BBC America’s Orphan Black fans are rejoicing – after wrapping up an incredible third season, lead actress Tatiana Maslany has finally received a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama series in the upcoming 67th Primetime Emmy Awards later this year. The hype the internet has had not only for the show and the nomination but for Tatiana herself has been wild, yet rightly deserved. For the last three years Maslany has graced our screens as not one, not two, not even three – but twelve different characters in one show. A myriad of accents, body language, gestures, personalities and sexualities grace the screens of Orphan Black viewers, all portrayed by the same actress. Playing clones seems like a daunting task (including tackling a portrayal of one transgender clone) but Maslany does it well – so well, in fact, that you tend to forget that each character is played by the same person. It’s no wonder that the Emmy nomination audience cheered and applauded when her name was announced – you only have to watch one episode to see why.
The different roles
Starring as one version of herself opposite another version of herself, or as Clone A pretending to be Clone B pretending to be Clone C, or even putting on a British accent attempting at an American one (all the while disguising her Canadian native tongue), the 29-year-old is a credit to actresses everywhere that go the extra mile. From taking taxi cabs in-character to practice and prepare for her roles and creating customized playlists tuned to each clone to listen to in her trailer, the depths she dives in order to bring out the best possible versions of her characters are as prominent as the layers and layers of unique differences each and every one of her characters have.
A chameleon on-screen, the Canadian native not only amazes on the show but off of it as well. An advocate for more LGBTQ representation within the media (two of her clones fall into this category: Cosima, a lesbian, and Tony, who is transgender), she hopes to see more representations of queer culture in the next few years. Versed and scholarly about who and what she is representing, it is clear in her interviews that Maslany has a profound understanding of queer and female representation and what she as an actress can do to change this. In an interview with The TV Junkie, Maslany explains themes explored in the show and her own thoughts and views on them – particularly gender and female roles in society. “We’re interested in talking about body ownership and autonomy, and this idea of women being patented. This fight continues to be something I’m really passionate about. Fertility is this thing that sort of defines women but it doesn’t have to.” In Rolling Stone magazine, she highlights elements of feminism and equality whilst criticizing the term ‘strong female character’, arguing “I’ve never heard the term ‘strong male character.’ That doesn’t mean anything. So what does ‘strong female character’ mean? We’re so ready to put a label on something instead of leaving room for every different kind of expression, every vulnerable, weak, funny, vulgar, stupid thing…. there are layers and levels, and you can’t put somebody in a box.”
Constantly praising the other cast and crew for their hands in the show’s success, Maslany is modest and gracious when it comes to her work, shifting compliments and attention to Kathryn Alexandre (her body double on Orphan Black) in multiple interviews and convention panels. In return, Alexandre describes Maslany as “forever telling others to please go before her at the lunch table, always checking in and asking if everyone has all that they need…. and always the hardest working and likely the most tired person in the room but never showing it.” Cast member Ksenia Solo agrees: “(Tatiana is) always smiling. Kind to everyone. She’s a ray of light.” Not only that, Maslany regularly recognizes the work and support of fans of the show (more commonly known as the Clone Club), stating her nomination is “so surreal and exciting, mostly because of our fans… this is for them.”