By: Mie Murasa
Who inspires you most in the entertainment industry? For me it is an easy question to answer. Sandra Oh.
Since Grey’s Anatomy, Oh has become a household name and consistently goes from strength to strength. Whether playing the title role in hit drama Killing Eve or co-delivering a powerful opening monologue at the Golden Globes, Sandra Oh‘s talent and genuine passion shines through. Oh to me is and has ever been both a pillar and pursuer of the change we are beginning to see in the entertainment industry.
Back in January, Oh became the first Asian woman to receive two Golden Globes for her outstanding roles in Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve. Cristina Yang (Oh‘s character in Grey’s Anatomy) was unlike any other Asian American character ever seen before. Yang didn’t conform to the usual stereotypes, she was sarcastic, witty and most importantly fiercely independent. After leaving Grey’s in 2014, Oh awaited offers that she hoped would follow (as she described in her interview with Vanity Fair). But as many Asian actors expect to -and often do- experience, she was offered mainly roles where the characters were specifically Asian or disappointingly no offers at all. When the casting for Killing Eve came around Oh expected further rejection, however she was aptly cast in the title role. Playing Eve Polastri would have been a game changer for any actor however for Sandra Oh and consequently aspiring Asian actors this role was pivotal. Oh‘s character in the original books from which Killing Eve was adapted was white. In an industry when even crucially Asian roles are not always available to Asian actors, this casting acts as a wake up call to an industry so in need of it.
As a role model Sandra Oh is as exceptional as it comes. She understands the importance of her career and the impact it has on our community, as a result she uses her platform for the benefit of others. On her Instagram, Oh posted a picture showing the diversity of the cast and crew on the film Meditation Park saying “it’s possible!”This showed Oh‘s fight for diversity isn’t just contained to the screen to meet superficial quotas, she also fights to ensure diversity behind the camera. In her interviews she notes how on Killing Eve diversity throughout all the dramas production is “vital” and shouldn’t just be limited to just the visible cast. Oh is refreshingly humble, candidly thanking those who propped her up and gave her encouraging words when she needed them. She recognises the journey she has been on to achieve her success and is a guide to others on their own journeys just as a true role model should.
What is most inspiring about this amazing woman is the way she speaks with great passion, emotion and intelligence. When she co-hosted the Golden Globes with Andy Samberg they joked they were the only ones left in Hollywood who hadn’t said anything offensive, possibly as a reference to the controversy surrounding Kevin Hart. The duo bounced of each other making jokes about whitewashing and Sandra needing Pepcid to tackle the “Asian glow” for her people. As an Asian woman it felt truly inclusive. It was also moving to see Sandra include her parents in her achievements and express her love for them in Korean. Then Sandra spoke honestly about why she agreed to co host “I said yes to the feat of being on this stage because I wanted to look out into this audience and witness this moment of change. And I’m not fooling myself. Next year can be different, it probably will be, but right now, this moment is real.” Though it was short it was powerful. What Sandra said she said from the heart and it resonated with all those who understood what importance representation bears.
Other than the long awaited release of Killing Eve Season 2 Sandra Oh‘s more recent successes include being the third “Asian (Canadian) American” woman to host Saturday Night Live. It’s clear things are on the up for Sandra Oh and hopefully as her success grows so will the success of other Asian women. Sandra is realistic about the future as she knows the industry too well. Yet, she stays intensely optimistic and true to herself. Just as everybody should be.
Mie is Japanese and English, living in the UK and studies English literature, History and Japanese at Sixth Form. She enjoys writing so aspires to be a Journalist and make documentaries. In her spare time she enjoys travelling and learning more about her two cultures.
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(Image credit: @iamsandraoh)