Sandra Oh, born in Ottawa and raised in Nepean, Ontario, started her acting career at the age of 10 on the insistence of her sister to audition for The Canada Goose. She realized then that her dreams of becoming a ballet dancer were over because she found her calling and she hasn't looked back since. She fell in love with improv and the Canadian Improv Games during high school and became a part of their student theatre company, Skit Row High, performing at the National Arts Centre and the Great Canadian Theatre Company. She began acting professionally at age
15 in television, theatre and industrials and went on to the prestigious National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal. "It was the beginning of everything," she recalls of the famous acting training ground.
Oh's first significant break came when she landed the coveted title role of teenage runaway, prostitute and drug-addicted poet in The Diary of Evelyn Lau for the CBC, based on the true story of Canadian poet Evelyn Lau. Oh won the part over 1,000 other hopefuls, and her gritty performance earned her a Gemini nomination for Best Actress, as well as the 1994 Cannes FIPA d'Or for Best Actress.
Oh became more widely known in Canada for her lead performance in the Canadian film Double Happiness (1994), a coming-of-age tale for which she won the Genie Award for Best Actress. Her other Canadian films include The Red Violin (1998), Last Night (1998) for which she won her second Best Actress Genie, Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity (2002) and Defendor (2009).
Oh moved to Hollywood in 1996 to begin the first of seven seasons as Rita Wu, the sassy sports agent's assistant on the HBO series Arli$$, for which she won a CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Comedy. Never far from her dramatic side, she also starred in Dancing at the Blue Iguana (2000), a bleak film about life in an LA strip club. This won her the Best Performance Award at the Milan Film Festival in 2001. Oh's star continued to rise with the release of the Oscar-winning Sideways (2004), in which she played Stephanie and went on to win a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
But it's her role as Cristina Yang on ABC's long-standing hit Grey's Anatomy that truly changed her life. With a Golden Globe Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and no less than five Emmy nominations, it's the role of the "emotionally stunted, unapologetically ambitious and aggressively self-serving" surgeon that she is most widely known for.
And although she can be seen in various award-winning feature films and television series, including last year's searing drama Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman, Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, HBO's Six Feet Under, the upcoming Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays on CBC and in the coveted role of Cookie Monster's Fairy Cookie Person on Sesame Street, Oh never strays far from her theatrical roots with performances in Oleanna, The House of Bernarda Alba, Dogeaters, Stop Kiss and Satellites. Oh continues to expand her acting talents, lending her voice to the animated projects Mulan II, The Land Before Time XIII: Wisdom of Friends, American Dad! and to the award-nominated radio play The Maltese Falcon.