Tag Archives: Sandra Oh

korean americans on the road to fame

25 Years of KoreAm Covers: Koreans on the Road to Fame

To mark the 25th anniversary of KoreAm Journal, we’re revisiting some memorable covers from the magazine’s archives.

Take a look at some of the creative talent, athletes, influential figures, social issues and tragic events that have appeared on our cover. The panoply of images, we hope, will serve as a historical flashback, a glimpse into the people that inspired us, the issues we explored and the events that called for deeper reflection over the last 25 years.

Here are some notable Koreans who have been featured on KoreAm before they skyrocketed to stardom.


Margaret Cho (Aug. 1994): “She’s thrilled and so are her fans who are anxiously awaiting the first Asian American sitcom to ever air,” KoreAm wrote about the then-25-year-old comedienne in this Aug. 1994 cover story shortly before the debut of All American Girl.


Ahn Trio (Jan. 1998): The sister music trio is deemed by KoreAm as, “one of chamber music’s most gifted and promising young ensembles.”


Sandra Oh (July 1998): Before the Korean Canadian actress become a household name as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy and landed a number of leading screen roles, she was on the cast of HBO’s comedy series Arli$$, which KoreAm wrote about in this July 1998 cover story.

Rick Yune (Dec. 1999)Rick Yune (Dec. 1999)

Amerie (Sept. 2002)Amerie (Sept. 2002)

Karen O. ( June 2003)Karen O. ( June 2003)

John Cho (July 2004)John Cho (July 2004)

Suchin Park (2006)Suchin Park (2006)

Yu Kwon (Feb. 2007)Yu Kwon (Feb. 2007)

Daniel Dae Kim (April 2010)Daniel Dae Kim (April 2010)

Psy (Dec. 2012)


Psy (Dec. 2012)

Stay tuned for the next chapter of “25 Years of KoreAm Covers.” We’ll be showing you various influential media and government figures who have graced our magazine’s covers.

Go to Next Chapter ->



Sandra Oh Wins a People’s Choice Award

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Dr. Cristina Yang proved to television enthusiasts that she is still a fan favorite when actress Sandra Oh received a People’s Choice Award on Wednesday for Favorite TV Actress We Miss Most.

ABC’s long-running drama Grey’s Anatomy collected four awards during the star-studded event, which aired live on CBS at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theatre. In addition to Oh’s trophy, the show won awards for Favorite Network TV Drama, Favorite Dramatic TV Actor and Favorite TV Actress.

Oh said farewell to Grey’s Anatomy in its Season 10 finale and has since then been challenging herself with various projects. She starred in Ariel Dorfman’s play Death and the Maiden in June of last year and recently wore the producer’s hat for the first time for the animated film Window Horses.

You can view the full list of People’s Choice Awards winners here. Make sure to also check out KoreAm’s May 2014 cover story on Sandra Oh.


Photo courtesy of ABC/Danny Feld

koream 2014 covers

KoreAm Journal’s 2014 Covers

As 2014 draws to a close, KoreAm takes a look back at this past year’s cover stories.

January 2014

tiger jk koream cover jan 2014Read Tiger JK’s cover story here.

February 2014

arden cho koream feb 2014 coverRead Arden Cho’s cover story here.

March 2014

run river north koream mar 2014 coverRead Run River North’s cover story here

April 2014

ej ok koream april 2014 coverRead E.J. Ok’s cover story here.

May 2014

sandra oh koream may 2014 coverRead Sandra Oh’s cover story here

June 2014

sung kang koream june 2014 coverRead Sung Kang’s cover story here.

July 2014

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Read the cover story “Asian Americans: The New White?” here.

August/September 2014

shin-soo choo koream aug 2014 coverRead Shin-soo Choo’s cover story here.

October/November 2014

john cho koream oct nov 2014 coverRead John Cho’s cover story here

December 2014/January 2015

randall park dec jan 2015 coverRead Randall Park’s cover story here


To subscribe to KoreAm, click here. To purchase a copy of a past magazine issue, please contact our office via phone at (310) 769-4913 x 221 or via email at admin@iamkoream.com.

