• Industry

Sandra Oh – A Trailblazer Turns 50

Sandra Miju Oh has every reason to celebrate. The daughter of Korean immigrants, who was born and raised in Nepean, a suburb of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, she is at the height of her career that began when she beat out over 1,000 others for her first TV appearance. A career that took her from drama school to the stage and ultimately to Hollywood, where she got noticed in Alexander Payne’s Sideways and became a weekly fixture on the world’s television screens as the brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Cristina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy.

One of the most moving moments of television history was made in 2019 when Sandra Oh thanked her Korean-born parents at the Golden Globes. The two-time Golden Globe winner – she won Best Supporting Actress in a TV drama for Grey’s Anatomy in 2006 and Best Actress in a Leading Role for Killing Eve in 2018 – Oh is the first actor of Asian descent to win multiple awards and the first to host the Golden Globes, which she did the same year she secured her second prize.


“The real reality of Asian parents of a certain generation, and the expectations that we have put upon us as children and how to make it in their eyes, there’s a bunch of ways that I hit that,” she told us a year later. “If I could go from, say, 1994, where I am the star of this television film, to then the Golden Globes of 2019, where I am able to publicly thank them, I feel like I have been able to go as far as I have as an artist because ultimately, I was very lucky to have parents who do accept me.”

A few fun facts about her: she started dancing at the age of four and acting at ten. She is fluent in Korean, English, French and Spanish. Her first Globe was presented to her by Teri Hatcher, who, in turn, had received her SAG award a year earlier from then-presenter Oh. She loves traveling, especially to Barcelona. And she can cook the complicated Korean dish Dduk Guk, that she calls “comfort food.”

Interestingly – although maybe not so surprisingly, considering how hard women, and especially women of color, still have to fight for recognition – she described at the HFPA’s “Women Breaking Barriers” panel at Sundance how even late in her career she was sure that she had not made it: it was not until she read the pilot script for her hit series Killing Eve that she realized she did not have to play a receptionist or doctor (again) but was being offered the title role. Since then, her accomplishments have landed her on the cover of TIME as one of the magazine’s Most Influential Women, along with several other accolades and a say behind the camera as a producer.


To many, her career seems linear and steady, as if she had put a plan in motion early on in her life. Not so, she says: “I love that you think that I have a plan!” she once laughed. The one thing she was always sure of was her love for her craft, and that there is nothing that comes close to acting in her heart. It is important to her to advance female-driven content in every project she accepts, as well as making sure that Asian representation on the screen is not clichéd. She called winning the Golden Globe “one of the best moments of my life.” May there be many more. Happy birthday, Sandra Oh.