In taking on the role of International Oversight Committee (IOA) officer aboard the Destiny in SyFy’s Stargate Universe, actress Ming-Na is exploring perhaps even more uncharted territory than her character, Camile Wray. Stargate‘s Camille is the first Asian American lesbian on a primetime broadcast or basic cable show, and one of only a few Asian American lesbian or bisexual characters ever on primetime American TV. She’s also the Stargate franchise’s first lesbian character.
The actress, who began her career on a soap opera (As the World Turns) before getting her big break in The Joy Luck Club (1993) and going on to star in ER (from 1995 to 2004), has embraced her role in the Stargate universe, where soldiers and scientists interact with alien races while aboard an ancient ship locked on an unknown course and unable to return to Earth.
AfterEllen.com recently spoke to Ming-Na about the show and this week’s episode, "Life," in which we meet Camile’s partner Sharon (played by Reiko Aylesworth) and see more of their relationship, including a kiss.
AfterEllen.com: Congratulations on the success of the series.
Ming-Na: Thank you so much! It’s been a lot of fun, and very exciting that we’re finding our audience.
AE: I guess by now you’ve heard that you’re playing the first Asian American lesbian series regular on a broadcast or cable television show. Did you know that when you took on the role?
MN: (laughs) No, I had no idea that I would be bestowed with the honor of being the first at something, so it’s quite special.
AE: You’ve had such a long and varied career, it’s surprising that you haven’t played a lesbian until now. Although I guess some people might have wondered about Mulan. She was quite the tomboy.
MN: (laughs) Well, she was cross-dressing. That’s a whole different area.
You know when I signed on, she [Camile] was still a character in development, and I was really basing it on a conversation with [series creator] Robert Cooper about where they were envisioning the character, because in the beginning, in the pilot especially, she wasn’t very clearly defined. I think the whole aspect of her being gay was an inspiration on their part.
I don’t know, maybe they were thinking about it all along, but when it was presented to me I felt it was a new challenge as an actor. I’ve never played a lesbian before and I thought it was very fitting for her character.