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Sandra Oh Embraces New Role as Producer in Post-‘Grey’s’ Project


Sandra Oh counts herself a pretty good cheerleader, as she puts it. It’s hard to disagree, as she emotes pure passion and enthusiasm while speaking at rapid pace about her latest post-Grey’s project, Window Horses, which has the acclaimed actress wearing a producer’s hat for the first time in her career.

The poignant story centering around a young female poet’s search for identity and family comes from award-winning Canadian filmmaker Ann Marie Fleming, and is based on the latter’s graphic novel. Fleming wanted to adapt it as an animated feature film and originally approached Oh to play the voice of protagonist Rosie Ming. The filmmaker got much more than that.

In September, when Oh sat down and read the graphic novel, she wept.

“Then I called [Fleming] and said, ‘Not only will I do it, but I have to help you make this,” recounts Oh, speaking by phone from her home in Los Angeles.

And that’s why, today, Oh, Window Horses’ executive producer, is respectfully asking for your money. She and Fleming have turned to the crowd-funding site Indiegogo to help raise $130,000, which will allow them to cast, record and get elements ready to animate the 90-minute film, according to their Indiegogo page. Kevin Langdale will serve as the film’s lead animator, and veteran actress Nancy Kwan (The World of Suzie Wong) has already come onboard to voice Rosie’s grandmother. The producers are also pursuing other types of funding sources, the Indiegogo page says.

Oh says she can talk about the project forever, and her reasons for being drawn to it are indeed numerous. “The graphic novel is so brilliant,” gushes the actress, who has known Fleming since the mid-1990s because all Canadians know each other, she jokes. “[Fleming] started writing this 10 years ago, when she was at a retreat in Germany. She’s a really, really wonderful filmmaker.”

Oh is also smitten with Rosie, a 20-something character of Chinese and Persian descent who journeys to Iran to participate in a poetry festival and makes some life-changing personal discoveries while there. “Rosie goes on an unwitting journey of forgiveness, reconciliation, and perhaps above all, understanding, through learning about her father’s past, her own complicated cultural identity, and her responsibility to it,” reads the description on the Indiegogo page. “It’s about building bridges across generations and cultures through the magic of poetry.”

Rosie is illustrated as a stick figure with a circle head and simple lines for her body, and in the Indiegogo trailer, she is often seen wearing a chador, the outer garment worn by many Iranian females in public spaces. This stick figure actually has a name: Stickgirl, Fleming’s muse-avatar who has appeared in her other projects, though usually voiced by Fleming herself. Oh is savoring this chance to be Stickgirl’s voice, as the latter portrays Rosie in what’s being billed as Stickgirl’s “first dramatic feature role.”

“I would say, when you see Stickgirl, she looks like she’s Chinese,” Oh says excitedly. “I feel like it’s an empowering thing because I personally still feel—and I’m one of the people whose job is to f-cking do it—like we [Asians] are not represented and that we do not see each other reflected enough. And the place I feel we are the least represented is in children’s and teen-ish popular culture. So what I love [about Window Horses] is you see—and this is in animation!—you see a Chinese face in a chador. And there’s something that is potentially more powerful the more representational an image is. … It’s much easier for me to see how this character potentially represents me.”

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Though the new roles Oh’s playing for this film may seem like quite the departure from her award-winning, decade-long turn on Grey’s Anatomy as the beloved Dr. Cristina Yang, she sees some similarities.

“I see it very much as a creative process. I am in service to the project,” she says. “I believe actors are in service of other things. I am in service of the playwright, of the director’s vision. I don’t mind that role—I think it’s very important. God, you cannot do it on your own. Homing in on different ideas on how we get the project out there, how we bring people onboard, and the whole world of social media—it’s new to me. But it’s a place to be creative.”

It’s also an incredible amount of work, she says, but she adds, “I really love it. I think you can only do this if you are madly in love with something.

“I believe in [Ann Marie Fleming] so much, and I believe in this project so much,” she continues. “And I think that’s why I feel really good in this producer role because I’m not selling anything. I feel my job is to do is to share my passion and enthusiasm with people, and I completely trust that people will get onboard. And this is not just to get onboard to invest and help raise the money so we can do this. One, absolutely! But, two, when I think about this project and when it comes out, I want to direct it to girls and direct the graphic novel to girls.”

