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Canadians want you to remember that Sandra Oh is not Asian American

Screengrab via Variety/YouTube

Her Golden Globe triumphs are great! Let’s just be clear what they really are.

Whether it was her multiple victories, or her thanking her parents in Korean in her winning speech, or her father proudly standing up for her Best Actress in a TV drama award, Sandra Oh brought us a lot of ugly-cries of joy during the Golden Globe Awards last night.

Her awards and her parents’ pride led many to highlight the importance of diversity and representation in Hollywood. Especially since 2018 was a significant year for proving that audiences want to see films with more people of color at their center, with Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther exploding in the box office. And people watching the Globes at home at last night were eager to express their pride at Oh’s wins. 

Except, there was a significant error in the way the history-making was represented, not only by viewers but even by some news organizations. San Francisco Chronicle and Today show headlines referred to Oh as the “first Asian American host.” However, Oh is from Nepean, near Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, and her fellow citizens were swift to point it out on Twitter.

That Oh is the first Asian woman to host the Golden Globes and the first in nearly 40 years to win a lead actress award in a television drama are no small things. But the assumptions about what these history-making victories are serve as a reminder that the celebration of diversity requires a bit of fact-checking, too. 

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque