Sandra Oh Just Made History As First-Ever Asian Woman Nominated For Lead-Actress Emmy

The Television Academy announced its nominees for the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Thursday morning, and Sandra Oh made history as the first-ever Asian woman to be nominated for a lead-actress Emmy.

Oh was nominated for her role as Eve Polastri, an M15 officer who becomes obsessed with a merciless hit woman, on the BBC America series Killing Eve.

Oh has been recognized by the Academy before, with five supporting-actress nominations for her role on Grey’s Anatomy, but never won, Vanity Fair reports.

But this nomination marks a big moment for Asian-American actors. Asian actors typically receive little recognition at award shows, including the Emmys, and are heavily marginalized, as roles designed for Asian actors are typically whitewashed on screen.

The Killing Eve actress sat down with The New York Times to talk about her historic nomination, saying that she wants to “celebrate” her nomination because “we’ve got to start somewhere” for more Asian representation in Hollywood.

“I’m happy to get that ball rolling, because what I hope happens is that next year and the next year and the next year, we will have presence,” Oh said. “And the presence will grow not only to Asian-Americans, you know, from yellow to brown, but to all our other sisters and brothers. Our First Nations sisters and brothers. Our sisters and brothers of different sizes and different shapes.”

Oh added that if she “can be a part of that change,” she’s all for celebrating her nomination.

The Emmy-nominated actress also talked about now being nominated for the lead role versus the best friend (like on Grey’s Anatomy), saying that she takes it “extremely seriously,” adding that “there just aren’t yet a lot of varieties of images that [the] community can pull from.”

“I am absolutely aware of the significance and take it very seriously because we need it. Not only just for my community — and hopefully what that means to be represented and seen — but also for culture. We’re a part of it. Let us not only see ourselves, but let others see us,” Oh told the Times.

Oh discussed how change, especially in the industry, is slow, and while the tide has not completely changed, she feels that people are more open and willing to listen now.

The actress said that we need to be patient, but also “be relentless about making the change happen.”

Congratulations to Oh on her historic nomination, and like Oh said, hopefully this gets the ball rolling so that each year Asian actors will continuously have a larger presence in the industry and at award shows, like the Emmys.

Emily Veith is a recent Cal Poly SLO graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Political Science (and a Law and Society minor). Emily loves writing and talking about politics. She has worked on political campaigns and in legislative offices, and aspires to be a politician someday. Emily has also written numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. She is an old soul who loves Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Glenn Miller. When she isn't writing about imperative news- and political-related topics, she can be found attempting new recipes, playing her guitar, or reading a good mystery book. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.

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