Create & Cultivate 100: Entertainment: Sandra Oh

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When Sandra Oh won her second Golden Globe earlier this month, we cried right along with her. Known best for her 10-year role as Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy, which she left in 2014, Sandra spent four years playing small roles in film and on stage until she was cast in Killing Eve, arguably one of the most talked-about shows of 2018 (it was already renewed for a second season). The role of Eve is undeniably perfect for Sandra: it’s a psychological thriller that showcases her range, but it also flips the script on stereotypical norms—much like Sandra herself has been doing in Hollywood for years.

Below, Sandra talks representation, her role in Killing Eve, and if she’d ever return to Grey’s Anatomy.

On playing one of the only Asian characters in mainstream TV for years…

Young Asian people who come up to me have a certain vibration, and I receive it, and I understand it, and I feel emotional just talking about it. I’m here for you. And I’ll continue doing everything I can to fill something that I know you need right now, that we don’t yet have as a community.

On when she knew Killing Eve was right for her...

As soon as I started reading it, what jumped off the page to me were a few things: the originality of its tone and the fact that I felt like I understood where Phoebe [Waller-Bridge, the show’s creator] was coming from immediately. The idea that it’s a psychological piece between these two women, about the female psyche, was so interesting to me. There’s tons of things that are interesting to me. I love spy stuff—who doesn’t? So to kind of upend that…because this character is not slick. I felt immediately like I could understand Eve. But the two biggest things were what I felt the piece was about, which was an investigation of the female psyche, and the originality of the voice and the tone of Phoebe.

In the books Killing Eve is based on, Eve is white. On filling that role...

Can I just tell you, it’s about f–king time! The character is not Asian, but there are a billion examples of the reverse where the source material or the character in the book was one ethnicity or another and no one blinks an eye when people change it to being a white actor. I really hope that there is more pressure and sensitivity and understanding around it. And that comes from the actors themselves. It really does. When you read the source material — oh, you know, this person, this character is first nations, maybe I shouldn’t play it, right? Hopefully actors are empowered to be able to just make that choice.

On the prospect of returning to Grey’s...

I’m just going to say no. I’m just going to put that down there because it’s been four years since then, and I’ve really got to try and create much more of that separation. Even though I could just talk on and on and on about that show and what I feel like I learned from it and continue learning from it. It was so special, lightning in a bottle that’s lasted for over a decade.

This interview has been edited and condensed from multiple sources (1, 2).
Photos from Sandra Oh’s Instagram.