Sandra Oh spent nearly a decade on Grey’s Anatomy as Cristina Yang, and one of the greatest things being a part of one of television’s most successful dramas taught her was how to say “no.” No to projects she didn’t feel connected to. No to rushing into another series right away. Instead, she focused on falling in love with the right writer, story, and character.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Oh spoke about her return to series television as the starring role in BBC America’s spy thriller, Killing Eve. Her character, Eve, is a far cry from the role for which we know Oh best. They do have a few things in common though. They are multifaceted characters of depth who are part of a series where women call the shots both in front and behind the camera. It seems like she has another hit on her hands. Killing Eve has already been renewed for a second season before the first has even premiered.
“Oh absolutely, yes. Grey's gave me the time and confidence to wait,” said Oh to THR. In the four years since leaving the long-running, medical procedural, she found her new “person” as she connected with the voice of executive producer and breakout showrunner Phoebe Waller-Bridge. “It all depends on what's driving you. I love my work, it's really important to me. And if I'm not giving my all in that way and being as clear as possible and honoring it as much as possible then it'll fall flat,” Oh shared. The actress underscored the importance of finding collaborators who she felt were on the same page and shared the same vision as pivotal pieces and the reason she waited before jumping into a new project.
Grey’s Anatomy empowered Oh’s fellow castmate Ellen Pompeo as well. Earlier this year, the actress got candid about money and why women shouldn’t be afraid to ask for what is fair. "As women, you know, it’s not only about what’s done to us or what’s not given to us, it’s what don’t we ask for," Pompeo told Jimmy Kimmel in an interview. Disagreeing with the notion that the only appropriate response is the be agreeable, Pompeo encouraged other women to ask for more.
While not all actors can afford to always wait for the right series, Oh’s pursuit of women and creators of color is admirable. She is being intentional about bringing up talented people who will diversify the industry and provide more opportunities for women and people of color in the future. Oh has learned one of the most important lessons in life – how to advocate for yourself. Her time on Grey’s taught her to be her own “person.” Oh knows where she wants her career to go, and she was okay saying no until the right one came along.
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