You might know Sandra Oh as Dr. Cristina Yang from ABC's "Grey's Anatomy." Oh received five Emmy nominations for best supporting actress in a drama series for the role, but never won. In addition to the hit medical drama, Oh has spent nearly three decades turning out commanding, forceful and tear-filled performances in 75 different roles.
This year, Oh — who was born in Canada to Korean parents — made history as the first women of Asian descent to be nominated for best lead actress in a drama series for her work on the BBC America series "Killing Eve." Even though she didn't win last night, her nomination alone still made Emmy history.
The significance of this milestone is not lost on Oh. "I am absolutely aware of the significance and take it very seriously because we need it. Not only just for my community — and hopefully what that means to be represented and seen — but also for culture," she told The New York Times.
Oh landed her first professional acting job at the age of 15 and paid her way through college at the National Theatre School of Canada when her parents refused to pay for drama school.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1996 to focus on acting full-time but faced barriers because of her race. "I remember one agent who was so, so mean," Oh recalled to Marie Claire in 2007. "She said, 'People are going to lie to you, but I'm not going to lie. Someone like you' — and you know what the f--k that means, right? — 'you're just not gonna work.'"
Now, Oh hopes that her nomination will pave the way for more diverse representation on-screen and in award shows.
"We've got to start somewhere. And I'm happy to get that ball rolling, because what I hope happens is that next year and the next year and the next year, we will have presence," she tells the Times. "And the presence will grow not only to Asian-Americans, you know, from yellow to brown, but to all our other sisters and brothers. Our First Nations sisters and brothers. Our sisters and brothers of different sizes and different shapes."
Oh faced stiff competition in the Best Lead Actress category. "Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series might be the most stacked category to be decided during Monday's telecast," wrote Angela Watercutter for Wired. Fellow nominees of Oh's included Elisabeth Moss for "The Handmaid's Tale," Evan Rachel Wood for "Westworld" and Claire Foy, who won for her work on "The Crown."
"I'm just so pleased to be in this category with this group of women," Oh told Entertainment Tonight.
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