Sandra Oh

This is a Korean name; the family name is Oh.
Sandra Oh

Oh in 2016
Born Sandra Miju Oh
(1971-07-20) July 20, 1971
Nepean, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Actress
Years active 1989–present
Spouse(s) Alexander Payne (m. 2003–06)

Sandra Miju Oh[1] (born July 20, 1971) is a Canadian actress known for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on ABC's medical drama Grey's Anatomy, a role that earned her a Golden Globe, two Screen Actors Guild awards, as well as 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 acclaimed 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.

Early life

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.[2] Her father is a businessman and her mother a biochemist.[3]

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.[4]

Growing up, Oh was one of the few youths of Asian descent in Nepean.[5][6]

At the age of 10, she played The Wizard of Woe in a class musical, The Canada Goose.[7][8]

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"[4] 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.[7] Reflecting on forgoing university, Oh said: "I’m the only person in my family who doesn’t have a master's in something."[9]

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 (1996), 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."[10] 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."[11] Oh won the Genie Award for Best Actress for the role.

She then went on to star in the 1997 international feature hit film Bean playing the supporting role of Bernice, the art gallery P.R. 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,[12] 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."[13] 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 critically acclaimed drama Sideways (2004). She considers Sideways to be one of the two best movies she has made, along with Evelyn Lau.[7]

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 Dr. 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.[14]

Oh at the presentation of her star on Canada's Walk of Fame in 2011

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17]

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.[18] In 2013, Oh formally announced that she would be leaving Grey's Anatomy.[14][19] Oh made her last appearance as Cristina Yang, exiting the series, with the season 10 finale.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

Personal life

Oh and filmmaker Alexander Payne were in a relationship for five years. They married on January 1, 2003, separated in early 2005, and divorced in late 2006.[23] On July 8, 2013 Sandra Oh received the key to the City of Ottawa, Ontario, from Mayor Jim Watson.[8][24]



Year Title Role Notes
1989 The Journey Home Short film
1994 Double Happiness Jade Li
1995 Prey Il Bae Short film
1996 Cowgirl Sarah Hwang Short film
1997 Bean Bernice Schimmel
1997 Bad Day on the Block
1998 Last Night Sandra
1998 The Red Violin Madame Ming
1998 Permanent Midnight Friend
1999 Guinevere Cindy
2000 Waking the Dead Kim
2000 Dancing at the Blue Iguana Jasmine
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 Rick Michelle
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 Sideways Stephanie
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 Cake Lulu
2005 3 Needles Mary
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
2007 Falling Melanie Short film
2008 Blindness Minister of Health
2009 Defendor Dr. Park
2009 The People Speak Herself Documentary
2010 Quantum Quest: A Cassini Space Odyssey Gal 2000
2010 Ramona and Beezus Mrs. Meacham
2010 Rabbit Hole Gabby
2015 The Scarecrow Evelyn Short film
2014 Tammy Susanne
2016 Window Horses Rosie Ming Voice role
2016 Catfight Veronica


Year Title Role Notes
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
53 episodes
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
5 episodes
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
6 episodes
2008, 2012 Phineas and Ferb Dr. Doofenshmirtz's Girlfriend Voice role
3 episodes
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

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated work Award Category Result
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


  1. Posner, Michael (May 12, 2007). "Sandra Oh's doing just fine". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  2. "The Winding Career of Sandra Oh". NPR. November 23, 2004. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  3. "Sandra Oh Biography". Film Reference. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
  4. 1 2 "Sandra Oh on the Challenge of Being Korean in Hollywood". The Chosun Ilbo. April 13, 2007. Archived from the original on May 19, 2007. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  5. "Sandra Oh: "Asians ROCK Month"". Asia Society. April 30, 2008. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  6. "Sandra Oh Live On Kelly And Michael Talks About Leaving Greys Anatomy". Kelly and Michael. October 10, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  7. 1 2 3 Posner, Michael (May 12, 2007). "Sandra Oh's Doing Just Fine: Profile". Toronto Globe and Mail. pp. R6–R7. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  8. 1 2 Dodge, Brier (July 18, 2013). "Sandra Oh receives key to the city". Ottawa Community News. Retrieved December 13, 2013.
  9. McDonald, Soraya Nadia (May 16, 2014). "Seven things you didn't know about Sandra Oh, who played Cristina Yang on 'Grey's Anatomy'". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  10. Ebert, Roger (August 25, 1995). "Double Happiness Movie Review". The Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  11. Maslin, Janet (July 28, 1995). "FILM REVIEW; A Delicate Asian Flower In a Motorcycle Jacket". The New York Times. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  12. "Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  13. Holden, Stephen (October 19, 2001). "FILM REVIEW; A Club Where Strippers May Also Be Dreamers". Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  14. 1 2 Goldberg, Lesley (August 13, 2013). "Sandra Oh to Exit 'Grey's Anatomy' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  15. "Awards Ceremony Host biography".
  16. Archived May 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  17. "Thorne: Characters: Sandra Oh - Sky1 HD". Retrieved 2012-07-18.
  18. "Press Release: Canada's Walk of Fame Announces the 2011 Inductees". Canada's Walk of Fame. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  19. Bibel, Sara (August 13, 2013). "Sandra Oh Will Leave 'Grey's Anatomy' at the End of the Tenth Season". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
  20. "Sandra Oh Leaving 'Grey's'". Huffington Post. August 13, 2013.
  21. "Home". CBC News. July 27, 2015.
  22. Evry, Max (December 23, 2015). "Catfight Stars Sandra Oh, Anne Heche and Alicia Silverstone". Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  23. Lee, Ken; Stephen M. Silverman (December 27, 2006). "Sandra Oh's Marriage Is Officially Over". People Magazine. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
  24. "Actor Sandra Oh to get Ottawa's Key to the City". CBC. May 30, 2013. Retrieved December 13, 2013.

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