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Also Known As: Died:
Born: July 20, 1971 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Nepean, Ontario, CA Profession: actress, dancer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though actress Sandra Oh secured leading parts on television and in film in her native Canada, she found some difficulty translating that success when she initially sought work in the United States, due in large part to her Korean heritage. Possessing a likable combination of realized self-assurance and a childlike vulnerability, Oh was able to persevere, landing a scene-stealing and award-winning supporting role as an overworked and underpaid assistant to a sports agent on "Arli$$" (HBO, 1996-2002). Oh was able to parlay her critical acclaim into ever-increasingly higher profile roles, including "Dancing at the Blue Iguana" (2000) and "Under the Tuscan Sun" (2003). But in 2004, Oh suddenly emerged onto the national stage as part of the ensemble cast of then-husband Alexander Payne's droll, wine-soaked dramedy, "Sideways" (2004). She immediately followed with an award-winning performance as the overly ambitious surgical intern, Cristina Yang, on the hit series, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ), earning the talented actress the acclaim and recognition she richly deserved.Born on July 20, 1971 in Nepean, Ontario, Canada, Oh was raised by her father, Joon-Soo, a businessman, and her mother, Young-Nam, a...

Though actress Sandra Oh secured leading parts on television and in film in her native Canada, she found some difficulty translating that success when she initially sought work in the United States, due in large part to her Korean heritage. Possessing a likable combination of realized self-assurance and a childlike vulnerability, Oh was able to persevere, landing a scene-stealing and award-winning supporting role as an overworked and underpaid assistant to a sports agent on "Arli$$" (HBO, 1996-2002). Oh was able to parlay her critical acclaim into ever-increasingly higher profile roles, including "Dancing at the Blue Iguana" (2000) and "Under the Tuscan Sun" (2003). But in 2004, Oh suddenly emerged onto the national stage as part of the ensemble cast of then-husband Alexander Payne's droll, wine-soaked dramedy, "Sideways" (2004). She immediately followed with an award-winning performance as the overly ambitious surgical intern, Cristina Yang, on the hit series, "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ), earning the talented actress the acclaim and recognition she richly deserved.

Born on July 20, 1971 in Nepean, Ontario, Canada, Oh was raised by her father, Joon-Soo, a businessman, and her mother, Young-Nam, a biochemist. Both her parents emigrated from Korea to Canada in the late-1960s. As a child, she entered ballet class at the age of 4 and landed her first role at 10, playing The Wizard of Woe in a school production of "The Canada Goose." Oh was a busy student at Sir Robert Borden High School in Ottawa, where she was a member of the drama club; founder of the environmental club, Borden Active Students for the Environment (BASE), Student Council President; and a member of both the volleyball and cross-country skiing teams. After getting her professional start at 15 on television and in commercials, she turned down a four-year journalism scholarship to Carleton University in order to pay her own way at the National Theatre School of Canada as a drama student. Meanwhile, Oh made her onscreen debut in Marc Voizard's short film "The Journey Home" (1989).

After graduating college, Oh immediately had a breakout role starring in "The Diary of Evelyn Lau" (CBS, 1993), a fact-based tale of a young woman who falls into a life of drugs and prostitution. Her impressive performance won Oh a great deal of acclaim and recognition, including a nomination for a Gemini Award. She followed up that same year with a starring role in the CBC biopic "Adrienne Clarkson Presents," in which she played the titular Canadian broadcaster. In 1995, Oh advanced her career with an award-winning portrayal of a young Chinese-Canadian woman struggling to live her own life and break free from her family's oppressive traditions in "Double Happiness." Oh proved a remarkable onscreen presence, brimming with an understated, but nevertheless luminous vitality and charm. She capably handled both the lighter romantic moments and the more tension-filled family clashes. For her multi-layered work, she was awarded that year's Best Actress Genie - the Canadian equivalent of an Academy Award.

