would really enjoy “Stargate Universe” because it just has so much to offer. It’s got the love stories, it’s got the life and death situations. It’s got humor and just some really great characters to sing your teeth into. So I think for all those reasons. And it’s 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. That’s something that I always get a high from, so I think as an artist that’s very fulfilling. But also for me, working on a sci-fi show where I pretend that I’m in outer space--you don’t understand, I’m a “Star Wars” kid, you know? So to actually be able to say that I’m on a show where I’m billions of light years away is so satisfying. I don’t know if that’s the artist in me or just the kid in me, but yes, very happy about this ensemble work I’m doing.





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