It wasn’t the first time Sandra Oh took her parents to the Emmys. By my count, this was the fourth time Mr & Mrs Oh accompanied their daughter to the Emmy Awards.
Here they are in 2005:
And in 2006:
And ten years ago in 2008:
This time, though, as you know, Sandra made history, even without winning, as the first Asian woman to be nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Series. And while they’re always proud, this time, they were likely extra proud – we know this because Mrs Oh hugged Sandra. On camera. Which Sandra called out straight away. Those of who have an Asian mother understand what just happened and why it was so noteworthy. Many Asian mothers are not usually tactile nor are they easy with praise. The only times my ma ever touches me is to give me her hand when she’s getting in and out of the car. For balance, not for affection.
The Oh family had me up in my feelings all night. Seeing Mrs Oh in her hanbok, seeing Mr Oh with his pocket square coordinating with his wife and daughter, and hearing Sandra say this, with her ma clapping enthusiastically beside her…
And of course this! Sandra Oh “It’s an honor just to be Asian” pic.twitter.com/TRnoBTOAf2— Oh San 💚 (@raeyan16) September 18, 2018
I know it’s maybe not a big deal to Tina Fey, but it’s a big ass deal for many of us, born to Asian immigrants in North America, to hear an Asian woman say on a major awards show, at the top of the show, that “it’s an honour just to be Asian”. These are not words we hear often which, maybe, is why we haven’t believed it often. And it’s often our parents who help us to the realisation. It was that way for me and I’m willing to bet that it was that way for Sandra Oh.
Let’s go back to Mr & Mrs Oh though. Do they watch This Is Us?!?