Oh says she finds the story about a young woman’s search for a sense of self through poetry—the actress is a lover of poetry—”deeply empowering” for girls and women.

To learn more about the Indiegogo campaign, click here. The incentives for donating range from sharing a meal of dim sum or Persian food with Oh and Fleming, to a character of your likeness appearing in the film.

Click below to watch the charming Indiegogo video, in which Stickgirl and Oh dialogue about the project:


Sandra Oh’s New Film ‘Tammy’ Hits Theaters


All those having Sandra Oh withdrawals (come back to us, Cristina Yang!) can catch her in her new movie Tammy, which hits theaters on Wednesday.

The film stars comic superwoman Melissa McCarthy as Tammy, a woman who gets fired from her crappy job, totals her clunker car and finds her husband cheating on her with the neighbor in her own house. She hits the road with her alcoholic, foul-mouthed grandmother (Susan Sarandon) and they meet up with her cousin Lenore (Kathy Bates), who is married to Susanne, played by Oh.

Oh talks about the film in this video:

Bates told PrideSource what it was like to work with the Grey’s Anatomy alum. “I’m just absolutely in love with Sandra, and let me just say that she really brought our relationship to bloom,” she said. “She brought a lot of love and warmth, and it was her idea to have wedding rings – because of course! – which I hadn’t thought about, and also, really, to think that our relationship is the healthiest relationship in the movie.”

Check out KoreAm’s cover story on Sandra Oh. She currently stars in a stage revival of ‘Death of a Maiden,’ performed at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre through July 20.

Ken Jeong

Korean Americans On TV: Who’s In And Who’s Out?

Farewell, Señor Chang. Photo via NBC 

Wondering whether or not you’ll see your favorite Korean American faces on screen this season? Here’s a rundown of which of their shows got the green light—and which ones got the boot.

Sniff! Here are the shows that have been cancelled:   

The Neighbors: The aliens are moving out of New Jersey. Tim Jo, who plays the extraterrestrial Reggie Jackson on the ABC comedy, will have has his last laugh as the show ends after its second season. In a KoreAm interview, he said, “There’s no doubt that the world is getting more accustomed to seeing minority faces on screen.” We doubt this funny man will stay off the screen for very long.

The Tomorrow People: With the foresight of their telepathic abilities, you’d think that The Tomorrow People saw this one coming. Unfortunately, the superhuman cast of the CW Network sci-fi series is being transported back to the future, including Korean American actor Aaron Yoo, who played Russell Kwon, one of the leading roles.

Community: The spunky Ken Jeong will see his last days as Ben Chang, the pesky, peculiar, and totally endearing character on NBC’s cult comedy, Community. While the threat of cancellation loomed over the show in previous seasons like a dark cloud, the network will finally lay down the ax after five seasons. Ken Jeong tweeted, “A most heartfelt THANK YOU to all the Community fans. I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. My life is so blessed because you’re all in it. Chang The World.”

Believe: Jamie Chung’s days as Janice Channing on NBC’s drama Believe were cut short. The KA actress doesn’t seem too fazed, though. Receiving critical acclaim for her roles as Eden in the eponymous film and Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, Chung has a lot to believe in.

Growing Up Fisher: NBC’s American sitcom will be cancelled after its first season, despite the efforts of 13-year-old Lance Lim, who played Runyen. Three days before the show was cancelled, Lim posted on his Facebook page, “We really need all the viewers on this one so please please please watch tonights episode of Growing Up Fisher, again at 9:30 on NBC! 1 view really counts so even if you can’t watch it just turn the tv on at NBC! thanks guys!”

Intelligence: You’d think that any show starring the husky voice and the chiseled features of Josh Holloway would grace our screens forever. Sad to say, CBS will cancel the cyber-themed television series after only one season. Will Yun Lee had a recurring role.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can still catch your fave KA TV actors on these shows, which have been renewed. 

