Childhood & Early Life
Sandra Miju Oh was born on July 20, 1971, in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, Canada, to Korean immigrant parents, Oh Jun-su and Jeon Young-nam. Her parents had moved to Canada in the 1960s. Her mother is a biochemist, and her father is a businessman. She has a brother named Ray, and a sister named Grace.
She learned ballet and began acting at a very young age. When she was 10, she played ‘The Wizard of Woe’ in a musical titled ‘The Canada Goose.’
She attended ‘Sir Robert Borden High School,’ where she founded the environmental club, ‘Borden Active Students for the Environment,’ and led a campaign against the use of Styrofoam cups. In her high school, she was the Student Council President.
During her high school days, she started playing the flute, took ballet training, and studied acting. She also joined a drama club, and became part of comedy groups called ‘Canadian Improv Games’ and ‘Skit Row High.’
Going against her parents' wish, she rejected a four-year journalism scholarship at ‘Carleton University’ to study drama at ‘National Theatre School of Canada’ in Montreal. She is the only person in her family who does not have a master's degree.
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On graduating from the ‘National Theatre School’ in 1993, Sandra Oh was cast in the stage production of David Mamet's two-character play ‘Oleanna.’ Around the same time, she landed roles in ‘The Diary of Evelyn Lau,’ a biographical TV film on the author’s life, and in a biopic of Adrienne Clarkson's life. Sandra won the former role after competing with more than 1,000 participants who auditioned for the role.
She came to prominence with her lead role in the Canadian film ‘Double Happiness’ in 1994, where she portrayed ‘Jade Li,’ an actor struggling to cope with the expectations of her Chinese-Canadian family.
In 1997, she portrayed ‘Bernice,’ a PR manager, in the film ‘Bean.’ In 1998, she starred in ‘Last Night,’ a Canadian apocalyptic black comedy-drama film. She then appeared in ‘Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity,’ a 2002 Canadian film.
She starred in ‘Stop Kiss,’ a play written by the American playwright Diana Son. The play was staged in 1998 at ‘The Public Theater’ in New York City.
She starred in an American drama film titled ‘Dancing at the Blue Iguana’ in 2000, where she played a stripper working at an adult dance club. In the same year, she was featured in ‘Waking the Dead,’ a drama film directed by Keith Gordon.
In 2002, she played an important role in the American teen comedy film ‘Big Fat Liar.’ She followed it up with a minor role in Steven Soderbergh's ‘Full Frontal.’
She appeared as ‘Rita Wu’ for six seasons in the popular sitcom ‘Arliss.’ The American sitcom premiered on ‘HBO’ in 1996 and continued until 2002.
She starred in the world premiere of Jessica Hagedorn's ‘Dogeaters’ at the ‘La Jolla Playhouse.’ The play addressed social, political, and cultural issues that were prevalent in the Philippines during the 1950s.
Sandra made several guest appearances in the American teenage comedy-drama ‘Popular,’ playing a humanities teacher. The show ran for two seasons from 1999 to 2001 on ‘The WB.’
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She also guest-starred on television series, such as ‘Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,’ ‘Six Feet Under,’ ‘Judging Amy,’ and ‘Odd Job Jack.’
In 2003, she starred in a supporting role in ‘Under the Tuscan Sun,’ followed by a supporting role in the American black comedy drama ‘Sideways’ in 2004. In 2005, she appeared in a number of films, including David Slade's thriller ‘Hard Candy.’ She then appeared in the independent anthology drama ‘3 Needles,’ in which she played a Catholic nun in an AIDS-stricken African village.
In the same year, she was featured as ‘Cristina Yang’ on the hit ‘ABC’ medical drama series ‘Grey's Anatomy.’ In August 2013, she announced that the show’s tenth season would be her final season.
While working on ‘Grey's Anatomy,’ she simultaneously appeared in several films. She appeared in the thriller ‘The Night Listener’ in 2006; in the comedy film ‘Defendor’ in 2009; ‘Ramona and Beezus’ in 2010; and in the critically acclaimed drama ‘Rabbit Hole’ in 2010.
She also did a few voice roles, voicing the character of ‘Princess Ting-Ting’ in ‘Mulan II’ and then voicing ‘Doofah’ in ‘The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends.’ She hosted the 28th ‘Genie Awards’ on March 3, 2008.
In 2009, she performed in ‘The People Speak,’ a documentary film that featured dramatic and musical performances. She also appeared in the British crime drama ‘Thorne.’ Before commencing her shoot for ‘Thorne,’ she took training from a dialect coach in order to play her British character.
In October 2014, she announced that she would collaborate with Canadian director Ann Marie Fleming for an animated feature film titled ‘Window Horses.’ The film was released in 2016. Meanwhile in 2015, she appeared in the comedy web series ‘Shitty Boyfriends.’ In 2017, she appeared in the comedy film ‘Catfight’ where she played ‘Veronica Salt.’
In 2018, she was cast to play the lead role of ‘Eve Polastri’ in the British spy thriller TV series ‘Killing Eve.’ The following year, she co-hosted the 76th ‘Golden Globe Awards.’ In 2019, she also hosted an episode of the popular TV show ‘Saturday Night Live.’
Awards & Achievements
Sandra Oh won the ‘Genie Award’ for ‘Best Actress’ for the film ‘Double Happiness’ in 1994. She also won the ‘Genie Award’ for ‘Best Actress’ for her role in the film ‘Last Night’ in 1998.
She received the ‘NAACP Image Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series’ and a ‘Cable Ace Award’ for ‘Best Actress in a Comedy’ for ‘Arliss.’
Her role in ‘Grey's Anatomy’ earned her a ‘Golden Globe Award’ for ‘Best Supporting Actress in a Series’ and a ‘Screen Actors Guild Award’ for ‘Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series’ in 2005. She also received five ‘Emmy’ nominations for her role in the series.
In 2019, Oh won ‘Best Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series’ at the ‘SAG Awards.’
After being in a relationship with filmmaker Alexander Payne for five years, Sandra Oh married him on January 1, 2003. However, they got separated in 2005, and divorced in 2006.
On July 8, 2013, she received the ‘Key to the City of Ottawa’—an honor bestowed upon esteemed residents—from Mayor Jim Watson.
In 2018, she became a U.S. citizen. She refers to herself as an ‘Asian-Canadian-American.’