By Christopher DiRaddo
Sandra Oh surprised no one by going home with two highly coveted awards this past January. In the span of two weeks
we saw Oh take to the stage twice, once for a Golden Globe and again for a Screen Actors Guild Award, both bestowed upon her for her work
as a supporting actress on the ABC drama series, Grey’s Anatomy.
During her acceptance speech for the SAG Award, Oh made sure to address her fellow Asian-American actors out there,
encouraging them to “keep on shining”...
How did these awards make the NTS Acting alumnus feel? “Elated,” says Oh from the set of her hit TV show. “It’s very
difficult to describe. You keep your head to the ground the way that I learned, you do your work, it’s all that you concentrate on and
suddenly you have to walk up on stage for an award.” The SAG Award holds a special place for Oh because it is from her peers. “It
was such an amazing high.”
Born in Ottawa, Sandra Oh graduated from the National Theatre School in 1993. That year, the Korean-Canadian landed three great roles that
jump-started her career. She played the main characters in the Canadian films Double Happiness (for which she won the Genie for Best Actress),
The Diary of Evelyn Lau and Adrienne Clarkson Presents, in which she played the former Governor General. Shortly afterwards, Oh moved to LA
and has since gone on to play numerous memorable roles in both film and television. Among her many credits are Sideways, Under the Tuscan Sun,
The Red Violin, Arli$$, and Six Feet Under.
During her acceptance speech for the SAG Award, Oh made sure to address her fellow Asian-American actors out there, encouraging them to
“keep on shining” and drawing public attention to the difficulties faced by Asian-Americans who wish to pursue an acting career.
“It’s still very difficult,” says Oh. “Just because there is one person getting recognition there are still thousands
and thousands that can’t get a speaking role. There are so many others who struggle. It can be so isolating and such a difficult task
to keep on fighting. I just wanted, at that moment, to share it with my fellow actors because it is very rare that we’ve been able to
access such a glorious position. You’ve got to share it. You have to support each other because no one else will.”
Oh is very proud of her show Grey’s Anatomy and its colour-blind casting. “I think one of the great things about the show is
that we don’t deal with the characters in a racial way, we deal with the characters as characters, as you do in real life.”
On the show, Oh plays Dr. Cristina Yang, a ruth-less surgery intern. One of the most surpris-ing things that happened to her when she was
first cast in the role was that people asked her how she felt playing a cultural stereotype.
“There haven’t been a lot of prominent Asian roles out there, so as soon as you play anyone who is smart, ambitious, and a doctor,
people think it’s a stereotype.”
Oh also recently became the voice of OnStar, an in-vehicle safety and security system that comes with most GM cars. Her audition for it
was the morning after she won the Gold-en Globe Award and, despite being a little groggy that day, she nailed it. Oh says her vo-cal training
really helped her to open up her voice when it was time for her to lay down the tracks.
“I’m so happy I went to the School because it gave me such a firm foundation,” says Oh, who is pleasantly surprised to
find that she still draws from her NTS training. “The biggest thing that I learned was how to learn… I actually find it quite amazing
that the pennies are still dropping.”
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