Sandra Oh, who has portrayed tough-skinned Dr. Cristina Yang on ABC’s top medical drama, will be calling it quits at the series after the completion of its upcoming tenth season. After signing a two-year deal with the network in May 2012, Oh won’t renew it this year and will leave to pursue other career opportunities. An emotional Oh spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, saying: “Creatively, I really feel like I gave it my all, and I feel ready to let her go. It’s such an interesting thing to play a character for so long and to actually get the sense that she wants to be let go as well. [Cristina] wants to be let go, and I am ready to let her go. We have to start the process, story-wise, for the Grey’s writers to think of why she’s going to go.”
The actress openly admits her decision doesn’t feel real yet. She says she first started thinking about leaving last May, when all the original stars inked new deals. “I’ve gone through a lot of therapy over this,” she says through tears. “I started thinking about it because I had to prepare myself. I gave myself two years to emotionally let go. At the end of last season, Shonda took me aside and said, ‘What are your thoughts?’ I said, ‘I’m ready.’” Oh informed her fellow co-stars of her upcoming exit at the table read for the show’s 200th episode. “I seriously think I need that much support over processing it over this next year for me to be able to leave fully and leave in a way that I feel like Cristina deserves,” she says, noting that series creator Shonda Rhimes has supported her every step of the way. “For the first time, at least for my character, you actually have an endpoint, which in series television you never or very rarely have.”
In her 10-year run with the series, Oh’s character Cristina has certainly been the experiment of the writers’ exploitation of controversial subjects, such as abortion and PTSD. As there is currently no word how the character will exit, it is definitely sad to see her go. But we have to respect Oh for her hard decision to leave. The tenth season of Grey’s Anatomy premieres with a two-hour special on Thursday, September 26 on ABC.