Sandra Oh (‘Killing Eve’) on how ‘real change happens’ with industry diversity: ‘Please don’t write off my entire career’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“Only in really the past year for me, feeling as an Asian-American actor, do I actually feel change,” says Sandra Oh in her exclusive interview with Gold Derby ostensibly about “Killing Eve” (watch the video above). She continues, “I’ve also been in a long enough time that this is just a feeling I’m having. There is a difference between feeling (or people showing up on magazines) to then actually things being produced and then promoted and then it being received, because the whole development of storytelling, especially in different and diverse voices, has to be developed — that takes time.”

Oh is currently nominated at the Emmys in the Best Drama Actress category for playing Eve Polastri and in Best Drama Series as a “Killing Eve” executive producer. The contending third season of the spy thriller on BBC America marks Oh’s debut in the capacity after three decades in television. She explains after a deliberate pause about the pull that she has from the position, “The reason why a producer credit is important to me as an actor is the way that I choose now to write and work with writers. Writers are the creators of TV and I want to be able to continue an access and a certain voice in that room, so the creative arcs of things I’m able to have an influence with.” Oh adds about how this manifests during physical production, “To be able to come in and assure people that a creative tent-pole is holding firm — that’s the role that I’ve tried to play and I’ve really, really tried to develop.”

Oh expects that the next season will pick up the story after a time jump, with her character and Jodie Comer‘s Villanelle separated before routinely reuniting later in the season, although Oh has not read any scripts while quarantining in Vancouver. The virtual writers’ room recently came under fire when a tweeted screenshot revealed an all-white staff.

“I’m really happy to talk about it,” begins Oh before noting, “It’s been head by all female and young writers and I don’t ever want to lose sight of that.” Oh elaborates about the “multilayered” issue, “I understand, trust me: I understand people’s defense and people’s call for diversity to happen. I really, really do and you know I am there a thousand percent and it’s notable to see, twofold — the desire for people for change and to also the reality of what it is. As we all do, I wish for it, but it wasn’t the case.”

I am so happy that people are open for change and people are demanding change and wanting it and it’s just: Please understand for those of us who are in the trenches of it and are doing our best that (and I say this all the time) yes — and be patient. Not that things are not going on, but it’s really, really hard to change things. I’ve been trying to change things for a very, very long time and I feel I’m doing it organically in my own way here. I am speaking to you (when you get to ask me why I haven’t won after 12 Emmy nominations), but I then bring that experience to every set/project/writer and the change happens that way. The real change happens that way.

The real change is not going to happen because you stick a bunch of writers of color in a room that don’t have the power to change anything or who don’t have a relationship with the material, so then the higher-ups can check off a box because we have a diverse room. No, it’s not the same thing. I don’t think that when you start writing diverse stories that you write it or create shows in the same way that shows have been created. It’s not that. The conversations have to be different.

The support that the writers need to have to tell those stories in a cultural-specific way — they need support and then they need development and we, as audience members, have to be patient for that development process, not that it doesn’t happen, but for the bumps along the way. So let’s say you’re saying that this photograph that came out. That’s a bump along the way. That’s a bump, but don’t write it off. Please don’t write off my entire career of what I’ve had to do to get to this point to be able to share this show with you that because the room doesn’t reflect my face that it’s something to be cancelled. That’s also not mature or wise.

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