People & Celebrities

Sandra Oh believes UK is ‘behind’ on diversity in film and television industries


Killing Eve star Sandra Oh has spoken out against the lack of diversity in the UK film and television industry, stating that it would sometimes be her “and 75 white people” on set.

Speaking as part of Variety’s Actors on Actors series, the actor compared her experiences in the UK and US. Although she said she is often the “sole Asian person” on set for many of her projects, she singled out the UK for being “behind” on diversity.

She told Kerry Washington: “Being the sole Asian person is a very familiar place for me.

“But the UK, I’m not afraid to say, is behind. I’m not only the only Asian person on set – sometimes it changes, [it’s] very exciting when someone comes on set – but the development of people behind the camera is very slow in the UK.”


Sandra Oh congratulates Killing Eve co-star Jodie Comer (IPA USA/PA Images)

She continued: “Sometimes it would be me and 75 white people… and I have not come from that.

“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.”

Referring to Killing Eve, she said: “I’ve got to tell you. Even more than that, I think being the only American on that set, 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.”

Ms Oh’s comments echo Director Steve McQueen, who argued that the UK is far behind the United States regarding representation behind the camera.

Writing in The Guardian, the 12 Years a Slave filmmaker urged the British film industry to tackle it’s “blatant racism” and said “the culture of the industry has to change.”

Referencing time spent on set filming his new series Small Axe, Mr McQueen said there were only a few black British crew members, and he could “not believe the whiteness of the set”.

He wrote: “The UK is so far behind in terms of representation, it’s shameful.”

The BBC recently pledged to spend £100 million on “diverse and inclusive” content, as part director of creative diversity June Sarpong‘s initiative to improve improve representation.



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