Killing Eve star Sandra Oh on lack of diversity in British TV and film: ‘Sometimes it would be me and 75 white people’

Comments come after a photo of the all-white writers for ‘Killing Eve’ series four went viral

Roisin O'Connor
Saturday 27 June 2020 11:48 BST
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Sandra Oh has said she believes the UK is “behind” when it comes to diversity in TV and film.

The Killing Eve star pointed out that she has been the only Asian person on set for many of her projects and said she believes the UK is further behind than the US.

“Being the sole Asian person is a very familiar place for me,” the Canadian-American told Kerry Washington as part of Variety magazine’s Actors on Actors series. “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.”

She continued: “The development of people behind the camera is very slow in the UK. I don’t know about the rest of Europe. 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.”

She added: “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’s comments echo those made by director Steve McQueen, who recently said the UK TV and film industries needed to challenge their own “blatant racism”.

“Last year, I visited a TV-film set in London,” he wrote. “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 added: “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.”

Among those to share Oh’s comments was Megha Mohan, the BBC’s gender and diversity correspondent.

Mohan went viral earlier this month after pointing out the lack of diversity in a photo of the all-white Killing Eve writers for season four.

The BBC recently pledged to spend £100m on “diverse and inclusive” content as part of a drive by its first director of creative diversity, June Sarpong, to improve representation.

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