Sandra Oh Saw a Therapist to 'Stay Grounded' During 'Traumatic' Rise to Fame on Grey's Anatomy
Over the weekend, the 50-year-old actress appeared on Sunday Today with Willie Geist and opened up about her "traumatic" experience becoming a household name after the success of the ABC medical drama.
Oh played Dr. Cristina Yang for the first 10 seasons of Grey's before announcing her departure in 2013. The performance earned her her first Golden Globe, as well as five Emmy nominations. Despite the success of the ABC series, which launched her to critical acclaim, the actress told Geist the sudden fame was definitely an adjustment.
"To be perfectly honest, it was traumatic," Oh said. "The reason why I'm saying that is the circumstances you need to do your work is with a lot of privacy."
She continued, "So when one loses one's anonymity, you have to build skills to still try and be real. I went from not being able to go out, like hiding in restaurants, to then being able to manage attention, manage expectation, while not losing the sense of self."
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The actress then shared that she was able to cope with the fame and new lifestyle because she had a good therapist.
"I'm not joking. It's very, very important," she said about dealing with her mental health. "You just have to work at finding your way to stay grounded. And a lot of times that's by saying no."
Oh left Grey's Anatomy seven years ago and fans have been hoping she might make a return to the series one day as season 17 of the medical drama welcomed back a number of former stars. Among those that returned were Patrick Dempsey as Derek Shepherd, T.R. Knight as George O'Malley, Chyler Leigh as Lexie Grey, Eric Dane as Mark Sloan, and Sarah Drew as April Kepner.
However, in May, Oh shut down the possibility of reprising her role as Cristina Yang, noting on the Los Angeles Times' podcast Asian Enough that she has "moved on."
"It's very rare, I would say, to be able to see in such a way the impact of a character. In some ways, you do your work as a bubble and you let it go," she said at the time. "I left that show, my God, seven years ago almost. So in my mind, it's gone. But for a lot of people, it's still very much alive. And while I understand and I love it, I have moved on."
"I love it, though," she added. "And this is also why I really appreciate the show … that I still get asked this."
Since her exit, Oh has moved on with other projects, including the hit series Killing Eve, which will return for a fourth and final season next year, and Netflix's latest series The Chair. She encouraged fans to follow along as she advocates for more representation of the Asian American community.
"Please come with me to Killing Eve and on to The Chair and on to the other projects," Oh said on Asian Enough. "Come see the characters that I'm playing that are much more deeply integrated in … the Asian American experience."