Sandra Oh Rejected a 4-Year Journalism Scholarship Against Her Parents’ Wishes

Sandra Oh has received international acclaim for her versatility and seemingly effortless ability to portray any role. Born in Canada in 1971, Oh has been in the entertainment industry since the early ’90s, finally achieving fame in the early 2000s as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy. While many pop culture fans might not be able to picture the television world without Oh’s influence, the actor very nearly pursued a different career entirely. In fact, her parents encouraged her to tackle a career that would have more “meaning” than a role in the entertainment space — but Sandra Oh turned down a four-year journalism scholarship against their wishes.

Sandra Oh is well known for both television and film roles

'Grey's Anatomy' star Sandra Oh wearing a white dress. Her hair is curled and she's smiling. The background behind her is blurred.
‘Grey’s Anatomy’ star Sandra Oh | Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

Oh was raised in Ontario and got her start in acting on stage, appearing in a variety of student productions. She was a multi-talented student in high school, playing the flute and getting actively involved in student government. After school, she focused hard on her acting ambitions, and by the early ’90s, she had started to land roles in Canadian-Asian films such as Double Happiness and The Diary of Evelyn Lau

It didn’t take long before Oh made the jump to Hollywood, and over the years that followed, she appeared in high-profile movies such as The Princess Diaries, Sideways, Under the Tuscan Sun, Tammy, and Hard Candy.

It was in television, however, that Oh really made her mark. In 2005, she was cast as Cristina Yang in the hit show Grey’s Anatomy. She went on to act on the show until 2014, and to this day, she is probably best known for her work on the ABC drama series. Oh has won several awards over the course of her career, including two Golden Globe Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards — most of which she earned thanks to her work on Grey’s Anatomy.

Sandra Oh rejected a four-year journalism scholarship

While Oh has won acclaim for her work in entertainment, her parents were not very supportive of her desire to become an actor at the beginning of her career — especially when it meant turning down a four-year academic scholarship to study journalism.

“They didn’t see that there was any meaning to being an actor,” Oh said of her parents’ reaction when she told them that she wanted to attend drama school instead. “It was like, ‘What are you doing for society? Are you being a good Christian?’ They were classic immigrants — they wanted their children to become doctors or lawyers.”

What would Sandra Oh be doing if she wasn’t acting?

Even though Oh became wildly successful as an actress, she never forgot where she came from, and how hard she has worked to get where she is. Additionally, Oh still thinks about the other career that she left behind, admitting in a recent Netflix interview that if she wasn’t acting, she would “probably be a journalist.” She also joked that she might also be a florist, if the journalism thing didn’t work out.

Oh also maintains a close relationship with her parents, saying that she calls them at least every week, even if there’s nothing outstanding to talk about. These days, Oh is still working hard at her craft, acting and directing one of the hottest new Netflix originals, The Chair. Even at the age of 50, Oh is open to new challenges and proving that she has many surprises left.

Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for all the latest entertainment news!

RELATED: Sandra Oh Still Has the Prop She Stole From the ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Set