Sandra Oh's movie and TV show roles have been revolutionary in amplifying Asian representation in mainstream media. From the tenaciously loyal Cristina Yang in Grey's Anatomy to the comedic Vice Principal Gupta in The Princess Diaries, Sandra brings life and relatability to any character she plays. Even then, she's been very vocal about the need to have more Asian characters on big and small screens.
Since she just celebrated her 50th birthday last 20 July with a short ode to her previous roles, we're ranking our fave characters — from least to most favourite — that the talented Emmy-winning actress played over the years. Would you agree with our list?
#5: Jade Li in Double Happiness (2014)
Sandra's first big role was Jade Li in Double Happiness (1994), a feature film directed by Mina Shum about a young aspiring actor who battles with her family's expectations as she pursues her life-long dream of breaking into the film industry. She won a Genie Award, which recognises the best of Canadian cinema, for this role. It was the beginning of a bright acting career for 23-year-old Sandra.
#4: Vice Principal Gupta in The Princess Diaries (2001)
Millennials would be very familiar with The Princess Diaries starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. But one of our favourite moments in the movie was when Sandra's Vice-Principal Gupta meets Julie Andrews' Queen Clarisse. The vice-principal's excessively shaking hands and starstruck acting showed us her comedic chops in the few minutes of screen time she had. The only thing we'd change in the movie is adding more scenes for Sandra.
#3: Ava in Meditation Park (2017)
Our next pick is Sandra's third project with director Mina Shum, which was a feature film called Meditation Park (2017). It stars award-winning actress Pei-Pei Cheng as Maria, an Asian immigrant in her 60s who starts questioning her life after suspecting her husband of having an affair. Sandra plays Ava, Maria’s daughter and her main support in finding independence and regaining confidence. The entire film was poignantly acted and had a relatability that any woman at any age can recognise.
#2: Eve Polastri in Killing Eve (2018 —)
Sandra's performance as Eve Polastri earned her a Golden Globe Award for best actress in a drama series and an Emmy nomination. Both are very well-deserved in our opinion. After all, portraying Eve, an MI5 security officer-slash-aspiring spy hunting for a talented assassin (played by Jodie Comer), in a pulp fiction-esque setting is a truly unique and slightly bizarre thing to see on television. Eve's character is the perfect mix of comedy and drama, which Sandra perfectly delivers in every season. If you want to catch up — there's at least one more season in the works — then you can watch the show through iTunes, Google Play, YouTube TV, and Amazon Prime.
#1: Dr. Cristina Yang in Grey’s Anatomy (2005-2014)
Last, but definitely not the least, is her iconic role as the tenaciously loyal Cristina Yang in Grey's Anatomy. It’s our top pick for our fave Sandra Oh character of all time. She served us tear-jerking performances and heart-warming moments up until she left the show in 2014. She gave us iconic lines such as "She's my person" to describe Meredith. And there’s also the scathingly empowering quote "Oh, screw beautiful. I’m brilliant. If you want to appease me, compliment my brain." Seeing a passionate, confident Asian woman on Western television is so important, and we'd like to think that Sandra Oh inspired a lot of Asian actresses to explore the craft too.
Which Sandra Oh movie or TV role was your favourite?
(Cover photo from: @killingeve)