Sandra Miju Oh (born July 20, 1971) is a Canadian actress known for her role as Cristina Yang on ABC's medical drama Grey's Anatomy, a role that earned her a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards, and five nominations for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.
She has also played notable roles in the feature films The Princess Diaries, Under the Tuscan Sun, Last Night, Sideways, and had a supporting role on the HBO original series Arliss. Other films she has appeared in include The Night Listener, Sorry, Haters, Blindness, Bean, Wilby Wonderful, Hard Candy, and Rabbit Hole.
She starred in the Asian Canadian films Double Happiness, The Diary of Evelyn Lau, and Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity the formers of which won her the Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and the Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series respectively.
Oh was born on July 20, 1971, in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, to middle-class Korean immigrant parents Oh Junsu (John) and Oh Young-nam, who had moved to Canada in the early 1960s. Her father is a businessman and her mother a biochemist.
Oh has a brother, Ray, and a sister, Grace. She grew up in a devout Christian household, living on Camwood Crescent in Nepean, where she began acting and ballet at an early age.
Growing up, Oh was one of the few youths of Asian descent in Nepean.
At the age of 10, she played The Wizard of Woe in a class musical, The Canada Goose.
Later, at Sir Robert Borden High School, she founded the Environmental club BASE (Borden Active Students for the Environment), leading a campaign against the use of styrofoam cups. While at Sir Robert Borden High School, she was Student Council President. She also played the flute and continued both her ballet training and acting studies; however, she knew that she "was not good enough to be a professional dancer" and eventually focused solely on acting. This interest led her to take drama classes, act in school plays, and join the drama club where she took part in the Canadian Improv Games and Skit Row High, a comedy group. Against her parents' advice, she rejected a four-year journalism scholarship to Carleton University to study drama at the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal, paying her own way.
She told her parents that she would try acting for a few years, and if that failed, return to school. Reflecting on forgoing university, Oh said: "I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t have a master's in something."
Soon after graduating from the National Theatre School in 1993, she starred in a London, Ontario stage production of David Mamet's Oleanna. Around the same time, she won roles in biographical TV films of two significant female Chinese-Canadians: as Vancouver author Evelyn Lau in The Diary of Evelyn Lau (Oh won the role over more than 1,000 others who auditioned); and as Adrienne Clarkson in a CBC biopic of Clarkson's life.
1994–2004: Early work
Oh came to prominence in Canada for her lead performance in the Canadian film Double Happiness (1994), playing Jade Li, a twenty-something Chinese Canadian woman negotiating her wishes and those of her parents. The film received critical acclaim, with Roger Ebert praising Oh's "warm performance." Janet Maslin of The New York Times also praised her performance, saying: "Ms. Oh's performance makes Jade a smart, spiky heroine you won't soon forget." Oh won the Genie Award for Best Actress for the role.
In 1997 she appeared in the film Bean playing the supporting role of Bernice, the art gallery PR manager. Her other Canadian films include Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity and Last Night, for which she again won a Best Actress Genie. Oh was cast in the drama Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000), playing a stripper at an adult dance club opposite Daryl Hannah. The film received middling reviews from critics, though Oh was praised for her performance, with The New York Times saying "Oh make[s] the most of [her] opportunity to explore the vulnerability below [her] characters' hard-edged surface." The same year, she appeared in the drama Waking the Dead. In 2002, Oh appeared in the family comedy Big Fat Liar, followed by a minor role in Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal (2002).
Oh received critical acclaim for her six seasons as Rita Wu, the assistant to the president of a major sports agency, on the HBO series Arliss. She received an NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and a Cable Ace award for Best Actress in a Comedy for her work on Arliss. In theatre, Oh has also starred in the world premieres of Jessica Hagedorn's Dogeaters at the La Jolla Playhouse and Diana Son's Stop Kiss at Joseph Papp's Public Theater in New York City. She made several guest appearances on the series Popular (1999) playing a humanities teacher. She also guest starred in the television series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Judging Amy, Six Feet Under and Odd Job Jack.
