Sandra Oh is a force to be reckoned with. For more than 20 years, fans have watched her career flourish over the years, including appearances in movies like The Princess Diaries, Sideways, Rabbit Hole and her Golden Globe Award–winning performance as Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy for 10 seasons. All her talent and hard work culminated in her place in history as the first actress of Asian descent to be nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (for Killing Eve in 2018). Her resumé is only going to be enhanced further in 2019 when she, alongside Andy Samberg, takes the reins as host of the Golden Globes. Love Sandra Oh and dying to find out more about her? You've come to the right place.
Her love of performing started during her time as a ballet dancer.
Oh's parents put her in ballet lessons at the age of 4, with the hopes of correcting her natural pigeon-toed gait. It set off a lifelong love of performing. By 10, she'd appeared in her first play, The Canada Goose, and by the age of 15, she'd started getting professional television, theatre, and commercial gigs.
She's an animation star.
She's not just an on-screen actress—Oh has leant her voice to several animated movies and shows, including Canadian adventure Snowtime!, animated sitcom American Dad, the children’s show Phineas and Ferb, and Mulan 2, amongst others.
Oh speaks Korean, French, and English. She picked up French while studying at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. Here's (opens in new tab) a video of her speaking the romance language.
She's got some opinions about being famous.
Oh works very hard to separate her work life from her personal life. She's not a fan of the fame game, and doesn't have any interest in broadcasting her personal life to the entire world.
"If you choose to step into that persona, I think it’s harder to get back to your base level to create from an authentic place. At least it did for me," she explained to Vulture (opens in new tab). She wants to, instead, focus on acting, rather than crafting an image for the public.“It takes a long time to free oneself from chatter—goals, social media, image, persona,” she continued, “and if you’re able to move through in that way, you can actually start trying to create from a different place.”
She's got a famous ex-husband.
Oh and two-time Academy Award–winning writer/director Alexander Payne dated for five years before marrying in 2003. Payne directed Oh's performance in Sideways. They announced their separation in 2005, and divorced in 2006.
Her parents disagreed with her decision to act.
Oh's father, Oh Junsu, is a businessman, and her mother, Oh Young-nam, is a biochemist who married in Seoul, South Korea. “I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t have a master’s in something,” Oh told Ellen DeGeneres in 2006. Oh also told Marie Claire (opens in new tab) that her parents "didn't see that there was any meaning to being an actor. It was like, 'What are you doing for society? Are you being a good Christian?' They were classic immigrants—they wanted their children to become doctors or lawyers." They've since come around to their daughter's acting career, and are regular mainstays alongside her on the red carpet.
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Amanda Mitchell is a writer and podcaster with bylines at Marie Claire, OprahMag, Allure, Byrdie, Stylecaster, Bon Appetit, and more. Her work exists at the apex of beauty, pop culture, and absurdity. A human Funfetti cake, she watches too much television, and her favorite season is awards season. You can read more of her work at amandaelizabethmitchell.com or follow her on Instagram and Twitter @lochnessmanda.
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