Sandra Oh opens up about lack of diversity on Killing Eve set

In an interview with Kerry Washington in Variety magazine’s Actors on Actors series, Sandra Oh expressed her experience with a lack of diversity in British television.

Oh described being on set for Killing Eve in which she plays the lead role, saying “being the sole Asian person is a very familiar place for me”.

“The UK, I’m not afraid to say, is behind. [It’s] very exciting when someone comes on set.”

Oh says the development of people behind the camera is very slow in the UK. “Sometimes it would be me and 75 white people and I have not come from that,” she said.

She explained that filming for Killing Eve in the UK made her more aware of the differences and revealed why she wants to talk about it publicly now.

“I’ve got to tell you. Even more than that, I think being the only American on that set [for Killing Eve], in Europe, informed me more than the physicality. I’ve not even really talked about this, but there is something about constantly feeling like the observer or the outsider.”

Oh talked about her experience playing Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy in the role that propelled her into stardom. She says race was not talked about and was never incorporated into the story, which is what makes her so passionate to focus on diversity today.

“When we did Grey’s, for at least the first 10 seasons we would not talk about race. We would not go into race, and that was purposeful. And, whatever, it was the right thing to do when it was. In Season 3, Burke and Cristina were getting married and there were the two mothers, the Asian mother and the Black mother, and I’m like, ‘Come on, there is a lot of story that we can do here!’ But they didn’t want to touch it, for whatever reason. Now my interest is much more in bringing that story in.”

She explained that there is a stark difference between diversity in the US and the UK.

“I have not come from that in my film career, which has been much more independent, mostly working with women and women of colour. And my relationship with television – and in the United States – hasn’t necessarily been all white,” she said.

Oh’s comments reiterate those made by director Steve McQueen who recently expressed his own thoughts about diversity in British television, saying “UK TV and film industries need to challenge their own blatant racism”.

He explained being on set in the UK was hard, describing it as “shameful”.

“Last year, I visited a TV-film set in London, and it felt like I had walked out of one environment, the London I was surrounded by, into another, a place that was alien to me… The UK is so far behind in terms of representation, it’s shameful,” he said.

“The stark reality is that there is no infrastructure to support and hire BAME crew. And there is no infrastructure because there hasn’t been enough will or urgency to put it in place.”

It is not the first time the lack of diversity in Killing Eve has been addressed. 

Questions were raised by the public after one of the series’ writers, Kayleigh Llewellyn recently posted a picture of the team who wrote the latest series in a Zoom meeting on Twitter. 

The photo shows nine writers, all of which were white. This went viral as viewers questioned why there was no diversity in the writing team.

“With Sandra Oh literally making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win multiple Golden Globes and they can’t hire one non-white person to help pen the story behind the scenes?” one person asked.

The backlash caused Llewellyn to delete the post and we are seeing actions being taken towards better established diversity in the UK.

According to The Independent, the BBC has pledged to spend £100m on diversity and inclusiveness over the next few years.

Beyoncé’s new visual album to be available on Disney+

Beyoncé has announced a new visual album, Black is King, releasing 31 July on Disney+.

A one-minute teaser trailer of the album was posted on Sunday night on Beyoncé.com.

The 24-time Grammy® award winner had full rein on Black is King which she wrote, directed and produced herself.

The new visual album is inspired by The Lion King movie that was released last year, for which Beyoncé voiced the character ‘Nala’ and wrote 14 songs for the soundtrack.

According to a press release from Disney+ and Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, “Black Is King is a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience”.

“This visual album from Beyoncé reimagines the lessons of The Lion King for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.”

The film took one year to produce and tells a tale of a young king’s journey through betrayal, love and self-identity. He is guided towards his destiny by his ancestors, his father and his childhood love to reclaim his throne by earning virtues and an identity.

The story represents the voyages of Black families throughout time that informs and rebuilds the present.

It is a “ reunion of cultures and shared generational beliefs. A story of how the people left most broken have an extraordinary gift and a purposeful future”, according to this statement from Disney+ and Parkwood Entertainment.

“Black Is King is an affirmation of a grand purpose, with lush visuals that celebrate Black resilience and culture. The film highlights the beauty of tradition and Black excellence.”

The new album will be star-studded including names like Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, 070 Shake, Tierra Whack, Jay-Z, Blue Ivy Carter and Jessie Reyez, as well as Wizkid, Burna Boy and Mr Eazi.

Beyoncé released her latest single, ‘The Black Parade’, last week on Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. 

This song is a celebration of Black culture and goes hand-in-hand with Black is King.

She also recently launched an initiative to support small Black-owned businesses and bring  attention to Black excellence.