In 2003, she was cast in a supporting role opposite Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun, followed by a supporting role in Alexander Payne's drama Sideways (2004). She considers Sideways to be one of the two best movies she has made, along with Evelyn Lau.
2005–14: Grey's Anatomy
In 2005, Oh appeared in several films, including David Slade's controversial thriller Hard Candy, and the independent anthology drama 3 Needles (2005), opposite Chloë Sevigny and Olympia Dukakis, in which she plays a Catholic nun in an AIDS-stricken African village. The same year, Oh was cast on the hit ABC medical series Grey's Anatomy as Cristina Yang. Oh's long-running role on the show earned her both a 2005 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Series and a 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series. In July 2009, she received her fifth consecutive Emmy nomination for her work on the series. In August 2013, Oh announced that the program's tenth season would be her final season.
Aside from her work on Grey's Anatomy, Oh continued to appear in films. She costarred in the thriller The Night Listener (2006), alongside Robin Williams and Toni Collette; in the superhero comedy Defendor (2009); Ramona and Beezus (2010); and the critically acclaimed drama Rabbit Hole (2010), opposite Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. In her only audiobook, she played Brigid O'Shaughnessy in a Grammy-nominated dramatization of The Maltese Falcon (2008), which also featured Michael Madsen and Edward Herrmann. She also has done a few voice roles in animation, including a few guest appearances in American Dragon: Jake Long, the voice of Princess Ting-Ting in Mulan II and the voice of Doofah in The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends.
Oh was host of the 28th Genie Awards on March 3, 2008. In 2009, Oh performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. During the off season hiatus from filming Grey's Anatomy in 2010, Sandra Oh took the part of Sarah Chen in the British crime drama Thorne. She took intensive dialect coaching in order to play her British character.
On June 28, 2011, it was announced that Oh would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame; she was inducted on October 1 at Elgin Theatre in Toronto. In 2013, Oh formally announced that she would be leaving Grey's Anatomy. Oh made her last appearance as Cristina Yang, exiting the series, with the season 10 finale.
2013–present: Further film projects
In October 2014, Oh announced that she would be teaming up with Canadian director Ann Marie Fleming to collaborate on an animated feature film titled Window Horses. She also appeared in a supporting role in the comedy film Tammy (2014), playing the wife of Kathy Bates.
In 2015, she starred on the Refinery29 comedy web series Shitty Boyfriends. Oh began filming an upcoming comedy film, Catfight (2016), in New York City in December 2015.
Oh was in a relationship with filmmaker Alexander Payne for five years. They married on January 1, 2003, separated in early 2005, and divorced in late 2006. On July 8, 2013, Sandra Oh received the key to the City of Ottawa, Ontario, from Mayor Jim Watson.
|1989||The Journey Home||Short film|
|1994||Double Happiness||Jade Li|
|1995||Prey||Il Bae||Short film|
|1996||Cowgirl||Sarah Hwang||Short film|
|1997||Bad Day on the Block|
|1998||The Red Violin||Madame Ming|
|2000||Waking the Dead||Kim|
|2000||Dancing at the Blue Iguana||Jasmine Bulut|
|2000||Three Lives of Kate||Narrator||Short film|
|2001||The Princess Diaries||Vice Principal Gupta|
|2001||Date Squad||Alpha Baby||Short film|
|2001||The Frank Truth||Herself||Documentary|
|2002||Big Fat Liar||Mrs. Phyllis Caldwell|
|2002||Full Frontal||Fourth Fired Employee|
|2002||Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity||Kin Ho Lum|
|2002||Barrier Device||Audrey||Short film|
|2003||Under the Tuscan Sun||Patti|
|2003||Owning Mahowny||Craps Player||Uncredited|
|2004||Wilby Wonderful||Carol French|
|2004||Mulan II||Ting Ting||Voice role|
|2004||8 Minutes to Love||Joy||Short film|
|2005||Hard Candy||Judy Tokuda|
