Celebrating Sandra Oh's Most Iconic Roles as She's Named One of PEOPLE's 2021 People of the Year

This history-making Golden Globe award-winning actress has been on screen and in our lives for more than 20 years 

01 of 15

Arli$$ (1996-2002)

sandra oh iconic roles
Andrew Eccles/Rysher/Kobal/Shutterstock

Korean Canadian actress Sandra Oh — one of PEOPLE's 2021 People of the Year — began her career back in the '90s, acting in shorts, TV movies and series. Before playing small parts on shows like Cousin Skeeter in 1998 and Further Tales of the City in 2001, Oh landed the role of Rita Wu on the sports comedy Arli$$, starring Robert Wuhl, Jim Turner and Michael Boatman. Oh played Wu, sport agency president Arliss Michaels' trusty assistant, who brought the funny in every laugh-out-loud episode.

02 of 15

The Princess Diaries (2001)

sandra oh iconic roles
disney

Fans got to see more of her comedic genius as Vice Principal Gupta in the classic film Princess Diaries. Oh delivered one of the most famous lines from the 2001 flick starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews — "The queen is coming ... to Grove High School" — and left audiences giggling as she tried to mimic her highness, Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Andrews).

03 of 15

The Proud Family (2001-2002)

sandra oh iconic roles
the disney channel

Did you realize that the award-winning actress also voiced many famous characters from your childhood? If you're a child of the '00s, you'll be delighted to learn that Oh played the role of reporter Marsha Mitsubishi in Disney's The Proud Family, which starred Kyla Pratt as Penny Proud and Tommy Davidson as Oscar Proud.

04 of 15

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)

sandra oh iconic roles
Touchstone/Kobal/Shutterstock

In the 2003 romcom starring Diane Lane, Oh played Patti, Lane's character's best friend who encourages her to take a trip to Tuscany to get away as she deals with the fallout from her cheating husband.

05 of 15

Grey's Anatomy (2005-2014)

Grey's Anatomy
FRANK OCKENFELS/ABC

Her most famous and beloved role is none other than that of Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy. After shooting more than 200 episodes as Yang, Oh officially said goodbye to the show at season 10, and has remained one of the most loved characters from the long-running series.

At the time of her departure, Oh said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the cast and crew had surprised her with her very first call sheet from the pilot episode and her very last.

"I came apart because I saw everyone was in one room," she told the outlet.

She added, "In that moment, it felt like one of those scenes where you're spinning the camera around the actor because I'm standing in the lobby and I'm turning around and seeing the set filled with people I've worked with for a decade. It was that moment where I realized I could publicly thank every single person for this experience."

The show went on to win multiple Emmys, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes, and Oh would win her first Golden Globe award in 2006 for best performance by an actress in a supporting role.

06 of 15

American Dad! (2005-2013)

sandra oh iconic roles
fox

Around the same time Oh was filming Grey's, she was also voicing the characters Hiko Yoshida, Mrs. Yoshida and Katie on American Dad!.

07 of 15

American Dragon: Jake Long (2006-2007)

sandra oh iconic roles
the disney channel

Home economics teacher turned Korean dragon Sun Park was voiced by Oh on the animated series American Dragon: Jake Long.

08 of 15

Ramona and Beezus (2010)

sandra oh iconic roles
courtesy Everett Collection

Director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum brought the childhood classic book series by Beverly Cleary to the silver screen and Oh was cast to play Ramona Quimby's (played by Joey King) teacher Mrs. Meacham. Beezus was played by Selena Gomez and Ginnifer Goodwin took on Aunt Bea.

09 of 15

Meditation Park (2017)

sandra oh iconic roles
courtesy tiff

When it comes to special actor-director relationships, director Mina Shum and Oh have collaborated for more than 20 years, and Meditation Park was their third film together. The first was 1997's Double Happiness, in which Oh played Jade Li, a young Chinese Canadian woman trying to navigate her two different cultures, and 2002's Long Life, Happiness & Prosperity, in which she portrayed Kin Ho Lum, a struggling yet loving single mom to a curious and eccentric 12-year-old daughter named Mindy.

Meditation Park featured Oh as Ava, whose mom Maria Wang (played by Cheng Pei-pei) learned that her husband, Ava's dad (played by Tzi Ma), cheated on her. Shaken by the discovery, devoted mom and housewife Maria decides to reassess her life and put herself first.

10 of 15

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018-2020)

sandra oh iconic roles
dreamworks

Oh voiced Castaspella, the head sorceress of the Kingdom Mystacor, in the animated TV series, which also starred Aimee Carrero, Marcus Scribner and Karen Fukuhara.

11 of 15

Killing Eve (2018-2022)

killing-eve.jpeg
Everett.

Oh and costar Jodie Comer face off as Eve Polastri and Villanelle in the BBC spy thriller Killing Eve. The leading actress' work on the show earned her an Emmy nomination for best actress, making her the first Asian woman in Emmy history to receive the honor. The fourth and final season has just wrapped and will be released in 2022.

12 of 15

Over the Moon (2020)

sandra oh iconic roles
Netflix

As Mrs. Zhong, Oh was able to reunite with director, writer and friend Audrey Wells to help share the story of Fei Fei, a young girl who tried to build a rocket to meet a mythical moon goddess. The two had previously worked together on films Guinevere (1999) and Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) before coming together to celebrate Asian culture in Wells' latest project. Mrs. Zhong was Fei Fei's stepmom, a refreshing character who opens up a different type of family dynamic when it comes to seeing Asian families on screen.

"The storytelling is changing," Oh said during an interview with the Associated Press. "Mrs. Zhong fulfills a couple of different roles. One being in some ways the foil or the obstacle for the main character of Fei Fei because she doesn't want her life to change. That's one of the lessons of the film. And the second part is, is the normalization — and particularly in the Asian community — of blended family."

She continued: "We don't really talk about it that much and we don't really see it ... I was really happy with that. It's not an evil stepmother trope. It's actually, the reality of a blended family in different cultures exists, so let's see it."

13 of 15

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

sandra oh iconic roles
disney.

The Canadian actress continued her streak of voicing badass animated characters with the role of Virana, chief of Fang Lang, in Raya and the Last Dragon.

14 of 15

Invincible (2021-2022)

Invincible as Debbie Grayson
amazon

She also voices Debbie Grayson, wife of Omni-Man (voiced by J.K. Simmons) and mother of Mark Grayson (voiced by Steven Yeun), on Amazon's Invincible.

15 of 15

The Chair (2021)

sandra oh iconic roles
Courtesy Everett Collection

Oh's most recent project has her playing Professor Ji-yoon Kim, the first person of color to run a floundering English department at a prestigious university in Netflix's The Chair. The star was praised for her work by New Yorker writer Hua Hsu, who said in his review of the series that Oh is "what makes 'The Chair' worth watching." The show was also called "Netflix's best drama in years" by Atlantic writer Sophie Gilbert.

Next up for Oh? Voicing Ming in Disney and Pixar's Turning Red (2022) and executive producing and starring in the upcoming horror film Umma (2022).

Related Articles