After a failed attempt at breaking through on U.S. television with a recurring role on the quickly cancelled sitcom "If Not For You" (CBS, 1995), Oh won the part of Rita, an overworked and underpaid assistant to tactless sports agent Arliss Michaels (Robert Wuhl), on the HBO comedy "Arli$$" (1996-2002). She was awarded a 1997 CableACE Award for her performance and proved her comic bona fides while exposing her talents to an American audience. The short, 13-episode seasons on "Arli$$" gave Oh an opportunity to remain active in features, including memorable turns in "Bean" (1997) and "Permanent Midnight" (1998). She then took the lead role in Don McKellar's acclaimed Armageddon-themed "Last Night" (1998). Thoughtful and straightforward, "Last Night" followed several residents of Toronto and their last few hours on Earth before a mysterious, but preordained apocalyptic event. Oh played a woman whose car is vandalized in the rioting surrounding the final day and is unable to get home or to reach her husband (David Cronenberg), with whom she had planned to commit suicide. But then things change after meeting Patrick Wheeler (McKellar), a man more than happy to spend his last hours alone. Oh's performance in the quietly fascinating feature was both impressive and unsettling, and earned the actress her second Genie Award.

Sticking with Canadian films, Oh was featured in "The Five Senses" and Francois Girard's "The Red Violin" (1998), an epic tale that followed the travels of the titular instrument throughout the centuries. She was next featured in Audrey Wells' "Guinevere" (1999), playing a protégée of Connie (Stephen Rea), an artist and procurer of young women. Also that year, Oh had a two-episode stint as a no-nonsense faculty member on high school teen drama "Popular" (WB, 1999-2001). On the big screen, she had one of her best roles playing a romantically challenged exotic dancer fond of writing poetry in Michael Radford's "Dancing at the Blue Iguana" (2000), which revolved around the lives of several strippers at a Los Angeles club and starred Daryl Hannah and Jennifer Tilly. Meanwhile, she played a school principal in Garry Marshall's teen Cinderella fantasy "The Princess Diaries" (2001), before landing a significant role as Bambi Kanetaka in the ensemble cast of Armistead Maupin's "Further Tales of the City" (Showtime, 2001) and a recurring part as police detective Shelly Tran on "Judging Amy" (CBS, 1999-2005). Oh then landed a supporting turn in the Frankie Muniz kid revenge comedy "Big Fat Liar" (2002) and had a cameo as a fired employee in Steven Soderbergh's failed A-list indie effort, "Full Frontal" (2002).

Oh continued to up her profile by playing Patti, one of Diane Lane's sympathetic gal pals who sends her on a trip to Tuscany to shake off her romantic malaise, in the romantic comedy "Under the Tuscan Sun" (2003). But it was her next film which made her a household name. In the buddy picture "Sideways" (2004), Oh played a somewhat liberal-minded winery employee who becomes romantically entangled with a libidinous bridegroom (Thomas Hayden Church) on a pre-wedding road trip engineered by his down-and-out best friend (Paul Giamatti). Written and directed by Oh's husband Alexander Payne, "Sideways" earned massive critical acclaim for all involved, though the film became a bittersweet moment in time for the couple, as Payne and Oh announced their split shortly after the 2005 awards season. Professionally speaking, however, things were looking up for the actress when she shifted to the small screen by landing the role of the emotionally-bottled and manipulative physician Cristina Yang in the ensemble medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" (ABC, 2005- ).

