Ming-Na Wen
Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May in ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Kurt Iswarienkio/ABC)

Ming-Na Wen loves showing May’s humanity

Ming-Na Wen loves being a badass, so playing Melinda May in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is apparently the perfect job for her.

“I go to work every day just relishing it,” she told me during a short chat in January. “It’s like the ultimate geek girl high. I’m such a dork and to just go to work and be this total badass is awesome. You can’t ask for more.”

The actress talked about the second half of Season 3 during an ABC party at the TV Critics Association winter tour in Pasadena, Calif. Below is an edited transcript.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns at 9/8c March 8 on ABC.

Ming-Na Wen
Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May in ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (ABC photo)

Agent May has had more drama than usual in the first part of Season 3. What’s coming up for her?

I can’t tell you much. But one of the things that I’ve really loved about Season 3 is that it keeps tapping into her humanity and it keeps tapping into her trying to be more in touch with her feelings rather than compartmentalizing it. Hopefully it doesn’t affect her ability to do her job or make the right decisions. Because I think that’s one of the detriments is that if her emotions are involved, and we’ve seen that happening with Coulson, when emotions are involved, sometimes as an agent you really can’t do your best job.


Well, and that’s why previously she was closed off, right?

I think previously because she was sort of the wounded soldier she had to close it off in order to just function as a human being. But then that actually helped her to be an even better agent because she was able to compartmentalize her emotions so she was able to think very clearly.


Are those compartments breaking down now?

Yeah, her ex-husband is involved. Now he’s out again and he’s an inhuman. That kind of stuff can mess you up, man. It’s like she picks all the wrong men. The other dude became HYDRA.


I’m sure she gets pissed when somebody can beat her in a physical contest?

I think so. But you know, it’s unfair because these are inhumans. They have special powers. It’s not fair.


Everybody in S.H.I.E.L.D. thinks Ward is dead. How will that revelation change things?

His character is going to be a shocker. Well, Ward is dead, isn’t he? So it’s going to be interesting to see who takes over that lovely face.


There has been a lot of fighting within the team. Will everyone finally get along? 

I think the team is still a little fractured because everybody’s wounded in some way, altered in some way on an emotional level as well as a physical level and nothing is black and white anymore. There isn’t like level seven, level eight—it’s just like everything is pretty much in the mosh pit.


So personal stuff, everything else is great?

Everything else is great. I’m writing a lifestyle book on how to be immortal. I’m just kidding.


How to kick ass and have it all?

That’s right. 


Update: Ming-Na Wen explains the book via Twitter.

It’s a lifestyle book offering my tips to staying healthy, looking younger and feeling more joy and vitality. This book is inspired by my fans and friends who want to know what I’m doing to keep my youthful looks. My belief is all this can be achieved with what I’m calling my WenEver Ways. No matter how busy your life is or how you feel and look, WenEver Ways works because they adapt and fit into your particular lifestyle. I’ll also share my favorite recipes. I’m hoping to inspire women and men to get more fit, be happier and living life to the fullest while looking younger. I’m excited with this new venture.


When do you find a time to do that?

I don’t know, I just try. I carve out wherever I can. I found really good methods to help me write: index cards. That’s my trick. Like whenever I come up with a thought or an idea I just quickly jot it down. I hate electronics for that. I like paper. And you know what’s so great about index cards? You can jigsaw puzzle them around.


How’s it going?

You know writing is hard. It really is. That’s why I admire our writers so much. This constant need to come up with something else great or something else more amazing, something else more shocking and make it all make sense, too.


Related: Brett Dalton on the new Grant Ward
Related: Luke Mitchell on Lincoln’s future
Ming-Na Wen
Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May in ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (Kurt Iswarienkio/ABC)
At ABC Go: Ming-Na Wen bio