Grey’s Anatomy became the biggest medical drama since ER when it premiered in 2005. People couldn’t stop talking about it, tuning in to bawl their eyes out over the latest melodramatic episode—and the show is still somehow going strong today. But turns out that being on one of TV’s biggest shows wasn’t as fun as some may think. Sandra Oh—who left the show in 2014—opens up about the difficulties of Grey’s success and her subsequent rise to fame during a recent appearance on the latest segment of Sunday Today With Willie Geist.
Before Grey’s, Oh’s biggest role was in Oscar-winning Sideways, starring as wine pourer Stephanie. The year after the hit indie film came out, Oh received her first TV starring role as Cristina Yang. When Geist asks what dealing with that immense fame was like, Oh doesn’t hold back. “To be perfectly honest, it was traumatic,” she says. “The reason why I’m saying that is the circumstances you need to do your work is with a lot of privacy. 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, hiding in restaurants, to then being able to manage attention, manage expectation, while not losing the sense of self.”
Oh credits her “good therapist” for helping her navigate the fame and her loss of “anonymity.” She also adds, “I’m not joking, it’s very, very important. You just have to work at finding your way to stay grounded. And a lot of times it’s by saying no.” And it looks like a lot has improved in Oh’s way of handling fame. Since leaving Grey’s, Oh’s found success with another hit TV series: Killing Eve, that also has a fervent fanbase. She’s also the star of Netflix’s limited series The Chair, where she plays Ji-Yoon Kim, a professor who becomes the first woman of color appointed as the chair of the English department at the fictional Pembroke University.