Once Upon a Time: Who is this girl I see, staring straight back at me? Jamie Chung, that’s who. As mentioned above, Chung will continue her role as Mulan in ABC’s Once Upon a Time as the show moves forward with its fourth season.

Modern Family: There’s no way ABC will cancel a show that features the most adorable, spunkiest little girl on television. We’re talking about Aubrey Anderson Emmons, who plays Lily Tucker-Pritchett on Modern Family. Little known fact: Emmons is the daughter of South Korean adoptee and comedian Amy Anderson and radio host Kent Emmons.

The 100: Speaking of Korean adoptees, actor and fellow adoptee Christopher Larkin will continue his role as the endearing delinquent, Monty Green, on the CW Network’s The 100. When KoreAm spoke with Larkin before the show premiered, he spoke passionately about representing Asian Americans on screen while trying to avoid stereotypical Asian roles. We’re glad that Larkin still has the chance to show us what he’s made of

The Mentalist: Surprise—Tim Kang is back as Special Agent Kimball Cho in another season of The Mentalist. Despite a series of low ratings in the sixth season, the CBS drama made the cut. Kang tweeted, “Thank you, everyone, for all your support! Seriously, couldn’t have gotten a Season 7 without you. Looking forward to it!!”

Grey’s Anatomy: There’s no rest for the weary: wrapping up its tenth season, the cast of Grey’s Anatomy will move on to its 11th season. Operations will resume at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital but without one pivotal character: Sandra Oh. Read all about Oh’s decision to move on from her groundbreaking role as Dr. Cristina Yang in the latest issue of KoreAm. And see her before she scrubs in for the final time—Oh’s final episode airs tomorrow.

There’s also some fresh meat coming in on the ABC network—John Cho will play an arrogant, successful marketing expert in his new sitcom Selfie. Rex Lee, who starred in Entourage and in the recently cancelled show Suburgatory, will explore a new role as a high-strung, metrosexual publicist in an upcoming comedy, Young & Hungry.

And last but not least—and at last!—ABC filled one more slot with an unprecedented sitcom that focuses on an Asian American family. Based on food personality Eddie Huang’s memoir, Fresh Off the Boat will feature Hudson Yang, Randall Park, and Constance Wu.


May Cover Story: Sandra Oh Opens Up About Her Decision to Leave ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

Oh, the Places She’ll Go
Sandra Oh makes the bold decision to depart Grey’s Anatomy. The actress opens up about her two decades long career,
 half of which was spent on the highly popular ABC medical drama, and the other bold chances she’s ready to take.

Photographs by LEVER RUKHIN

Do you know, by the time you’re reading this, that Sandra Oh’s run on the hit ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy has come to an end? That with the season 10 finale, which aired on May 15, you will no longer be able to watch fresh episodes that feature an ambitious, hard-driving surgeon named Cristina Yang glowing from the small screen? That there will be one less stereotype-defying character that a magazine like this one can cite as the type of representation we wish American television presented on a more regular basis?

Last summer, Sandra made the announcement that this would be her final year on what has proven to be a groundbreaking series, with its diverse casting and storylines. And as season 10 wound toward its conclusion, the producers of Grey’s Anatomy amped up the suspense as to just how Dr. Cristina Yang would no longer be running around Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. One episode that aired in late March put her future front and center, as it tinkered with the space-time continuum and posited different potential flash-for- wards for Dr. Yang’s life.

It also allowed Sandra to give at least one more bravura performance, as her character was tested with one of life’s quandaries: what comes first, career or love? What do you choose to be your life’s priorities? The title of that episode: “Do You Know?”

Do you know, if you were in a similar situation, what you would choose? Would you stay in a job that provided stability, accolades and tremendous perks (like hanging out with one of your favorite bands—in this case, Wilco—because the lead singer’s wife is a big fan of the show), or would you leave because you wanted to continue to challenge yourself and grow as an artist and person? Would you be willing to give up the $350,000 per episode that Sandra reportedly was earning (along with two other original co-stars, Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey)? With over 20 episodes a season, that’s turning away at least $7 million a year.

Our lives are defined by the choices we make. The problem is, of course, that we don’t know, that only hindsight is 20/20, and we have no idea how our decisions today will play out over the course of our lives.

