"No," Oh said on Tuesday's season premiere of the Los Angeles Times's Asian Enough podcast. "I love it, though, and this is also why I really appreciate the show … that I still get asked this."
Oh, who played Dr. Cristina Yang, the brilliant and ambitious best friend of Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), was part of the cast when it debuted in 2005. She left the Shonda Rhimes medical drama in 2014, as Yang left the hospital for a top job in Switzerland. But the phenomenally successful show has continued, and it's currently in its 17th season on ABC.
Besides the fact that Yang is still alive — unlike many other characters — Grey's audiences have been primed for her return, because other departed characters, including Patrick Dempsey's Dr. Derek Shepherd, have come back to visit Grey on recent episodes while she was in a coma.
"It's very rare, I would say, to be able to see in such a way the impact of a character," said Oh, who won a Golden Globe for performance in 2006. "In some ways, you do your work as a bubble and you let it go. I left that show, my God, seven years ago almost. So in my mind, it's gone. But for a lot of people, it's still very much alive. And while I understand and I love it, I have moved on."
She asked that fans now catch her elsewhere.
"So please come with me to Killing Eve and on to [the upcoming Netflix series] The Chair and on to the other projects," said Oh, who also won a Golden Globe for the former. "Come see the characters that I'm playing that are much more deeply integrated in … the Asian American experience."
Looking back on her time at the hospital, Oh remembered that there was a moment when she "wanted to do this really good joke" with another former Grey's actress, Sara Ramirez, who played Dr. Callie Torres. It didn't happen, because the show tended to avoid talking about race back then, she said.
"Cristina was ambitious and just trying to get ahead, right? So she was just kind of trying to pull the like, you know, the POC [person of color] card with Dr. Torres," she explained. "But it wasn't the time. It just wasn't the time, and it wasn't the part of the show. So it wasn't anything that I actually focused on."
In 2021, Oh theorized, Yang would be just as headstrong as ever, for the benefit of society.
"Cristina, like I imagine all the health care workers, [would be] wickedly at the frontline trying to solve the big problems," Oh said. "This pandemic [has made] the wealth gaps … even more obvious and problematic, so [she] probably [is] attacking the systematic problems, not just the day in and day out."
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