Sandra Oh’s Netflix comedy “The Chair” touches on the sticky nature of how actions are perceived and the consequences that should or shouldn’t come with it in an age of social media, where nuance often gets lost in the debate.
“It’s really tricky to talk about,” Oh tells Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. “It’s hard to gauge when it’s going to bite you. In some ways, when it gets out there in the culture, it doesn’t belong to you anymore.”
But that’s just one topic to be found in the humorous and satirical “The Chair,” which takes on everything from parenting to office politics to the question of discrimination, ageism and sexism at institutions like the New England university where “The Chair” is set.
Oh is nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award in the lead female actor in a comedy series category for “The Chair,” and coincidentally, the SAG Awards take place on Sunday, February 27 — the same night that her drama “Killing Eve” returns on BBC America for the start of its fourth and final season.
On this episode of Variety’s award-winning Awards Circuit Podcast, we talk to Oh about “The Chair,” “Killing Eve” and her busy animation voice-over career. But first, our Awards Circuit Roundtable dissects the newly announced Oscars hosts and much more. Listen below:
From writer and showrunner Amanda Peet, Netflix’s “The Chair,” which premiered last August, stars Oh as Dr. Ji-yoon Kim, a professor who becomes the first woman of color to become chair of the English department at a fictional New England university. A single mother, Ji-yoon quickly realizes the burden of having to steer a faculty of entitled, out of touch older professors. It isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be.
The cast includes Jay Duplass, Holland Taylor, Bob Balaban and David Morse. Oh’s SAG nomination comes as she has previously won female actor in a drama series twice, for “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Killing Eve,” and has also won for ensemble awards for “Grey’s Anatomy,” and on the film side for “Sideways.”
“I liked it so much immediately,” Oh said of the script. “And then I met up with Amanda and then the whole team and there was just so much like mindedness and a similar approach to work. I wanted to do something fun, actually I was looking for a comedy.”
Oh had never met Duplass, who plays her colleague and somewhat love interest, but they immediately found a chemistry. “It has to do with Jay’s openness and confidence. He has a lot of self-confidence. And he also understand power, because he gives it. How much he’s willing to help open and give power to others, that for me builds up a lot of trust.”
Will there be more of “The Chair”? “No one’s called me, so I’m guessing that’s not happening,” she said. “I would have loved it, because I just thought that there was so much material there to potentially explore. Because the setting and the characters were established… I’m just happy that it happened, it was a great experience. But I am sad that it’s over.”
As for the end of “Killing Eve,” Oh said she is starting to contemplate what the series meant to her as it comes to an end. “It really changed how I create something,” she said.
It’s been a busy period for Oh, who has also become a go-to voice talent for animated films such as “Raya and the Last Dragon” and the upcoming “Turning Red.”
Variety Awards Circuit podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in movies. Michael Schneider is the producer and Drew Griffith edits. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week.