'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

  • Trump feted by Tony Orlando, Jackie Evancho at inauguration

    Entertainment CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Donald and Melania Trump were feted at their inaugural balls by the Rockettes and by singer Tony Orlando, who sang his famous "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree." Meanwhile, earlier in the day, it was 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho who had the spotlight, singing the national anthem in a soft, solemn voice. Source
  • Selena Gomez and The Weeknd spotted at impromptu John Mayer gig

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Selena Gomez and The Weeknd went public with their new romance in Silver Lake, California on Thursday night when they were spotted at the Tenant of the Trees club. The couple was spotted hugging and kissing outside a Santa Monica, California restaurant earlier this month, but they played it low-key on Thursday and were rarely caught together during the night out. Source
  • Jennifer Aniston eager to return to TV

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Jennifer Aniston is eager to return to TV, insisting she is ready to enter a new phase of her career. The actress starred on hit show Friends from 1994 to 2004, before becoming one of Hollywood’s top movie stars, but now the actress feels there is a lot of quality work on TV - and she is hoping to land a new show. Source
  • Jackie Evancho, Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform at inauguration, but A-listers gather at unofficial events

    Entertainment CBC News
    The new president called out "Great job, Jackie!" after 16-year-old Jackie Evancho delivered a soft-voiced rendition of the national anthem at Friday's swearing-in ceremony. INTERACTIVES | Donald Trump sworn in as president The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang America the Beautiful, and the Missouri State University Chorale sang Now We Belong, in a ceremony that featured decidedly less star power than in 2013. Source
  • Idina Menzel, Nia Long bring 'Beaches' remake to TV

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    PASADENA, Calif. — For Idina Menzel and Nia Long, director Garry Marshall’s 1988 melodrama “Beaches,” starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, is a four-hankie treat. So why do a remake? “Why not?” replied Long (“The Best Man Holiday”), pointing to the story’s timeless elements. Source
  • Rapper iLoveMakonnen comes out as gay

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Rapper iLoveMakonnen has come out as gay on social media. The hip-hop star, who used to be signed to Drake’s OVO Sound record label, took to Twitter in the early hours of Friday morning to confirm long-running rumours he is homosexual. Source
  • Al Gore stays mum on Trump meeting, says 'it's not the last'

    Entertainment CBC News
    Former Vice President Al Gore said that while he wouldn't divulge specifics about his December conversation with Donald Trump, it wasn't "the last conversation." Speaking to a packed auditorium in Park City following the premiere of the climate change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which kicked off the 33rd Sundance Film Festival Thursday, Gore said that he's seen a lot of people who started out as climate deniers change over time. Source
  • E-book publishers and Apple reach new deal with Competition Bureau over pricing

    Entertainment CBC News
    Three major book publishers have signed a deal with Canada's Competition Bureau that will allow retailers to sell those publishers' e-books at whatever price they want — something they couldn't do before. Holtzbrinck (which operates under the Macmillan brand name) along with Simon & Schuster and Hachette? have come to an agreement that could allow electronic book sellers such as Apple and Kobo to set the prices of books they sell by those publishing houses. Source
  • 'We make the terror'; On Inauguration Day, ’House of Cards’ announces May return

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — “House of Cards” will return in May for a fifth season. The show’s Twitter account posted a video on Inauguration Day featuring an upside-down U.S. flag in front of the U.S. Capitol. The video ends with the date May 30. Source
  • Animal treatment questions cancel 'A Dog's Purpose' premiere

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES - This weekend's premiere of "A Dog's Purpose" has been cancelled following the release of a video that appears to show a frightened dog being forced into churning water during production of the film. Source