“It’s taken me 20 years to realize that I was so lucky to get a huge demand of work at the very beginning of my career, and how that set the template for everything,” says a reflective Sandra, 42, armed with hindsight clarity of a now two-decades long acting career.

Sandra’s journey here—to this place where her departure from a show makes headlines and causes TV bloggers to speculate endlessly about how her beloved character will be written out of the show—is the product of a series of pivotal choices she made, long predating this latest high-profile judgment call.

A proud Canadian, by way of Ottawa, Sandra knew early on that she wanted to be an actor, the first spark being ballet lessons and a love of performing before an audience. Then, at age 8, she saw a touring show of Annie, and the torch was lit.

“I really remember it quite viscerally, being in like the nosebleed seats, and I’m seeing those kids perform on stage, saying, ‘Oh my god, what the f-ck is that?’” Sandra recalls, as we share a pizza at a Los Angeles cafe in late February. At a few points during our conversation, which spans a discussion about everything from favorite bands (Wilco is apparently the soundtrack of her early life in L.A.) to the importance of meditation, she squeals delightedly about the fact that there’s potato on her pizza.

“And then I started acting when I was about 10,” she continues. “And during that kind of transition-y time, I really wanted to be a dancer, but I wasn’t good enough to be a dancer.

“And you know, that time is when you audition for the professional schools, and, no, I wasn’t good [enough]. And so I started acting.”

From that point on, she would perform in school plays and join an improv team at her high school. Then, instead of matriculating into one of two colleges where she gained admission, the University of Toronto and Carleton University, she opted instead to attend the National Theatre School of Canada. Her first big project after graduating was the title role in The Diary of Evelyn Lau, a TV docudrama based on the writings of a 14-year-old runaway who gets involved with drugs and prostitution. Her performance would earn Sandra a slew of awards and acclaim in not only Canada but also France. It would also set off an impressive string of roles for the young actress, including the lead protagonist in Double Happiness, directed by Mina Shum—her performance as a non-filial Chinese Canadian would garner Sandra a Genie, the Canadian equivalent of an Oscar.

“Canada is much different than the United States,” notes Sandra, “because I never felt doors closed to me in Canada, as [in] who is the teller of the story. And I have felt it [in the U.S.]”

Sandra moved to Los Angeles in 1996, and despite some of those closed doors, managed in about six months time to land a role in Arli$$, an HBO series starring Robert Wuhl—not to mention a work permit (remember, she’s Canadian).

She played Rita Wu, the quirky assistant to sports agent Arliss Michaels, played by Wuhl, for seven seasons. There was also Sideways, the unexpected hit film that impacted America’s wine- drinking habits, co-written and directed by Sandra’s ex-husband, Alexander Payne. And, then, of course, came along a new medical drama called Grey’s Anatomy.

Grey’s Anatomy, it changed all of our lives,” says Sandra, referring to herself and the ensemble cast. “And it was an extremely stressful time. And
in those times, it’s very difficult to see what’s happening in the present moment. It’s only 10 years later when I get to say, ‘Oh, I remember the first year was so magical in a way.’ … And then it was like a rush for the next three or four years, until, quite honestly, the writers’ strike, and then we had a break. And then there was another section for the next few years, and now I feel like the past two years have been a section of time where it was like the end of work and the decision to leave.

“It’s like leaving a relationship in a really healthy way,” she says. “It’s like, ‘OK, I’m not growing in this relationship anymore. I love you, I know you love me, and I have to move on.’ … That’s the closest thing I can relate it to, you know, because it’s all about relationships.”

If Sandra sounds like a person who has been doing some deep self- reflection over the years, she has. She talks passionately about meditation, and how just sitting on a mat with other like-minded people who invite peace and gratitude into their lives have been so beneficial to her, as an artist and a spiritual person.

“I think that with time and introspection, when you’re taking time out to sit on a mat, you’re able to kind of forge a strong relationship with gratitude and purpose. But let me tell you, when I was in my 20s, I couldn’t see any- thing. I think it has to do with youth, as well, and I was just extremely driven. And it’s not driven by anything other than the need to act, you know? But I think that’s what time and particularly the experience of Grey’s Anatomy—basically having the safety of having a job, and being in a job for 10 years— [have changed].”

