Dear Academy of Television Arts & Sciences,
I’m writing to ask that you especially consider Tatiana Maslany when nominating in the lead actress category. I know that this letter is a bit late, considering that the ballot cutoff is later today at 5 p.m. PT. But all that really means is that there’s still a bit of time left to turn in your ballots; there’s still a little time left to recognize the force that Maslany truly is.
In fact, from now until the deadline, you could probably watch the entire first season of Orphan Black and still have time to cast your ballot. The rumblings that you’ve been hearing for a few weeks now are all true: Orphan Black is extraordinary television, but more importantly, its leading lady is dynamic.
I know that you aren’t too keen on what we like to call “genre” shows. BBC America’s gem during this race certainly qualifies under the category, being primarily science fiction and centered on clones. But what has always infuriated me about the lack of recognition for these shows is the implication that they can’t be as compelling as their subtler counterparts. Remove the makeup, take away the futuristic parascience nature, and what you’re left with is very human stories that strike chords on raw levels.
Sure, to watch Orphan Black is to revel in Maslany playing an assortment of clone flavors. But it’s also to see her connect with each character as a three dimensional human being. How else can we explain the depth in which she crafted Helena’s backstory, a character that could have been nothing but a deranged mess but ended up as a tragedy of a being who has never experienced love? Is there any other way to distinguish between street-smart Sarah and book-smart Cosima? Is the precise pronunciation of every word that comes out of Alison’s mouth not undeniably different than the confidence of Rachel’s dialect?
Is there an actor in the television landscape with the same amount of work ethic that Maslany delivered on a weekly basis? By now you’ve probably read the interviews, how Maslany had to focus in on each clone’s physicality, their dialect, their body language. And that’s all for seven different characters on a week-to-week basis.
Count the amount of characters in the image up above; that’s a total of seven different characters she and the Orphan Black crew had to create. Most episodes, Maslany was playing up to four of her characters … plenty of times in the same scene. Even the way each of them breaks down and cries is vastly different from the other. Simply put, it’s as if an entirely different actor is inhabiting each role. Personally, I forget I’m watching Maslany speak to Maslany during every scene, anyway. And we haven’t even talked about the chemistry she has opposite herself.
You and I, Academy, we’ve had our differences with the likes of Fringe‘s Anna Torv and John Noble. But I ask you, if Orphan Black and Tatiana Maslany can’t at the very least get recognition for their hard work and dedication to the Arts, then when can any other “genre” show? The time to break the cycle is now. It’s 2013 and illuminating storylines are taking place in the supernatural and scifi space on television. Don’t be fooled by the heightened reality and surrealism that mask their Emmy-worthiness. Maslany’s performances are heartbreaking, the potential lack of recognition by peers even more so.
Plenty of actors will be nominated for their contribution to creating a life of one character. When you cast your ballot, think of Maslany’s total of seven — all different, all unique, all completely enthralling and compelling.
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