'Grey's Anatomy' star Sandra Oh brings diversity debate to animation world

TORONTO -- Film and TV star Sandra Oh is bringing the diversity debate to the world of animation.

The former "Grey's Anatomy" star says race seems to have been a bigger factor in landing animated parts than her various film, TV or theatre gigs.

See Full Article

"I have been more and specifically typecast, if one can say that, in animation than in anything else," Oh said in a recent call from Los Angeles.

"All the characters I've played are specifically Asian. And I don't particularly think that I have a specifically Asian voice."

The Ottawa-bred Oh has lent her vocal talents to projects including "American Dad," "Phineas and Ferb," "American Dragon: Jake Long," and "Mulan 2."

She'll next be heard in the Canadian animated film, "Snowtime!," about a group of kids from a small village who embark on a massive snowball fight. It opens across Canada on Friday after pulling in more than $3 million at the Quebec box office.

Oh said she relished the chance to get to play a boy in the film -- a nerdy genius who builds an intricate snow fort at the centre of the battle.

Her character Frankie isn't obviously Asian, but his skin is slightly darker and his eyes appear slightly smaller than other characters.

Producer Marie-Claude Beauchamp acknowledged in an email that Frankie has some Asian traits, but said "being Asian had nothing to do with the decision to cast Sandra Oh in the role."

Without directly referring to her "Snowtime!" experience, Oh said she's always found it "very curious and annoying that I've been more racially typecast in animation."

"I remember one time -- this is years ago -- just going, 'Why am I only going out for the Asian animated character?' And then trying to kind of make headways into like, 'Oh, can I be the Barbie voice? And not Barbie's doctor or something like that?' But no."

Oh said she's heartened by the current diversity discussion surrounding the Academy Awards, which has the ignominious honour of celebrating all-white acting nominees for the second year in a row.

But the problem is really with the film studios, said Oh, an academy member whose big screen roles include "Sideways," "Rabbit Hole," "Tammy" and "Blindness."

"The academy is like the tip of the iceberg. If there's nothing to vote for, then there's no one to reward," she said.

"I'm very glad at how quickly the academy has moved on this and is trying to change, as they should. But a way bigger challenge, or battle, is to help change the entire Hollywood system."

When it comes to chasing roles, Oh said she picks her battles carefully. She's not interested in working with anyone who hasn't displayed a willingness to embrace diversity.

"There are plenty of places that I'm not interested in going into because what's the point, they're never going to hire me. Do you know what I mean?" she said, reviving long-standing complaints surrounding one Hollywood heavyweight.

"Do I ever expect to be in a Woody Allen film? No. Why? Because he doesn't hire people who are not white. So don't go down that alley."

Despite a relative dearth of non-white actors in his vast catalogue, Allen shot down accusations of racial bias in a 2014 interview saying he will "cast only what's right for the part."

Oh saluted her former "Grey's Anatomy" boss Shonda Rhimes for "moving the needle," but said the film and TV business was more welcoming in her homeland.

"If you wanted to tell a different story about different people I think that you have a better chance at telling that story in Canada than you do in the United States."



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Baby Groot the star of 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2' trailer

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    While Chris Pratt will undeniably be the star of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, it's Baby Groot that takes centre stage in the new teaser trailer for the film. Released Saturday, the trailer starts with a visual of a giant space octopus-like creature with a fangy serpentine mouth screaming as we hear Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) say in voiceover, "the fate of the universe lies on your shoulders. Source
  • 'Ghostbusters' librarian Alice Drummond dead at 88

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Alice Drummond, famous for her role as the librarian in Ghostbusters, has died at the age of 88. The character actress, who also starred in several U.S. soap operas and was a regular on Broadway during the 1960s and 1970s, died on Wednesday, her friend confirmed to The New York Times. Source
  • Jennifer Lawrence admits her butt almost killed a man once

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jennifer Lawrence confessed to almost killing a sound guy with her bottom on the set of The Hunger Games. The 26-year-old shared the unusual story while on The Graham Norton Show on Friday, alongside her Passengers co-star Chris Pratt and British chef Jamie Oliver. Source
  • Is Harry Potter set to play on Broadway?

    Entertainment CTV News
    The Lyric theatre (formerly known as the Foxwoods Theatre) has been identified as the best venue on Broadway for the play that is set in the world of Harry Potter but nearly two decades after the final Harry Potter novel ends. Source
  • Teyana Taylor advises mentor Kanye on recovery: 'Take your time'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Teyana Taylor has some practical advice for her mentor Kanye West. The singer-dancer, who has performed with the Grammy-winning artist, wants him to take his time recovering. "Take however much time you need, you know. Source
  • Beyonce speaks directly to one woman's experiences with love

    Entertainment CBC News
    more stories from this episodeBeyonce speaks directly to one woman's experiences with love'It was like a bomb labelled 'affair' dropped on my marriage'Why one man stayed with his wife after she cheated on him. Source
  • Disney teases 28 minutes of 'Star Wars' spinoff 'Rogue One'

    Entertainment CTV News
    MARIN, Calif. -- The secretive "Star Wars" spinoff movie "Rogue One" just got a little more tangible. Disney and Lucasfilm unveiled 28 minutes of footage for reporters on Friday at Skywalker Ranch, teasing the origin story of the band of rebels who aim to steal the plans for the Death Star -- the event that sets into motion the plot of the original 1977 "Star Wars. Source
  • On new album, John Legend considers love and darkness

    Entertainment CTV News
    John Legend has become known as a modern master of the ballad, probing the emotional depths behind love and discovering the darkness that lurks nearby. Releasing his fifth studio album on Friday, Legend stretches into new musical territory as he subtly broadens his conception of ballads, injecting elements of funk and rap. Source
  • Gifts you can smuggle under the tree for every Star Wars fan

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    When I was a but a youngling, my parents searched far and wide to find me a Kenner X-Wing fighter for Christmas. It had wings that would pop open by pressing on R2-D2’s head, it made laser blast sounds at the touch of a button, and my Luke Skywalker action figure fit perfectly in the cockpit. Source
  • Holiday gift guide: The best picks for book lovers [Photos]

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    There’s something about the heft of a book in your hand that is celebratory and delicious. You know you’re going to open that book and fall into a different world. Here are some books that would make great Christmas gifts: Source