And that time and introspection led her to a place where she could comfortably say she was ready to leave the stability of this job that had won her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild statuettes, not to mention a legion of fans who embraced Cristina Yang’s fierce independence, sass and dry wit. A female character who didn’t feel the need to identify herself by the traditional tropes of wife and mother.

“All I can say when I made the decision, the feeling was,” Sandra says, then pauses a beat. “I’ve done my job. I have explored this character in every single direction, and now I need to grow. The reason I was able to come to that [decision] was because they wrote me such great stuff. And I feel like TV is where it’s at. Because, as an actor, you have the experience and the opportunity to fully flesh out a character.”

That kind of character development can’ t be accomplished in a two-hour movie, or even in a TV series that lasts a few seasons, she says. “My god, I got to have an experience that most actors never have.”


Growth as an artist and actor is obviously of monumental import to Sandra. Even with numerous movie credits and awards on her resume, she still takes acting classes. “One, I love it,” Sandra explains. “And two, I love it. I always want to grow.

“I feel like it’s not about producing, it’s not about getting better, it’s not about getting anything right. I’m at that place in my life where I’m not interested in that anymore. I’m interested more in the bigger mystery of it all, and how we can translate that to our work.”

She adds, “I’m a very process- oriented gal.”

Clearly, she is passionate about her craft, and that fuels a work ethic that her castmates admire.

“She’s very vigilant,” says Kevin McKidd, who has played her love interest Dr. Owen Hunt for the last few seasons. “Her scripts are completely covered in Post-It notes. It’s really inspiring to see a very established, confident actor very much engaged in the process.”

There are others, however, who choose to take advantage of Sandra’s fastidiousness.

“I make fun of how she keeps her scripts—so many Post-It notes! And I enjoy removing them!” says Chandra Wilson, another original cast member who plays Dr. Miranda Bailey, as well as prankster on the set.

“[Sandra] can’t stand it,” says Wilson, with a hearty laugh. “She always knows where to go, who did it.”

Wilson adds, “It’s all in good fun.” But she did refrain from teasing Sandra when shooting the “Do You Know?” episode; Wilson was its director.

“I was so incredibly honored to be entrusted with that responsibility,” Wilson says. So there was little time for her hijinks. “I didn’t make her break character. I was very good. I knew that it was really important to her, so I didn’t want to take that away. So we were good.”

When asked what she’ll miss about Sandra, Wilson replies, “We share our commitment not only to the product that we put out, but to the morale of production, to the morale of crew. We enjoy keeping that atmosphere up and lively and fun, and I think it’s because of our shared theater background.”

And she has no concerns regarding Sandra’s future. “Sandra, bless her heart, is an actress who has been fortunate enough to be on series television for almost 20 years, you know, because Arli$$ was on for seven seasons before Grey’s started. There’s all kinds of movie opportunities I know that are in her future. And television is always there,” says Wilson. “That’s kind of what you want at the end of the day, to be able to make choices as opposed to just having to take whatever you can just to work. That’s not the life she’s going to have to live, and that’s a nice position to be in.”

Sandra does have a few commitments post-Grey’s. She has a role in the upcoming summer film Tammy, to be released in early July. It’s a vehicle for Melissa McCarthy of Bridesmaids fame and The Heat, and in it Sandra is married to Kathy Bates. “We are in what I think is becoming a classic coupling—the gay couple are the normal, stable people in the world,” describes Sandra.

And after a short break from finishing Grey’s, Sandra will return to the theater, at Chicago’s Victory Gardens, and star in a production of Death and the Maiden that opens June 13. Written by Ariel Dorfman, it’s a play about torture and betrayal.

“[Sandra] read the play and fell in love with it,” says Chay Yew, Victory Gardens’ artistic director, as well as the director for Death and the Maiden. “She was a little, I would say, challenged by it, because it’s a very dark play. She said, ‘I need to do this.’ ”

Beyond that, there are no specific plans that Sandra offers up. But she does describe some types of characters that she wants to play. And, her choices, they just might raise a few eyebrows.

