Minae Noji Checks into General Hospital... Twice!

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Minae Noji is one busy actress. Her time as Dr. Kelly Lee is currently split between daytime (General Hospital) and primetime (General Hospital: Night Shift).

Somehow, she found time for the following interview:

Soapdom: Are you a soap fan? If so, what is your favorite soap?
Minae Noji: I grew up watching General Hospital! It was part of my ritual when I got home from school. I would run home, quickly slap together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, grab my favorite blanket and plop myself down right in front of the TV. General Hospital had the best characters and storylines. And the cliff hangers each week always got me. I was addicted!

Soapdom: Please explain how you landed the role of Kelly Lee.
MN: Since I am a huge fan of General Hospital, I was elated when I heard that I got an audition for the role of Dr. Kelly Lee. The audition process was pretty intense. There were quite a few call backs. I remember the morning of the final audition. I felt really good and confident. That is until… I was sitting in the casting office, looked down at my feet and realized I was wearing two different shoes! One shoe was a black, strappy heel and the other was a silver sling back! I think in my rush to get ready that morning, I just wasn’t paying attention. I never did find out if the producers and casting director noticed!

Moral of the story…whenever you leave the house…always make sure you’re wearing matching shoes. And it may not hurt to double check on the underwear, too.

Soapdom: You’ve done movies and film. How does daytime compare?
MN: Working on General Hospital has been the most amazing and challenging experience. Since soaps air everyday, the shooting schedule is pretty intense. For example, on a typical day on a film set, we work through an average of 1-2 scenes per day. On daytime, we shoot 40-55 scenes in one day! That’s a big difference. This means that not only do we need to memorize our lines quickly, but we must do our scenes in one take.

Soapdom: Starring on two shows simultaneously is a ton of work. Are there any pitfalls?
MJ: Even though the characters are the same on both shows, the storylines are different. So, the most challenging thing is to remember which storyline and relationships are occurring on which show. Quite honestly, I’ve been having such a blast working on General Hospital and Night Shift. I’m having the time of my life!

Soapdom: How did they schedule the production of both shows?
MJ: They shoot GH Monday through Thursday and Night Shift works all day Friday.

Soapdom: Is production on Night Shift’s first 13 wrapped for now? If not, when?
MJ: Right now we are on episode 9. So we are almost there! We should be wrapped by the end of August. But I don’t want it to end….I want it to go on forever and ever!

Soapdom: Now down to the nitty gritty! Who are your favorite GH scene partners and why?

MJ: I LOVE Kimberly McCullough (Robin) and Kent King (Lainey). They are my favorite girls! I had the opportunity to really get to know these two women and I feel really blessed to have them in my life. Whenever the three of us do a scene together, we just laugh, joke and catch up on gossip the whole time! I really believe in girl bonding and I’m so glad that General Hospital has expanded our friendships on the show.

Soapdom: Who was the first actor you met on your first day of work? Did they make you feel welcome, or was it scary?
MJ: The first actor I met was Steve Burton (Jason Morgan). I was very nervous to work with him since I had a big crush on him. Steve reminds me of Superman. He is strong and sweet and saves people but has secrets…just like a real superhero! But when I finally met Steve on set, he was so warm and welcoming…all of my nerves melted away! I still fantasize about him saving me from a burning building, carrying me in his arms, with me screaming, “My hero!”

Soapdom: Tell us a little about the character of Dr. Kelly Lee.
MJ: Dr. Kelly Lee is the best gynecologist in the entire world! Okay, maybe not the world…but at least in all of Port Charles. She is smart, flirty, fun, sassy and has a good heart. Kelly has been single for a while now, but I know she would love to be in love and find the man of her dreams. She is afraid to love and be loved and she has a very big secret. You have to watch Night Shift to find out more!

Soapdom: Is Kelly at all like you personally? If so, how? If not, why not?
MJ: Kelly Lee is a lot like me in many ways. I can be pretty serious when it comes to work, but I also love to have fun with the girls! I’m a firm believer in women friendships. I’m also very protective of my heart and can relate to my character when it comes to love. However, there is no way I could drink as much as Kelly Lee does! She drinks like a truck driver!

After one drink, I stick to my Shirley Temples. And I am definitely much more of a wimp when it comes to blood than my character is. I get faint when I see a paper cut on my finger, let alone blood and incisions from a C-Section or a Hysterectomy!!! I’m getting nauseated right now just talking about it.

Soapdom: Have there been any funny or outlandish things that have happened on set so far?
MJ: I remember I was doing a very serious doctor scene on set once. I was conveying some bad news to a patient and during my lines I remember thinking to myself, “Is it cold in here or is it just me?” A few seconds later, I looked down at my legs and I realized that I was cold because the waist band of my pant scrubs got loose and fell to the floor and I was doing the scene in my underwear!

Soapdom: In your opinion, what are the major differences between General Hospital, and GH Night Shift?
MJ: Night Shift is definitely a bit edgier and steamier than General Hospital. And since it’s an episodic, there is less repeat of the storylines. Also, the NS cast is overall a younger group of people, so the energy feels different. There are a lot of new cast members on Night Shift that are pretty hot, so tune in and get ready to salivate!

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Hi Minae, So happy to see you on TV on General Hospital! Wish I could see you from here in Hong Kong, in the Asian Countries. You are so beautiful! Hope to see more of you on TV and on the BIG screen! Smiles,
Lisa Hsu
(you know who I am! :D)