Sandra Oh will be leaving the hit TV show, Grey’s Anatomy after ten seasons. Oh currently plays Dr. Cristina Yang, who is a cardiothoracic surgical fellow and best friend to main character, Meredith Grey. Yang is of Korean descent and can easily be described as an overachiever as witnessed by her educational background. She has a B.A. from Smith College, a Ph.D. in biochemistry from UC Berkeley, and an M.D. from Stanford University. While attending Stanford, Yang graduated first in her class. Her main characteristics include her extremely competitive nature, abrasive personality, ambitious goals, and tactless disposition.
Sandra Miju Oh (her middle names means “pretty pearl” in Korean) was born on July 20, 1971 in Nepean, Ontario, Canada. Oh’s parents Joon-Soo (father) and Young-Nan (mother) immigrated to Canada in the 1960’s to study economics and biochemistry. When she was four-years-old her parents put her in ballet classes to correct her natural pigeon-toed gait, what emerged was a love for performing.
That love continued when it came time to attend college. She turned down an academic scholarship to attend the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. She even paid for her tuition on her own. Her parents didn’t approve of her going to school for acting, and thought a career in acting wouldn’t go anywhere.
“They didn’t see that there was any meaning to being an actor,” Oh explains. “It was like, ‘What are you doing for society? Are you being a good Christian?’ They were classic immigrants – they wanted their children to become doctors or lawyers.”
When she was 19-years-old she earned the lead in the television biographical movie The Diary of Evelyn Lau. For her portrayal of Evelyn Lau, she was nominated for a Gemini award and the Cannes FIPA d’Or for Best Actress. Oh fondly thinks back on this role as some of the best work she has done throughout her career.
Since then, she went on to star in such TV shows and movies such as Kung Fu the Legend Continues, Popular, Six Feet Under, The Princess Diaries, Judging Amy, Arli$$, Under the Tuscan Sun, and the Oscar winning film, Sideways.
It wasn’t until 2005 that she landed the role she would be best known for. Oh originally went to the Grey’s Anatomy audition for the part of Dr. Miranda Bailey, but changed her mind and expressed what role she really wanted.
“I remember exactly when I was rehearsing for Grey’s Anatomy and meeting Shonda [Rhimes, creator of the show] and getting the part,” Oh cites. “When I first auditioned, I actually auditioned for the part of Bailey. And I played Bailey nothing like how Bailey was supposed to really be, which is Chandra Wilson. And they said. ‘Great!’ Then they called me back. And they said, ‘You know what, we’re gonna test a bunch of people. Why don’t you come in? We’d love for you to come in and test for Bailey. And I said ‘No, I don’t want to test for Bailey. There’s another part that you haven’t cast yet, and that’s the part of Cristina,'” Oh expressed. “So I’m gonna say what I really, really want — which is, I wanna audition for the part of Cristina Yang. And then they called and they said, ‘You got the part.'”
For her performance as Dr. Cristina Yang, she won a Golden Globe in 2006 in the category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series (2005), and five consecutive back-to-back Emmy nominations (2005-2009).
The reason why she has chosen to leave Grey’s Anatomy after 10 seasons is because she feels that Yang has gone through all the avenues that one character could explore were accomplished.
“It was an emotional and deeply creative decision for me and I feel fully supported by Shonda and the writers,” Oh said in a statement. “It’s so rare in an actor’s life to be able to explore and grow a character so fully, so completely. I am profoundly grateful to everyone at GA for the opportunity.”
When asked by Jimmy Kimmel what prop she would like to keep from Grey’s Anatomy, she said, “There’s a bunch of things. I want my scrubs, I want my lab coat, I want my stethoscope. I really, really want the wedding dress that Meredith cuts Cristina out of at the end of Season 3. And I want Cristina’s jammie pants that had ‘Stanford’ on the back.”
Oh’s final appearance as Dr. Cristina Yang will be this Thursday May 15, 2014 on ABC TV Network.