“I don’t mind playing the Korean prostitute, not at all,” says Sandra. Immigrant Korean shop owners and dry cleaners are also on that list.

“The next step for me is not about portraying how we’ re the same; it’ s about portraying our differences, exactly who we are,” she says.

This notion of our racial differences was one subject matter in which she thinks Grey’s Anatomy could have delved into more. “I will say, Grey’s Anatomy has never dealt with race. And that was up to [creator Shonda Rhimes].”

One of the reasons that the show is so admired is that it depicts a multicultural environment where the color of your skin or ethnicity is not a factor—it is the idealized post-racial society. But in a reality where race is still an issue and that it does indeed cause friction and animus, there is territory that Sandra thinks can be explored for dramatic and comedic purposes.

“It bummed me out because I feel like, this could be a great story idea, or even like a joke. But [Grey’s Anatomy’s producers] would not go for it, because it was a show choice.”

Photo courtesy of ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Photo courtesy of ABC/Danny Feld

So Sandra is choosing to venture into some uncharted territory on her own. She describes an audition— “one of my worst auditions ever, but not because I was bad”—where she based her performance on a Korean grocery owner she came across in New York City. “She was mean, super New York-y. And I thought, I want to play that woman one day,” says Sandra. “And I had an opportunity to fold that [store owner] into another character I was auditioning for. So I did it all, like hair and makeup—because she was kind of over the top—and I did it all in accent. And I think [the casting people] were horrified.”

The idea of the immigrant being distinct intrigues her. “When I felt like I was trying to introduce that as a possibility for a character, a possibility as a comedic character, I think it freaked people out. Because, first, I think, it came across as racist. I’m like, no, we’re just not ready for it yet. We’re not ready to actually play our own, with our familial accents, you know?

“It is so hard having characters with accents. We don’t pay attention to the fact that we’re around people who have accents all the time. And somehow it is rarely translated onto screen.”

For decades, it seems Asian American actors have fought for the opportunity to play people who, like themselves, are ethnically Asian but speak perfect English. This is the part of the story where I note the irony of someone who just finished playing for a decade the ideal of what an Asian American actor can portray might be suggesting we take a step back.

“It’s not regressive at all,” says Sandra, “because, I think creatively that [New York store owner’s] story has never been told, not properly. That’s the shift we need to make; that the story is about ourselves. … I feel like now I’m interested in telling the story about, you know, an aunt and uncle who opened up a dry cleaners store. We still need to move stuff ahead.”

And if anyone is to be at the forefront of doing that, playing the immigrant store owner in an authentic, non-stereo- typical way, it’s probably Sandra.

Despite being a self-identifying Canadian Korean, what she has accomplished over the last 20 years has elevated her, in many ways, to be a role model for many Korean Americans, and Asian Americans, in her field.

The playwright Chay Yew, who is Chinese American, puts it this way: “[Sandra] has done years of trailblazing work, and that’ s wonderful. We need more [Asian Americans] to do it as well.

“What we [need to] do as diverse Americans is to cultivate the next generation leaders of color, as well as women, who will be able to open more doors. And Sandra has been nothing but a great symbol of what is possible.”


This article was published in the May 2014 issue of KoreAm. Subscribe today! To purchase a single issue copy of the May issue, click the “Buy Now” button below. (U.S. customers only. Expect delivery in 5-7 business days).


Wednesday’s Link Attack: Obama May Return Ancient Korean Seals; Sandra Oh Prepares for ‘Grey’s’ Departure; Legal Experts Outraged by Comfort Women Suit

“Disgusting!,” Cry Legal Experts: Is This The Lowest A Top U.S. Law Firm Has Ever Stooped?

Would any self-respecting U.S. law firm represent a client who suggested the Jews deserved the Holocaust? Probably not. As a matter of honor, most law firms would run a mile, and even the least honorable would conclude that the damage to their reputation wasn’t worth it.

