The Sneaky Way Shonda Rhimes Helped Sandra Oh Nail Her ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Audition

Nerves happen. Seasoned actors with years of experience under their belts can be just as nervous during an audition as a newbie. Nerves almost got the best of Sandra Oh when she auditioned for a spot on Grey’s Anatomy (learn what line from the show meant the most to the actress) before the show premiere in March of 2005.

The 48-year-old actress, who is now a Golden Globe award-winner — she won for her performance in the BBC series, Killing Eve — once revealed during her audition to play Dr. Christina Yang, she felt nervous.

Shonda Rhimes, the show’s creator, head writer, executive producer and showrunner along with executive producer Betsy Beers, and director Peter Horton, helped Oh ace her audition by doing one simple thing: taking the pressure off. 

Sandra Oh on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy. | Scott Garfield/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Sandra Oh auditioned to play Bailey

Oh recalled what the audition process was like for her, which TV Guide included in an article about the cast’s audition stories in honor of Grey’s Anatomy hitting the 200-episode mark (no easy feat for any program on TV). 

First, Oh explained she initially auditioned to play the part of Miranda Bailey. She really went for it too. She dressed the part. 

“I … went in for Bailey. I actually had a pair of scrubs and had my hair in braids,” Oh said before adding she had trouble connecting with the character. “I played Bailey completely differently than Chandra Wilson did. The character of Bailey didn’t resonate with me,” she explained. 

Sandra Oh and Ellen Pompeo
Sandra Oh and Ellen Pompeo. | Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Instead of leaving the audition without a part, Oh asked what other roles were available. 

“I asked what else was available, and the part of Cristina was not yet cast,” she recalled. “It’s great — it’s an antagonist, you get a good sense of who she is, she’s very ambitious. I thought it would be great to play,” Oh added before saying she remembered meeting T.R. Knight aka George O’Malley when she auditioned. 

She felt nervous auditioning for the part of Christina

Then she provided details about how she got the part of Christina.

“I went there early because Shonda and Betsy and the director Peter Horton wanted me to be comfortable because they had never seen me do Cristina,” Oh said, adding that she ran through the scene multiple times.

 Oh then confessed she felt nervous.

“I was at first nervous, but they were like, ‘No worries, you’re good. You’ll audition for the studio later,’” she said referring to Rhimes, Beers, and Horton. So, she continued on with the audition and must’ve done well because she got the part. 

Sandra Oh on 'Grey's Anatomy'
Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy. | Eric McCandless/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

“I don’t know how many days later, they offered me the part. It was amazing. I auditioned for the right people,” she said. 

Oh continued, saying she admired the way they handled the audition. 

“I just thought they were so smart because I wasn’t thinking I was auditioning for them. I was just going to read the scenes a couple times for them feeling relaxed. But they saw what I was going to do with this character,” Oh explained. 

The rest is history. Oh went on to play Christina becoming Dr. Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) person. “I’m your person” is a phrase coined on the show relating to the deep bond of friendship between Meredith and Christina who were interns together at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. 

Season 10 marked the end of Grey’s Anatomy for Oh. She bid farewell to her character in 2014 and pursued other acting gigs. Fans were sad because Meredith and Christina’s friendship had played a major role in the show. But since she left her scrubs behind, Oh’s found incredible success on Killing Eve (learn how to watch Killing Eve). 

While Oh’s left Grey’s Anatomy, the long-running show continues and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. But that doesn’t mean fans don’t have theories about how the show will end.

Season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy premieres Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. EST on ABC. As for Killing Eve, a premiere date for Season 3 has yet to be announced.