Unlike their film counterparts, TV actors can often bank on repeat nominations at the annual SAG Awards. That’s great for a fortunate few, but the lack of turnover makes it all the more challenging for newcomers to crack the field. Two-thirds of this year’s TV series nominees have been nominated for their skeins in the past, but there are seven newcomers to the 2015 race — a relatively sizeable number helped by the fact that five of last year’s nominees (from “Breaking Bad,” “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development”) were no longer on the ballot.
Viola Davis won two SAG awards in the lead actress and ensemble categories for “The Help” but earned her first TV nom this year for ABC’s hit thriller “How to Get Away With Murder” — a rare achievement for a freshman series.
“It’s flattering,” Davis says of the nomination. “Those are your peers. Those are people who know the art. It’s an especially great honor.”
Davis, who was also nominated for “Doubt” in 2009, has experienced both victory and defeat when that envelope is opened. “It’s nerve-wracking,” she says. “The whole emphasis on winning. It means everything and nothing.”
Although he’s been nominated eight times for features and telepics (and won in 2003 for TNT’s “Door to Door”), this is William H. Macy’s first nom for Showtime’s “Shameless,” currently in its fifth season.
“That’s a great awards ceremony,” Macy says of the SAGs. “I get to see all my pals, I feel like I belong. Some of those people owe me money.”
Macy credits his nom to the show’s growing fanbase as well as a recent decision to submit the dark dramedy for comedy contention, a category where he feels it rightly belongs despite often heavy subject matter.
“Oh, the irony,” he says. “I spent all season, 12 episodes, in bed dying of liver failure to get nominated for comedy awards. What do we know?”
For Tatiana Maslany, who plays seven clones on BBC America’s cult favorite “Orphan Black,” her first nomination signals that people are seeing her work. “To know other actors are watching and giving us that recognition is amazing,” she says. “It’s always shocking to me who watches (‘Orphan Black’). It’s a wide variety of people and a demographic I wouldn’t necessarily expect. Going to award shows and meeting people who have seen it or hearing that they talk about it in writers rooms, it’s always surprising to me.”
And getting the SAG nom meant something even more special for “Orange Is the New Black” breakout Uzo Aduba since playing Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren is the role that actually earned her a SAG card.
“When they extended (the season one contract) it was like, ‘Now you have to join the union.’ I was like, ‘Really?’ And I was really so excited,” she says. “You feel official, like you’ve been entered into this society of actors. Every actor I’ve admired … I get to say in some small part that I’m a part of that team.”
Aduba also enjoys an additional nomination as part of her show’s ensemble cast, another first for “OITNB” after the series was shut out last year. “It’s not just myself and my show, there are so many of us,” she says. “So many of my friends feel encouraged by shows like ours, casting directors like ours and creators like ours who were willing to give an opportunity to so many.”
Shrine Auditorium, on TNT/TBS
Jan. 25, 5 p.m.