Hey there! Welcome to the world of Canadian television! As one of the resident Canucks here at TVRage, I have taken it upon myself to educate the TV-loving masses on the sheer talent and number of fantastic Canadian actors and actresses that are infiltrating your living rooms. Here in the land of beavers, maple syrup and hockey, we take a lot of pride in the accomplishments of our home grown talents. I hope that each week I can surprise you with some very famous people you had no idea were from the true north, strong and free! It’s the invading moose!
This week I am shining a spotlight on one of my favourite television actresses. This is a woman who plays strong, independent and colourful characters on TV. Her range of acting abilities constantly impresses me, and she is one of those women whose passion shines through effortlessly in her work. Sandra Oh -- or as I like to call her "Sandra Oh, Canada" (Get it? Oh, Canada? I'll just show myself out) -- has made her mark in the acting world by rising from small-town theatre productions to Emmy Award nominated television series'. Why don't we take a look at how it all began?
Sandra Oh was born in a suburb of Ottawa, Ontario called Nepean. Her parents, middle-class Korean immigrants, came to Canada in the early 1960s before starting their family. Oh's first love was always the stage. When she was four years old she began learning ballet and by the time she was 10 she was acting in musicals and plays. While attending high school Oh focused her attentions on acting in school plays, the drama club, the Canadian Improv Games and excelling as Student Council President. She was offered a four year scholarship to Carleton University to study journalism, but she turned it down to follow her passion: acting. Oh attended the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal which she says was the beginning of everything, for her.
Oh graduated from the National Theatre School in 1993 and continued to star in on-stage productions across Ontario. Her first big break came when she beat our over 1,000 other young hopefuls for the role of Vancouver author Evelyn Lau in the biographical TV film 'The Diary of Evelyn Lau.' This role required Oh to play a teenage runaway, prostitute and drug-addicted poet -- a tall order for so young an actress. Her performance won her a Gemini nomination for Best Actress, as well as the 1994 Cannes FIPA d'Or for Best Actress. Shortly after, Oh also starred as former Governor General of Canada Adrienne Clarkson in a CBC biopic on Clarkson's life. Some of Oh's best known Canadian roles include the leads in films such as 'Double Happiness,' for which she won a Genie Award for Best Actress, 'Bean,' 'Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity' and 'Last Night,' for which she won her second Best Actress Genie. Oh considers her most memorable film role to be that of Stephanie in 'Sideways.' She played a fantastic bad-ass who rolls around on a motorcycle. Upon discovering her boyfriend is actually engaged, she beats the crap out of him with her bike helmet. Like I said -- bad-ass.
Of course, Oh is most famous for her role as snarky, bitter, brilliantly smart and confusingly complicated Cristina Yang on the long-running medical drama 'Grey's Anatomy.' She is not only one of the most complex characters on the series, she routinely has out-performed the rest of her co-stars. The diversity of emotions, talent and dedication that she bring's to Cristina Yang are exactly what makes the series so successful. Her character has dealt with sensitive topics such as death, abortion, miscarriage, affairs, lying, professional and personal relationships...the list goes on-and-on actually. 'Grey's Anatomy' has a bit of a flair for the dramatics. Oh has garnered a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and no less than five Emmy nominations solely for her work on 'Grey's Anatomy.' When I learned that Oh would be leaving 'Grey's Anatomy' at the end of its 10th season I was a little more than bummed out. Sandra Oh is "our person."
Besides 'Grey's Anatomy', Oh's television work is a diverse mix of acting and voice-acting credits. She had a memorable guest arc on 'Judging Amy,' a regular role on 'Arli$$' and has lent her vocal talents to animated series' 'The Proud Family,' 'Phineas and Ferb,' 'American Dragon: Jake Long' and 'American Dad!'. Perhaps her greatest role of all time though was when she appeared on an episode of 'Sesame Street' in 2008. Oh was Cookie Monster's "fairy cookie person," bestowing upon him the "cookie touch" so that whatever he touched would turn into a cookie. Being on 'Sesame Street' as a special guest is a sure sign that you have truly made it in the acting world in the same way that being parodied by Weird Al shows just how far you have made it in the music industry.
In 2011, Oh was inducted into the Canadian Walk of Fame (where she was apparently watched over by a very smug looking Mountie) for her superb acting talents and contributions to the Canadian acting world. The introduction she was given, and her acceptance speech, show just a glimpse of what a fantastic actress and person she is. I can only hope that there is more and more of Oh to come in the next few years. I have only high-hopes for what she will bring to the large and small screen in the future.
Thanks for stopping by for this weeks Canada, Eh?! I am off to go binge watch episodes of 'Grey's Anatomy' and grill up some moose steaks. (Yes, this is a real thing, and yes, I have tried it.)