Actress Sandra Oh recently shared how dedicated she was to her Grey’s Anatomy character, Dr. Cristina Yang.
As many fans of the long-running ABC series will know, Oh acted on Grey’s for 10 seasons and was a part of its original cast back in 2005. While speaking with Kerry Washington during Variety’s “Actors on Actors” issue, Oh said she and Grey’s Anatomy’s creator and former showrunner, Shonda Rhimes, would often go back and forth over how she felt Cristina was being portrayed on-screen. Additionally, Oh said she frequently talked to the writers regarding the storylines her character went through during the duration of the series, even if the feedback wasn’t always positive.
“I would go toe-to-toe with Shonda and a lot of the writers, which has been challenging,” Oh shared. “But I think ultimately, for the entire product and our relationship, if you’re fighting for the show, if you’re fighting for your character, people can tell that.”
One of the issues Oh recalled discussing with Rhimes and her team was the relationship between her character and Preston Burke (Isaiah Washington). In Season 3 of Grey’s, Cristina and Burke were planning on getting married and were the only interracial relationship on the series at the time. Although the show historically didn’t discuss the doctors’ races for the first 10 seasons of the show, Oh felt the writers could’ve addressed the relationship more as the on-screen couple became more serious.
“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!'” Oh said. “But they didn’t want to touch it, for whatever reason. Now my interest is much more in bringing that story in.”
During their discussion, Oh joked that the writers often saw her notes coming through the years. Washington, who starred on Shonda Rhimes-led series Scandal for six seasons, said she also shared her input with the writers, but always began the critiques with positive notes.
After 10 seasons, Oh left Grey’s Anatomy in 2015. The seasons she starred in were some that Ellen Pompeo, who leads the drama, said were the show’s best. Oh said she is very proud she never “gave up” advocating for her character. Currently, she stars as Eve Polastri in BBC America’s Killing Eve. In 2019, Oh won Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Drama at the Golden Globes. Oh also made history as the first woman of Asian descent to host the award show alongside Andy Samberg, per Deadline.