“Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany has been a critical favorite since BBC America’s “Orphan Black” debuted in 2013, scooping two Critics’ Choice Awards and a Television Critics Assn. win for her dazzling performance as four lead characters (clone “sisters” Sarah, Alison, Cosima and Helena) — as well as numerous supporting and guest roles — on the genre-bending sci-fi series. Now, in 2015, the Television Academy has finally caught up with the buzz, rewarding Maslany with her first Emmy nomination for lead actress in a drama.
“I didn’t even expect it at all,” Maslany admitted, momentarily lost for words when Variety spoke to her on Thursday morning. “It’s super nice, and it feels like a nice thing for the show to get that kind of recognition, and for the fans — they’ve been so supportive and protective of us; it feels like a communal thing.”
Indeed, the online reaction to Maslany’s nomination was swift and euphoric, with everyone from comedian (and first-time lead actress in a comedy nominee) Amy Schumer to musician Rob Thomas expressing their enthusiasm for the actress’s recognition.
“It’s crazy,” Maslany said of the online support. “That’s why I feel it’s not for me this nomination happened; it’s for our fans, because they’re the ones who are fighting for people to watch the show and have championed it in such a huge way. I feel so supported and so loved. It’s totally crazy to me that anyone cares if I get a nomination — it’s pretty wild.”
Maslany joins two other freshman Emmy nominees in the lead actress in a drama category, “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson and “How to Get Away With Murder’s” Viola Davis, alongside returning favorites “Homeland’s” Claire Danes, “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss and “House of Cards” star Robin Wright. Danes is a two-time winner for “Homeland,” while this nomination marks Moss’ sixth (with no wins thus far) for “Mad Men.” This is Wright’s third consecutive nomination for “Cards.” Last year’s winner, “The Good Wife” star Julianna Margulies, was not nominated in 2015.
For Maslany, the biggest challenge in the last season on “Orphan Black” was debuting yet another clone: “It was really scary to introduce Krystal, the new clone we saw in episode eight, but I loved her so much — she was one of my highlights from last season, for sure. I would never be cast as her on any other show; only on ‘Orphan Black’ would I get to play the blonde manicurist, so it was super fun to get to do that. Jordan [Gavaris] and I had a real challenge in that scene because he was playing double layers of things and I was playing double layers of things, so it was a really rich scene to get to play together, and he and I have so much fun working together and so much trust and respect for each other, so more so than work, it was play.”
Despite the nomination, Maslany’s focus remains on her work — she spoke with Variety on the way to set for a new film she’s shooting called “The Other Half.”
“It’s about two people who are very broken and very much in love with each other and trying to make it work. It’s a very simple story but told really beautifully,” she said. “The director is Joey Klein, and I’m working opposite Tom Cullen and it’s like a family affair. It’s a real passion project for all of us, we’ve been attached to it for years, so it’s finally seeing the light of day, which is the most gratifying thing.”
She added, “I feel lucky just to be a working actor and just have varied experiences and outlets for creativity … not everybody gets that. With ‘Orphan Black’ I hit the jackpot in terms of creative expression and challenge and growth, so I’m really very lucky.”
The 67th Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 20 on Fox.