Where imperial Japan’s atrocities are concerned, however, at least one top U.S. law firm hasn’t been so choosy. In what is surely one of the most controversial civil suits ever filed in the United States, the Los Angeles office of Chicago-based Mayer Brown is trying to prove that the so-called comfort women – the sex slaves used by the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II – were no more than common prostitutes.


Obama may return ancient Korean seals on upcoming trip to Seoul
Yonhap News

The U.S. government may return a set of Korean national treasures, shipped out of the country by an American soldier during the Korean War, when President Barack Obama visits Seoul next week, diplomatic sources here said Monday.

“The two sides are in the final stage of consultations to complete relevant procedures,” a source said.

There is a possibility that the process will finish ahead of Obama’s departure for Asia next Tuesday, added the source.

Korean hair gripe goes to the top

North Korea’s displeasure at a poster in a hair salon that poked fun at their leader’s unusual hairstyle has reached the corridors of power in Whitehall.

The Foreign Office has confirmed it received a letter from the North Korean embassy earlier this week complaining about the picture of Kim Jong-un that was displayed in a London salon’s window emblazoned with the words “Bad Hair Day?”.

Mandarins received the letter earlier this week and are now considering a response, a spokesman said.

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Season 10 Spoilers: Sandra Oh Posts Photo From Last Scenes With Kevin McKidd

Goodbyes aren’t easy and that’s something Sandra Oh is making clear. As the actress prepares for her last season on Grey’s Anatomy, she’s been posting emotional posts on Twitter.

The 42-year-old uploaded a photo of herself along with co-star and on-screen lover Kevin McKidd with the caption, “shooting one of our last scenes,” and a sad face.

“My dearest partner in crime,” McKidd, who plays Owen Hunt, tweeted back. “It’s too much to take! What we gonna do?”


Korean-American Band Talk About Rise to Pop Charts
Chosun Ilbo

The debut album of Run River North, a band consisting of six second-generation Korean-Americans in Los Angeles, has made it to No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Alex Hwang spoke to the Chosun Ilbo by telephone on Tuesday morning in a mixture of Korean and English.

Run River North are currently on a U.S. tour, stopping in Washington. Another member, Jennifer Rim, who plays the violin, also was on the phone.

Wie ready for LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina

The LPGA Lotte Championship tees off Wednesday morning at Ko Olina Golf Club. The tournament marks a triumphant homecoming for 24-year-old Michelle Wie.

The Punahou graduate is off to her best start as a professional, recording six top-16 finishes to open the season, including a runner-up major finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship two weeks ago.

“I’ve just been working hard the last couple of years,” Wie told KHON2. “Obviously I went through quite a bit of a struggle, and I’ve just been trying to improve a little bit here and there every day, trying not to do anything too drastic. I’ve just been patient. A lot of times it was hard being patient. I knew it was getting better and better, it just wasn’t showing. I feel like I’m improving a little bit here and there which is good.”


ISU receives South Korea complaint over figure skating judging
NBC Olympics

South Korea has officially filed its complaint over figure skating judging at the Sochi Olympics to the International Skating Union, nearly two months after Yuna Kim won silver behind Russian Adelina Sotnikova in a controversial decision.

The Korea Skating Union (KSU) filed a complaint over the makeup of the judging panel for the women’s free skate rather than the results of the competition, according to Yonhap News, reporting that the KSU believes the panel’s composition was in violation of the ISU’s ethical rules.

One of the judges from Sochi is married to a top Russian figure skating federation official and was seen hugging Sotnikova shortly after she won gold. Another was suspended one year as being part of the 1998 Olympic ice dance fixing scandal.

Sneak a Peek at Beverly Kim and John Clark’s Parachute Opening Menu
Chicago Eater

When Beverly Kim and John Clark open Parachute (probably next month), expect a different take on Korean cuisine. Kim and Clark are terming their first restaurant “Korean-American,” fusing the textures and flavor profiles of traditional Korean cooking with creative ingredients available to modern restaurants in Chicago.

“I don’t want to compete with mom-and-pop Korean restaurants,” Kim says. “I definitely grew up with those dishes, those dishes excite me, but with our experiences we can put a twist on it that makes it approachable for non-Koreans and Koreans alike.”

“It might take some time for people to grasp that.”