To the surprise of nearly everyone involved, the show was an overnight smash, with diehard fans following the cast's every move both on screen and off. Over the course of several seasons, Cristina had a complicated interracial romance with a cocky surgeon (Isaiah Washington), only to find herself abandoned by him at the altar. Oh won a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild award while earning consecutive Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series from 2005-09. Maintaining a regular presence in feature films during her "Grey's" tenure, Oh starred in "The Night Caller" (2006), an adaptation of Armistead Maupin's bestselling thriller about a late night radio host who strikes up a friendship with a young listener with a suspicious hard-luck story. Oh enjoyed brief screen time in the Christopher Guest-penned Hollywood satire "For Your Consideration" (2006), which she followed with a meatier supporting role as the Ministry of Health in the unsuccessful epidemic thriller, "Blindness" (2008). In August 2013, Oh announced that she would be leaving "Grey's Anatomy" after the show's upcoming tenth season.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Tammy (2014)
2.
 33 Liberty Lane (2013)
3.
 Quantum Quest (2012)
4.
 Rabbit Hole (2010)
5.
6.
 Defendor (2009)
7.
 Blindness (2008)
9.
10.
 Cake (2006)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Began acting and studing ballet at an early age
1981:
First role was at age of 10 was in her school musical, "The Canada Goose"
1989:
Featured in Marc Voizard's short film "The Journey Home"
1991:
Left home to attend Montreal's National Theatre School of Canada
:
Was cast as a chubby young boy in Peter Hinton's play "The Witch of Edmonton"
1993:
Cast as Vancouver author Evelyn Lau in the biographical TV film "The Diary of Evelyn Lau"
1993:
Starred as Canadian broadcaster Adrienne Clarkson in the biographical TV film "Adrienne Clarkson Presents"
1995:
Cast in the lead role in the Canadian film "Double Happiness"; won the Genie Award for Best Actress
1995:
Starred in a London, Ontario stage production of David Mamet's "Oleanna"
1995:
Appeared in the CBS TV-movie "Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling"
1995:
Had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom "If Not for You"; series was cancelled after four episodes
1996:
Starred on stage as a police officer in the Toronto production "Inquest"
1996:
Was a regular on the HBO sports-themed comedy "Arli$$"
1997:
Played a LA publicist with a comedic turn in the feature, "Bean"
1998:
Starred in Don McKellar's thoughtful look at the world's end in "Last Night" (released in the USA in 1999)
1998:
Starred on the New York stage in the Off-Broadway production of "Stop Kiss"
1999:
Appeared in the Canadian feature "The Five Senses"
1999:
Featured in the ensemble of Francois Girard's acclaimed film "The Red Violin" (co-scripted by McKellar)
1999:
Had a recurring role on the WB's high school set series "Popular"
2000:
Received high praise for her role as a poetry-writing stripper in "Dancing at the Blue Iguana"; performed several nude dance routines
2003:
Cast in a supporting role, opposite Diane Lane in the romantic feature "Under the Tuscan Sun"
2004:
Co-starred with Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen and Thomas Haden Church in "Sideways"; helmed by then husband Alexander Payne
2005:
Cast as Dr. Cristina Yang on ABC's medical drama "Grey's Anatomy"; received five consecutive Emmy nominations (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009) for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
2005:
Featured in the film "Sorry, Haters" with Robin Wright Penn
2006:
Cast in the Off Broadway play "Satellites"; nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
2006:
Co-starred in the psychological thriller, "The Night Listener"
2008:
Appeared opposite Julianne Moore in director Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness"
2010:
Co-starred with Selena Gomez and Joey King in "Ramona and Beezus," based on Beverly Cleary's popular children's book series
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Sir Robert Borden High School: -
National Theatre School of Canada: - 1993

Notes

Critic Sheila Benson on Sandra Oh's impressive "Double Happiness" turn: "Ottowa-born Oh has the full arsenal: range, depth, passion and technique. All that aside, she's irrevocably lovable, a touching combination of glorious and goofy that has already inspired the French press to describe her as "a young Piaf."---From INTERVIEW, August 1995.

"I've been in a play once a year since I was 10. I think if I went through a year without it, I'd go crazy! I'd die! It's a health issue!"---Oh on keeping her ties to theater as her screen career escalates, quoted in the TORONTO SUN, January 29, 1996.

Oh on the Canadian feature "Last Night" and the Hollywood films "Armageddon" and "Deep Impact", regarding their similar end-of-the-world themes but vastly different approaches: "I've been thinking a lot recently about the differences between Americans and Canadians and you see it in the difference between our films and those two other films. Americans have this assumption to this right to do things to stop it all and change history. We accept it. We get to a deeper question of what would you do individually. As a metaphor, it is also extremely relevant: How do you want to live your live? The question really is: Do you live that last moment for yourself or for someone else? American films are apocalyptic in such a crude, warlike way. We're more of a thinking culture." --quoted to the TORONTO SUN, October 19, 1998

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