Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany discusses Emmys, being surprisingly 'subversive'

Tatiana Maslany says it's an honour to have garnered her first Emmy nomination but the real excitement has been watching the reaction of her ardent fans.

The Regina, Sask. actress is nominated for an Emmy in the best lead actress in a drama category

Tatiana Maslany says it's an honour to have garnered her first Emmy nomination but the real excitement has been watching the reaction of her ardent fans.

The Regina-bred TV star says she's been blown away by eruptions of glee from the "Clone Club," the gang of Orphan Black devotees who have long called for Maslany to be recognized for her multiple roles in the clone saga.

"For me, it was really exciting when I got the nomination but more so it was nice to hear the sort of groundswell of support from all the fans," says Maslany from London, where she's vacationing.

"To me, the awards stuff isn't the most important part of it by any means, it's sort of a bizarre addition to this job. But it is really a nice honour, definitely."

Maslany is enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation after shooting back-to-back film projects in Canada, which were preceded by her demanding stint on the Space/BBC America saga.

The break has also offered a respite from the Emmy fever that grips Hollywood around this time of year. Awards campaigning demands that stars hit the talk show circuit to garner votes from the Television Academy and capitalize on publicity for their projects.

"It's this bizarre other part of the job that I'm just starting to learn," says Maslany, who appeared on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show last week.

"It's kind of nice to be out of the chaos of it, I'm sure I'll be knee-deep in that when I head to L.A. in September."

6 characters against 1

Tatiana Maslany holds her award for best actress in a TV drama for her role in "Orphan Black" backstage at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards in Toronto, March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

The versatile performer is up against some heavy hitters in the best lead actress in a drama Emmy category: Taraji P. Henson from Empire; Claire Danes from Homeland; Robin Wright from House Of Cards; Viola Davis from How To Get Away With Murder; and Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men.

But while those actresses are nominated for playing just one character, Maslany is nominated for six: the street smart Sarah, soccer mom-turned-drug-dealer Alison, ailing scientist Cosima, murderous mom-to-be Helena, one-eyed villain Rachel and clueless manicurist Krystal.

Maslany's ability to cleanly shift from role to role has earned her lots of critical attention, including two Critics Choice Television Awards trophies, a Canadian Screen Award and a Television Critics Association Award.

She's also been nominated for a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award, but her snub at the Emmys last year drew a flood of complaints from fans online.

"I think the non-nomination actually got us more press than the nomination," says Maslany.

So far, Maslany says having an Emmy nomination does seem to help open doors.

"That's what these things are for, visibility, right?" she says. "It definitely gets me job offers or a script being sent to me and that kind of thing."

Taking a stand against sexism

Maslany has blasted the film and TV business for idealized beauty standards. (Tonya Wise/Associated Press)

It's also drawn attention to her growing reputation for candour when it comes to speaking about sexism in the industry.

A recent interview with People, in which Maslany blasted the film and TV business for idealized beauty standards, was picked up by multiple other outlets online.

"I don't think that any woman in this industry hasn't (experienced sexism) — I think we all have in various ways, and sometimes you can't even tell that it's happening because it's so ingrained in the way things are structured," Maslany told People.

"Seventy or 80 per cent of the people on set are male — directors, writers, producers, people in positions of power, but that's shifting too."

Maslany says she didn't realize she was saying anything all that controversial.

"I was kind of surprised by that, actually," she says of how quickly her words spread.

"Even that that was a news article. I'm like, 'Don't we all know this? Isn't this something that everybody is acutely aware of?' But I guess it's sort of subversive."

And her comments were not just directed at Hollywood, she says, noting it's an issue that pervades Canadian sets as well.

"It's always been something I've contended with from a young age in the industry — that's just the nature of that industry, I think. It becomes sometimes about look and about image and about bodies and body types and what's in right now in terms of how we look and all of that stuff," she says.

"The thing that I love about Orphan Black is that's kind of what we're facing head on, in terms of the content of the show — we're talking about women's bodies and we're talking about ownership and autonomy and what makes me, me."

The Emmy Awards will air on Sept. 20.


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