We’re longtime fans of Sandra Oh – from Sideways to Grey’s Anatomy, she’s given some major scene-stealing performances over the years. Following the premiere of her new BBC show Killing Eve, we couldn’t resist sitting down with the actress to talk about everything from body image and beauty to acupuncture and her Korean roots. Read on for this inspiring interview…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I’m a real homebody so I’d say a morning pour over coffee (Heart is one of my faves) and avocado toast (have a tree in my backyard). For lunch, my mom’s Bin Dae Dukk, which is a type of Korean mung bean pancake filled with kimchi, pork, green onions and absolutely the food I’d choose if I were stuck on a desert island. Dinner would be something simple – a spatchcocked chicken, roasted asparagus and zucchini with side of pasta and big fat glass of wine (I think I’m actually going to cook that for dinner tonight).
How do you practice beauty from the inside out?
This is a multi-layered question. Physically, it’s all about gut health. If your gut is healthy, you’ll have less inflammation and be less depressed, which leads me to the second layer which is mental. That’s about loving yourself which is not always the easiest thing to do. It’s a practice and being kind in your mind and to your body. It doesn’t matter how “pretty” someone is, if they’re a pill to be around beauty is not present. From a practical, external beauty point of view, I try and go to the Korean spa regularly. Growing up, my mom scrubbed me with basically an SOS pad, but let me tell you it leaves you with soft skin. And being around the Korean ladies with all their different body shapes in a very relaxing atmosphere is good for the soul.
What was something you were insecure about growing up, and how did you get past it?
Growing up and until my gosh, early-mid 30s, I had terrible, terrible skin (on my face primarily). I was always suffering over my skin; it made me feel ugly and insecure. I have the triumvirate; eczema, asthma and allergies (auto-immune issues) and this caused inflammation to show up on my face. Into the 3rd season of Grey’s Anatomy, I was very sick with exhaustion and stress. My makeup artist could only put makeup on my face right before we shot, as my skin would be flaking off in chunks. He had to give notes to fix my skin in post. It was bad. Then I met my acupuncturist and she changed my life. This was not an overnight thing. I saw her regularly – sometimes twice a week – for two years. After four years, my whole being felt better, from the inside to out. No creams, no inhalers but from a cellular level my insides have changed and it’s reflected on my skin. I still see her.
What advice would you have for young women struggling with body image?
Focus on what makes you feel healthy and strong. Is it eating healthy? Is it overcoming your embarrassment and taking that hip hop booty shaking class (Yep, did it)? Is it carving out time for yourself to go on a walk and quiet your mind? Feeling healthy and strong are achievable in our daily life. This increases a positive feeling towards oneself which can help change a unwanted outlook.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received? The best?
The worst advice I ever received was from a powerful agent (who has since passed away), who I met probably the first two weeks I was here in LA. I was 23, I had a meeting with her and she told me to go back home (Canada) and get famous because she had nothing for me here. The one other Asian-American actress on her roster hadn’t auditioned in months and she wanted to “tell me the truth” – that it would be the same for me. At that point in my career I had already starred in a TV film, a indie feature and done A house theatre all in Canada. None of that seemed to have mattered. All that seemed to matter was my race and that it was the wrong one. I think about this now, how vulnerable I was, how deep the belief system is, and how long it took me to break out of it.
The Best? I’m going to say what my parents told me recently (actually like a week ago) which was, focus on your creative work. They also started it with “Hey, you’re no spring chicken anymore so you need to make best use of your time” – just think of that in Korean. This is fundamentally notable because it was difficult for my parents to accept my career choice at the beginning, so for them to keep me focused on it now is meaningful to me. And correct.
How did you prepare for the role of Eve on your new BBC America show, Killing Eve? How do you relate to your character?
I relate to Eve as a fellow woman in her midlife exploring the darkness and obsessions in her unconscious. My preparations entail going through the script and endowing each moment, each character with specificity and meaning for me.
What are your go-to workout routines?
I take pilates regularly and pair that with a type of tailored circuit training class at Dove’s Bodies. I’ve had the same trainer for over 20 years, Dove Rose (yes that’s her actual birth name). I also live near a canyon, so I like to get out there and hike when I can.
What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?
This is elaborate for me now. In the evening before bed, I’ll clean off my makeup with Neutrogena eye makeup remover (non-oil) then clean with Clarisonic and a gentle cleanser. I’ve just started using iS Clinical – the whole system – which I’m loving! I supplement/alternate with iGlow Illuminating C serum, Le Mieux hyaluronic/glycolic serums. I also love Caudalie Resveratrol Serum. But I supplement the whole regimen with LightStim. I do this regularly and it makes a real difference.
How do you stay fresh while traveling? What won’t you travel without?
Killing Eve is based in the UK so it’s a long haul from LA. I start with No Jet Lag homeopathic, lots of water and moisturizer for face/hands. I never travel without my journal.
If you could pick a quote to sum up your current mood and mode what would it be?
My quote of the past year or so has been: “The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.” – James Baldwin
If you could host a dinner party with any five people living or dead, who would be there and why?
Michelle Obama – no need to explain, Ghengis Khan – to talk about power, the Buddha – to help understand impermanence, Ted & Matt – my friends who are just the best at dinner parties because they’re deep conversationalists.
*Sandra Oh, photographed at La Pecora Bianca in New York, NY
Who would you still like to collaborate with?
I would like to collaborate with Thom Yorke, Ali Wong, Jane Campion, Phoebe Waller Bridge.
What foods do you love? Which do you avoid and why?
I love salty fried…I need to avoid salty fried. Seriously – it screws with my system. I avoid dairy and shellfish. My favorite foods though? Korean (but that’s a given) Spanish and Japanese are my faves.
What’s “the new potato” right now?
Koreans. I’m serious. Koreans are the shit now. In beauty, in tv dramas, in food. Korea is having a serious cultural impact right now.