|2005||Break a Leg||Young Turk|
|2005||Sorry, Haters||Phyllis MacIntyre|
|2005||Kind of a Blur||Joe|
|2006||The Night Listener||Anna|
|2006||For Your Consideration||Marketing Person|
|2007||The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends||Doofah||Voice role|
|2008||Blindness||Minister of Health|
|2009||The People Speak||Herself||Documentary|
|2010||Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey||Gal 2000|
|2010||Ramona and Beezus||Mrs. Meacham|
|2015||The Scarecrow||Evelyn||Short film|
|2016||Window Horses||Rosie Ming||Voice role, producer|
|1989||Denim Blues||Gwen||Television series|
|1992||Degrassi High: School's Out||Waitress||Uncredited|
|1994||The Diary of Evelyn Lau||Evelyn Lau||Television film|
|1995||If Not for You||Episodes: "Taking a Shower with My Two True Loves", "The Kiss"|
|1995||Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years||Ming Li||Episode: "Badlands"|
|1995||Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling||Officer Angela Lum||Television film|
|1996||Kung Fu: The Legend Continues||Mai Chi||Episode: "The First Temple"|
|1996–2002||Arliss||Rita Wu||Main role
|1999||Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child||Breadcrumb||Voice role
Episode: "The Three Little Pigs"
|2000||Popular||Humanities Teacher||Episodes: "Mo' Menace, Mo' Problems", "Under Siege"|
|2001||Further Tales of the City||Bambi Kanetaka||Television miniseries|
|2001||Six Feet Under||Porn Starlet||Episode: "An Open Book"|
|2001||Judging Amy||Detective Shelly Tran||3 episodes|
|2001–02||The Proud Family||Marsha Mitsubishi||5 episodes|
|2005, 2009, 2010, 2013||American Dad!||Katie / Hiko Yoshida||Voice role
|2005–14||Grey's Anatomy||Dr. Cristina Yang||Main cast (Season 1–10): 220 episodes|
|2006||Odd Job Jack||Vanessa||Episodes: "Jack Ryder Gets Hitched", "My Big Miserable African Honeymoon"|
|2006–07||American Dragon: Jake Long||Sun Park||Voice role
|2008, 2012||Phineas and Ferb||Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Girlfriend||Voice role
|2009||Robot Chicken||Kate Winslet / Sarah Connor||Voice role
Episode: "Cannot Be Erased, So Sorry"
|2010||Thorne||DS Sarah Chen|
|2011||Sesame Street||Fairy Cookie Person|
|2011||Michael: Every Day||Dr. Judy Song||Episode: "Ridicule"|
|2014||Betas||Sharron||Episode: "Steppin' Out"|
|2015||Shitty Boyfriends||Kathy||6 episodes|
|2016||Peg + Cat||President||Voice role
Episode: "The Package Problem / The Train Problem"
|2017||American Crime||Abby Tanaka|
|2018||Killing Eve||Detective Eve||BBC American series|
Awards and nominations
|1994||Double Happiness||Genie Awards||Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role||Won|
|1998||Last Night||Genie Awards||Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role||Won|
|2004||Sideways||Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Cast||Won|
|2004||Sideways||Broadcast Film Critics Association||Best Cast||Won|
|2004||Sideways||Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Cast||Won|
|2004||Sideways||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Won|
|2005||Grey's Anatomy||Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Won|
|2005||Grey's Anatomy||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series||Won|
|2005||Grey's Anatomy||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series||Nominated|
|2005||Grey's Anatomy||Satellite Awards||Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Nominated|
|2006||Grey's Anatomy||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series||Nominated|
|2006||Grey's Anatomy||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2007||Grey's Anatomy||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series||Nominated|
|2007||Grey's Anatomy||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Won|
|2008||Grey's Anatomy||Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2008||Grey's Anatomy||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series||Nominated|
|2009||Grey's Anatomy||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series||Nominated|
|2015||Grey's Anatomy||People's Choice Awards||People's Choice Awards for Favorite TV Character We Miss Most||Won|