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The Chair's Sandra Oh Calls Working On Grey’s Anatomy ‘Traumatic,’ But She Has A Reason

Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim seeing her name on her door for the first time after taking the position of English chair in The Chair

Years after Sandra Oh departed from Grey’s Anatomy, viewers are still waiting for her character Dr. Christina Yang to return at some point. That comeback may or may never happen thanks to Oh and her busy schedule leading two different TV shows, Killing Eve and The Chair. While Oh cherished her time as the beloved Grey’s Anatomy character, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for the star, especially in the beginning. She even went as far as to say her time of the long-running drama was “traumatic,” though Oh had an apparent reason for using such terminology to describe her tenure on the show.

For millions of viewers, Sandra Oh will always be viewed as a gift for bringing Christina Yang to life, no matter how long it’s been since the actress left the show. But keeping up with a main character on such a beloved and monumental drama like Grey’s Anatomy could be both a gift and a curse to the actress. Using the word “traumatic” may seem dramatic, but the actress wasn’t too far off in her description to NBC’s Today, in which the Killing Eve star said this about the intense fame that quickly came from being showcased on the long-running ABC drama:

To be perfectly honest, it was traumatic. It was traumatic. And the reason why I’m saying that is the circumstances you need to do your work is a lot of privacy. 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, hiding in restaurants, to then being able to manage attention, manage expectation without losing your sense of self.

Sandra Oh’s cautionary tales from her journey with fame could be useful for any young performers coming up in Hollywood. While her role in the Oscar-winning film Sideways put her on Hollywood’s radar, playing Christina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy made her a household name in the U.S. and around the world. Of course, someone being on viewers' TV screens on weekly basis automatically boosts their star value, which can making things pretty overwhelming for celebrities who aren't used to massive amounts of attention on a daily basis. That seemed to be what Oh was experiencing during her run on the ABC drama. Luckily, she was able to find a nice middle ground.

As Sandra Oh pointed out, losing one’s anonymity can be detrimental to their craft. During her 10-season run on Grey’s Anatomy, Oh was part of one of TV's biggest dramas opposite Ellen Pomeo and others, which no doubt expanded her fanbase exponentially and brought on all kinds of excess attention, which presumably led to an immense amount of pressure and intrusiveness on Oh’s part. Thankfully, The Chair star fought through her obstacles, found a returned sense of inner peace after exiting Grey's Anatomy, and later become the central character in two acclaimed series.

While the Killing Eve star appears to be soaring right now in genre-bending projects, Sandra Oh did give some insight into how she coped with the intense spotlight from Grey’s Anatomy. During her interview, she openly joked about seeing a therapist to deal with the spotlight, and then immediately circled back to reflect on how her time in therapy did indeed help her to understand fame and success more clearly.

Thankfully, Sandra Oh learned how to cope with the Hollywood machine and the side effects of being so talented in such a highly competitive field. While fans debate over whether Christina Yang's return to Grey’s Anatomy will ever happen or not, there’s more Oh for viewers to see on television. Currently, the actress is working on the fourth and final season of BBC America’s Killing Eve, and viewers can watch Oh playing a troubled college professor in Netflix’s The Chair. (Not to mention all the big shows hitting the 2021 Fall TV schedule soon.)

Adreon Patterson

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).