Minae Noji plays Dr. Kelly Lee on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital. Tonight at 11pm on SOAPnet, Noji can be seen on the new GH spin-off, Night Shift. The new, weekly primetime series focuses exclusively on the hospital aspect of the series (the first episode is titled “Frayed Anatomies”). The young actress took some time earlier this week to talk to BuddyTV about the new show, the hot and steamy scenes ahead for her character, and her experience doing voiceover work on the ’90s animated series Captain Planet.
Read the full interview transcript or listen to the mp3 audio below:
Hi, this is John from BuddyTV and I’m talking to General Hospital’s Minae Noji who plays Dr. Kelly Lee on the soap opera. How’re you doing this morning?
I’m doing great. Thank you. How are you?
I’m doing fine. So [tonight] is, on SoapNet, the premiere of General Hospital’s spin-off, Night Shift. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about the new project?
Yes. It’s a one-hour original primetime series. It takes place during the night shift at General Hospital and it basically goes deeper into the relationships and the friendships and all the medical cases that go on in the hospital. It’s definitely a little edgier and a little steamier, so and the cast is younger. So it’s a lot of fun to watch.
Yes and I’m just wondering, how will this affect the original General Hospital? Will you still be making appearances on both shows at the same time?
Yes, I’m doing both shows. What makes it a little bit tricky is some of the characters that are doing both, the characters are the same but the storylines are different. So for instance, if the character all of a sudden I don’t know, got her arm cut off on the show, on GH, the arm’s fine on Night Shift. So it’s a little confusing with respect to that but the characters are still the same.
That’s definitely an unusual twist on the idea of a spin-off, doing it at the same time.
What was your initial reaction? When did first hear about the idea of the spin-off and what were your thoughts on doing this kind of project?
I originally heard about it earlier this year. And I just heard that they were going for a primetime show to expand on the audience and to sort of really focus on the hospital, because it’s called General Hospital. And I guess a lot of storylines were also mafia related, so the fans wanted to see what was going on in the hospital. So I did hear about it earlier on but I had no idea until very close to our shooting, or our table read that I was actually involved in it. Because not all the cast went over to Night Shift. I just had no idea. But I was very flattered and happy in—they—I had a chance to be able to expand on my character which was cool.
Can you give our listeners any indications about what kind of—what’s in store for Dr. Kelly Lee?
I think a lot of it is confidential but I can say that I get into a little bit of trouble, and I also have a good amount of steamy scenes.
Yeah for my character. But there’s always consequence.
Yes. And I’m sure you can’t tell us with who but I know that earlier in the show that you were flirting with Dr. Patrick Drake and I was just wondering if we might see you try to rekindle a little romance with Dr. Drake.
Huh, well, Dr. Drake, I’m not so sure. We’ve only shot seven episodes but there are a lot of new cast members on Night Shift that are pretty hot and steamy as well, and I can’t say in particular who I get together with or what the situation’s like but I’m not complaining is all I’m saying, with all the hot men on the show, I’m a pretty lucky girl.
That’s good to hear.
There is one character called Dr. Archer who does have the hots for me but I cannot say what happens between us.
Ah. Good to know. You mentioned how a lot of the show is focusing more on like mafia storylines and stuff, are there any storylines or characters that you’ve seen on the show that you were kind of a little bit jealous that you weren’t involved in?
In GH, you mean?
You know because it’s so, you know, there’s so many things going on in the show. Obviously not everything happens in the hospital and that’s what makes GH pretty cool to watch because there is action, there is romance, there is emergencies in the hospital and there is love and all of that. So I would say I don’t feel that way at all. I’ve been excited though about expanding on my character which was what I was really looking forward to cause as a doctor, you focus on what’s going on in the hospital and on occasion we would go to the bar, we would hang out with the girls and we’d have a good time, but on the most part it was business related so Night Shift is a good mixture of both. You get what’s going on in the hospital but you also get much of what’s going on with each character’s lives on the personal note. That’s been really exciting for me.
Yes. You took over this role from another actress, Gwendoline Yeo, which frequently happens on soaps and I’m wondering how you come at a new role that’s already established by another actress.
Well this specific one, she hadn’t been on the show a long time, and I didn’t want to make it about encompassing her for the role. Because I know that we as actors, you know we show a bit of ourselves. So that’s what makes us unique. So I actually didn’t even think about how she played it. I sort of thought how I saw the role when I read it, how I felt when I read it, and what I wanted to bring into it. But I tend to sort of veer away from what was, because then I’ll end up mimicking the other person. And Gwendoline is a fabulous actress, I’ve seen her in other things, but we just have a completely different vibe, as far as how we work. The energy that comes off when we act so. I think I’m a little goofier than her.
OK. When I was doing research I was going through your IMDB profile, and I do have to ask, one of your earlier works were doing voice over work for the kids show Captain Planet?
What was that experience like?
What was very cool was there were a lot of celebrities on that specific cartoon. A lot of voiceover cartoon work we work all in the same room so you get to sit with other actors while you do your part. As a kid, it was a pretty good experience because acting behind the microphone is a totally different experience than actually acting in front of the camera. It was such a fun experience.
Yeah. And going off the other topic that…I suppose I just have one last question. Are they any upcoming projects that you have or what are your future plans outside of the world of Port Charles?
I have a couple of things, I just wrapped on a film called Jill and Brody, it’s a romantic comedy. I play the wife of the lead who was cheating on her husband to become a lesbian. So that was an interesting character and a lot fun as well, I’ve never played a lesbian before. So it was that and it will be coming out next year. And I’m continuing with my art work and doing things and donating to charities and trying to make a difference. That’s always been a part of my life. Keeping that alive.
What kinds of charities do you support?
Right now I’m actually looking into Parkinson’s. That’s a new one for me but some [?] I’ve been looking all over ways I can make a difference and that. But right now it’s basically Save the Children Make a Wish Foundation.
OK, well that sounds like great work and I wish you all the best on the new spin-off premiering [tonight].
Thank you so much, I appreciate it.
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of SOAPnet)