The Interview with a Ninja Warrior
by Bless Montajes
You may know her as Dr. Kelly Lee on ABC’s General Hospital, but the lovely Minae Noji becomes a ninja warrior in the upcoming movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Minae’s character, Karai, is part of the Foot Clan Ninja Organization and rival to the Ninja Turtles. Reminiscing on those cowabunga days? Then catch Minae in the new TMNT movie which comes out August 8th and be prepared for a fun-filled and thrilling movie!
Celebrating the launch of this new film, I was able to interview Minae on her journey as an actress and the exciting moments on the TMNT set! To follow Minae, you can check out her website at Minae Noji
Bitmap: How did you get involved in Acting?
Minae: I started dancing at 3 years old, became a singer at 11, so acting was sort of a natural next step. I am attracted to all art forms that allow me to tell stories. The first time I truly decided to become an actress was when I was cast in the Broadway musical Miss Saigon. The ensemble consisted of many Asian actors and it was the first time I was surrounded by so many talented artists who looked like me. It was truly inspirational.
Bitmap: How long have you been an actress? From where did you get started?
Minae: Since I was a wee little thing, I imagined my life as a movie. I pretended a camera was with me at all times, documenting my life. In order to make my “film” interesting, every day I would make sure to perform fascinating activities, or hold intriguing conversations with odd humans, adorable animals or stoic Barbie dolls. It was a colorful childhood. So I guess you could say, I’ve been an actress my entire life. My movie was titled ‘My Name is Minae and I like Pants”. And yes, even as an adult…I still like pants.
Bitmap: Which has been your most challenging role that you've done and why?
Minae: I played Port Charles’ top notch Gynecologist on the TV show General Hospital for many years. On soaps, we shoot so many scenes a day; we only get one take to nail it, which can be a challenge on its own. But add the medical jargon, hitting your marks, cheating to camera, finding your light and acting all at the same time, and you feel like your innards might explode and burst out of your body. I know, not sexy. On top of that, my character, Dr. Kelly Lee, experienced a lot of emergency C-Sections and bloody babies and unfortunately, I have a horrible fear of blood and get faint at the sight of it. I had to constantly remind myself that the blood was actually strawberry jelly. Delish.
Bitmap: What is this movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, about?
Minae: Oh man, I’m such a fan of TMNT, so my answer to this question can go on forever. But the Cliff Notes version of this would be: On the surface, it looks like it would be about four mutant ninja turtles and a rat, running around a city and fighting crime. But really, it’s so much more than that. It’s about brotherhood, love, laughter, acceptance… and kicking ass. J What I love about the franchise is each character in TMNT represents different traits that live within all of us. We can all relate to them and I think that is what makes TMNT so special.
Bitmap: What character do you play and what is her role in the movie?
Minae: I play the baddie, Karai, who is second-in-command to The Shredder. She is in charge of the Foot Clan and she is spicy and tough.
Bitmap: What’s the one thing that attracted you to the role?
Minae: I grew up watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and reading the comics, so I was already familiar with the character Karai. So getting the opportunity to play her was a dream come true. I remember the moment when I walked on set into the Turtle’s lair, my heart fluttered and I felt like I was home.
Bitmap: Were there any preparations that you took in order to do this role and what were they?
Minae: I worked with the incredible fight choreography Team 87 Eleven and I also had gun training. The action sequences on this movie are amazing! I’ve never seen anything like it. You’re going to leave the theatre doing Kung Fu kicks in the air and yelling Cowabunga!!!
Bitmap: Are you and your character alike in anyway? Why & why not?
Minae: Karai is a sassy, kick-ass warrior who deep inside just wants to make The Shredder proud and will do anything to fight for what she believes in. I definitely have the sassy thing down and I like to think of myself as kick-ass, except when it comes to spiders and penguins. I am deathly afraid of those two things. Where we’re different? Karai can use a gun like nobody’s business and she’s quite proficient with the turret. I’d rather stick to my Super Soaker.
Bitmap: What is the funniest moment that happened on set of the TMNT movie?
Minae: I don’t know if this was the funniest moment, but it was certainly the most awkward. I love the Turtles. And I love how large and manly they are in this movie…particularly Raphael. Because he is the biggest turtle in the movie, he has the biggest shell. It’s very, very, big…and I made it a point to go up to Alan Ritchson (Raphael) and tell him so. I said, “Alan, you have a really large shell. It’s really large and I like it.” I then realized, I sounded like I was talking about “something else”. It was an awkward moment and I haven’t lived it down.
Bitmap: What did you love most about working on the new TMNT movie?
Minae: This is such a tough question because I enjoyed every minute of it. I truly in my heart had the best time of my life. I mean…..I got to live in the world of TMNT! It still makes me dizzy thinking about it.
Feature: Minae Noji
Make Up: Alicia Wheeler
Stylist: Sarah Chorley
Photographer: Isaac Alvarez