“I learned that I had to take care of my health first. But that’s not only your body. That is your soul. That is definitely your mind,” Sandra Oh shared
Sandra Oh opened up about coping with illness and pain after her rise to fame as one of the stars of Grey’s Anatomy.
Oh played Dr. Cristina Yang on the ABC medical drama for 10 seasons and said her “life changed very much” after Grey’s Anatomy premiered in 2005.
“It’s tricky to imagine, because this is almost 20 years ago,” she told Squid Game star Jung Ho-yeon — who has also recently encountered sudden popularity and acclaim — during a chat for Variety’s Actors on Actors series.
Oh continued, “So the context is very different. But the stress is the same, or the confusion is the same … when people are in extremely amazing, privileged, heavy responsibility positions like this. Your personal health is, I think I realized, came first.”
The Emmy winner, 50, opened up about the impact instant fame had on health, admitting she did not feel well while filming the ABC medical drama which she departed in 2014.
“Honestly, I got sick. I think my whole body was very, very sick,” she explained. “Even though you keep on working, but it’s just like, ‘Oh, I can’t sleep. Oh, my back hurts, I don’t know what’s wrong with my skin.”
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Oh shared that she learned an important lesson from the experience about prioritizing her own health.
“I learned that I had to take care of my health first,” she said. “But that’s not only your body. That is your soul. That is definitely your mind. So even those things like doubt, question. ‘Cause you can’t, ultimately, depend on anyone else.”
She continued, “You have to somehow find it within yourself. You ask people’s opinions, yes of course, but ultimately, we are alone with ourselves.”
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In August 2021, Oh opened up about her experience becoming a household name after the success of Grey’s Anatomy.
“To be perfectly honest, it was traumatic,” she said on Sunday Today with Willie Geist. “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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Oh noted that she was able to cope with the sudden fame because she had a good therapist.
“I’m not joking. It’s very, very important,” she said of making time for mental health. “You just have to work at finding your way to stay grounded. And a lot of times that’s by saying no.”
In May 2021, Oh also shut down the possibility of reprising her beloved character on the hit series on the Los Angeles Times‘ podcast Asian Enough.
“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.”