While Sandra Oh’s farewell from Grey’s Anatomy was a bitter pill to swallow for some, the actress revealed the challenges she faced while on the show.
In a recent interview for Variety‘s Actors On Actors series, Oh spoke with Kerry Washington about her iconic roles on both Grey’s Anatomy and Killing Eve. Oh went on to explain how her commitment to her character, Cristina Yang, often left her challenging the show’s writers when she disagreed with the content. One of those writers, being creator Shonda Rhimes herself.
“What I was able to get from Grey’s is to have the responsibility and the relationship with the writer to be able to direct where she’s going. If something kind of came up which was like, ‘That is completely wrong,’ I would go toe-to-toe with Shonda and a lot of the writers, which has been challenging” Oh revealed.
In particular, Oh recalled a story line in Season 3 of Grey’s Anatomy when Cristina was set to marry fellow doctor, Preston Burke.
“Most of the shows that I have done have not been Asian-specific purposefully,” Oh said. “When we did Grey’s, for at least the first 10 seasons we would not talk about race. We would not go into race, and that was purposeful. And, whatever, it was the right thing to do when it was.”
“In Season 3, Burke and Cristina were getting married and there were the two mothers, the Asian mother and the Black mother, and I’m like, ‘Come on, there is a lot of story that we can do here!’ But they didn’t want to touch it, for whatever reason. Now my interest is much more in bringing that story in.”
Continuing her discussion with Washington, Oh spoke up about the lack of diversity in the television industry. According to The Independent, the actress explained: “Being the sole Asian person is a very familiar place for me.”
She continued, “The U.K., I’m not afraid to say, is behind. I’m not only the only Asian person on set—sometimes it changes, [it’s] very exciting when someone comes on set.”
Revealing her discomfort with being the only person of colour on a set, Oh goes onto share her thoughts on Europe’s lack of diversity, saying:
“The development of people behind the camera is very slow in the U.K. I don’t know about the rest of Europe. Sometimes it would be me and 75 white people and I have not come from that.”