By Shirley Hawkins
Fans who tune in to watch the ABC show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are thrilled by the daring stunts performed every week by the superheroes, but little do they know that behind the scenes, Los Angeles resident Ming Qiu is one of the stuntwomen fearlessly fighting the bad guys.
Qiu doubles for superheroine Ming Na-Wen who plays Maggie May, an ace pilot and weapons expert. Qiu says she loves working on the popular show that is avidly watched by fans, many of whom grew up reading Marvel comics.
“It’ great working on the show,” said Qiu, who joined the cast as a stuntwoman in July of this year. “Ming Na-Wen is very nice and easy to work with,” said Qiu of the popular series star. “They call her ‘Ming 1’ and they call me ‘Ming 2’ on the set.”
Qiu said that she is proud that the show has attracted such a large following of fans and that she was happy to hear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had been renewed for another season. “It’s a very busy show and we work very hard,” she pointed out. “Everyone works 13 to 16 hours a day.”
Fighting bad guys on the show is a weekly occurrence, so Qiu said that training for fight scenes requires intense practice. It’s not unusual for Qiu to slice swords through the air, crash through windows or land deadly blows on her opponent. Making sure the fight scenes look authentic is a top priority. “We rehearse and choreograph the action at the studio before the shooting day,” said Qiu.
The stuntwoman, who specializes in the ancient Chinese martial art form Wushu, has showcased her lightning quick moves in such movies as Transformers: Age of Extinction; Mission, Impossible III, Diehard 4, Battleship, Kill Bill, Sucker Punch, Zombieland and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and G. I. Joe, Retaliation. Her numerous television credits include NCIS: Los Angeles and Law and Order: L.A. he has appeared in numerous television series and over 40 big screen blockbusters.
Qiu often uses stick, knives and swords to perform her stunts, and she frequently performs on high wires that can rise as high as fifty feet in the air.
The stuntwoman, who trained as a martial artist in her native China and is the daughter of professional gymnasts, emigrated from Nanjing to the United States in 1995. “Not many people were doing Wushu when I first came here,” she recalls. “I was one of the few people to bring Wushu to the United States.” As a master of Wushu, Qiu is proficient in six different types of the art. “Wushu is like a combination of boxing and ballet,” explained Qiu. “It’s tough and graceful at the same time.”
“I might have to fight four or five guys at a time on the show, but the big stunts are pretty safe because we do rigorous rehearsals,” said Qiu.
Qiu’s lightning quick moves as a martial artist are well known throughout the Hollywood stunt community. She was named “Woman of the Year” by Inside Kung Fu magazine, was honored with Black Belt magazine’s “Competitor of the Year” and received the Taurus World Stunt Award for “Best Aerial Work.” In 2010, she was honored by the Diamond in the Raw foundation for her work as a stuntwoman.
Qiu said that despite the danger of performing stunt work, she loves her job. “It’s like being a doctor. If you save a life, you feel so good. When you see your work on the screen, you are so proud. You get to travel the world and meet new people. When the director yells ‘Cut! That’s awesome! Let’s move on!’ It makes me feel good.”