GateWorld: The original character breakdown for Camille kind of described her as having a false sense of superiority and importance to the other civilian and military population aboard Destiny. And also a stubborn way of asserting it. How would you say that has translated to the screen thus far?
Ming-Na: I don’t see her that way. I see her as a woman who is also gay, and needing to assert herself in a man’s world in order to succeed. And she’s just kind of used to that way of getting ahead. She’s very smart. That’s something I have in common with her! Yeah! Put that down! I’m smart! [Laughter]
For me, I justify everything she has to do to make sure her voice is heard and that her opinions are respected. And I think that can always be looked at as being the woman who’s the bossy bitch. Women in power will always get that bad rap. Even if they wear high heels with miniskirts and big hair. It just doesn’t matter. I think that will always be a double standard when it comes to women and power. And when it comes to the series, you’re able to see the softer side of her. You see that she doesn’t have a good relationship with her parents and [they are] not very supportive of her.
All those things, I think, make her feel like she’s constantly having to prove herself. So she sort of puts that chip on her shoulder, you know? And Destiny is actually giving her the chance to kind of let her hair down a little bit.
GW: Let’s talk about Season One for a bit. Wray seems intent on getting that civilian control of Destiny no matter what the cost throughout most of the season. So much so that with Rush — who she refuses to recognize any authority he may have — she turns around and allies herself with him in the episode “Divided,” with the introduction of the civilian coup.
MN: I think she felt Colonel Young could just completely go off the deep end at any point. They have the guns. They have the muscle. And they could report things back that aren’t necessarily the truth. She doesn’t know what he’s capable of. If he’s capable of killing someone — or almost killing someone, I should say — what else is he capable of?
She’s worried he is capable of a lot worse. History has proven that if anyone in the military goes crazy and takes control, bad things happen.
GW: And especially in the last couple episodes of the season, we see some of the choices he’s making and they may not be the smartest in terms of command decisions.
MN: Yeah! He really doesn’t work well under pressure. And you sort of start to figure that out. And for Camille, she figures her best chance of getting everyone home safely is by siding with Rush. He has the know-how on controlling the ship. Or the Stargate. So it’s very important for her to side with him.
GW: But there’s the Earth side, too. She goes home to Earth the first time, and she meets another I.O.A. person who seems like he’s the puppeteer pulling her strings, telling her the way things should be. What’s her motivation there? Is it as simple as career advancement?
MN: You know, I think in her mind … this is still very early on. So in her mind, Earth is still a very tangible reality. She has to maintain certain relationships and not screw things up. And this is a very big project, discovering Destiny. She could care less what they do with the ship. But if she’s able to give that ship over to the I.O.A., than yeah, she’s going to benefit quite a bit from it. She’s ambitious enough to want that. And there’s nothing wrong with that! What’s wrong with wanting something? [Laughter]
GW: Of course! Nothing! Even if it’s blind ambition! [Laughter]
MN: She still thinks they are going to get home — that someone is going to figure it out. She doesn’t care about the ship!
GW: In the episode “Life,” we discover that Wray is a lesbian. And it’s really the first time in the history of the franchise that it’s implicitly shown or stated that a character is homosexual. What are your feelings about how Brad [Wright], Rob [Cooper] and the writing team have handled that aspect of her character thus far?
MN: I think they’ve done a wonderful, thoughtful and respectful job so far.
GW: When the character breakdowns were made public, there were certain areas of the franchise’s fandom that found it to be fairly controversial. Initially, at least.
MN: To me, it was actually quite astounding. Because, you know, having been on ER, there were so many gay characters. And of course, Laura Innes’ character — Dr. Weaver — discovered she was gay. And she came out. So in my world, with TV series that have gay characters in it …
GW: I don’t see the ratio being as large, though, when it comes to genre series. The main exception, in terms of it being a well-thought out storytelling device, would be John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness on Torchwood. There just aren’t many others. Maybe a one-off. But not a recurring or starring role.
MN: What about Eric McCormick on Will and Grace?
GW: I’m speaking just in terms of genre series, though.
MN: Oh, yeah! In the sci-fi world — I was quite surprised in the 15 years of the franchise of Stargate, that they really didn’t even have a guest role that was gay. That was really surprising to me, because I didn’t follow any of the 15 years prior.
So, yes, it was surprising to me. But very timely. And I think Brad and Robert took a risk. And it was a good one. Everyone should be represented in some way in sci-fi. I mean, if we’re going to have aliens, can’t we have a couple of gay characters? [Laughter]
GW: I will say I’ve been very impressed by your performance in those regards. It plays to me as very honest in its representation and depiction.
MN: Well, thank you! That was the only thing that I worried a lot about. And I talked to a lot of my friends who are [gay]. Because for me, doing research about her character, I felt that she probably came out later in life. I just needed the character to be very dignified in that aspect of her life.
And not have that be the only thing about her — to not have every episode where she has a focus being about the fact that she is gay. That would be horrible. Because that’s not reality.
NEXT: Highlights from SGU‘s first year, and meeting the fans