For her role as Sarah Manning in Canadian series Orphan Black, Tatiana Maslany won the award for Lead Dramatic Actress at the 2014 Canadian Screen awards in Toronto last month. Image: Reuters
Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany came out of obscurity last year, garnering the attention of audiences and critics as the lead actress of Canadian series Orphan Black.
The 28-year-old actress appears as more than one character, as the show revolves around the character she plays, Sarah Manning, an orphan who takes on the identity of a woman who looks exactly like her. The character then discovers that there are more people out there who look like her, and are in fact clones.
The 10-episode long show, which premiered on March 30 last year on BBC America in the United States and Space in Canada, has made it to Time’s list of top 10 TV shows for that year.
This year, Maslany was also nominated for favourite sci-fi/fantasy actress at the People’s Choice Awards and best actress in a TV series, drama at the Golden Globe Awards.
The first season of Orphan Black premiered Monday, April 7, on Lifetime Channel (StarHub Channel 514) at 9pm.
Having to play many characters with different backgrounds in Orphan Black means that she has to speak in different accents. A dialect coach, Mr John Nelles, helps her.
“Each of the characters has a very specific voice and a very specific dialect based on where she comes from. To me, that’s really fun to play with,” she says.
“So much of how you communicate determines what kind of person you are and where you come from indicates the kind of person you might be, and the sort of way you might communicate. It all adds to the characters.”
While the series has made her popular, she is not in a hurry to move on to bigger things, such as Hollywood movies.
“I’m really happy working on smaller movies and I’m not too fussed to go to Hollywood and do that thing,” she says.
“But you know, I always want to work, so if Orphan Black opens doors as far as work goes, then I’m happy.”
1. Do you read sci-fi books or watch sci-fi movies?
Not really, I haven’t been super-involved in sci-fi before the show. I think the closest was zombies. I was interested in zombies for a time. But no, sci-fi is kind of a new thing to me. It’s cool because our show is very sci-fi, but at the same time, it feels like a drama and also a kind of a dark comedy. What I think is cool about sci-fi is that it allows for a very specific world to be created and for us to reflect on our own world.
2. When new technology comes out, are you the first to adopt it?
No, not at all. I want nothing to do with it, really. It all feels like it’s moving way too fast for the brain to process.
We’re so keyed into our mobile phones, to our social media and all that stuff that I feel that sometimes, we don’t connect with people. So I’ll say I’m a bit anti- technology.
3. Were you surprised by the good response to Orphan Black?
Yes, I was surprised. I think we all were. We didn’t know that it was going to be received the way it was, and it’s super surprising that all these incredible places that we never expected, including India and Singapore, are watching. It’s such a nice feeling.
4. Have you met people who looked just like you?
I was at a bar once and some people said, “This girl looks exactly like you”. They introduced the two of us and neither of us thought that we looked like the other. So I think it’s more of an outward perception than something you notice.
5. If you could take on somebody’s identity, whose would it be and why?
That’s a great question. Nicki Minaj popped into my head, and I can’t get her out and I can’t think of anybody else. So I’m going to say Nicki Minaj because I want to be a rapper. I mean she’s a difficult woman but I still love her. I used to listen to her music a lot but not so much anymore.
6. Are there any actors or actresses you want to work with?
I would love to work with a lot of different actors.
I think Joaquin Phoenix is really amazing in everything he does, he’s pretty compelling. He was in Her (2013) and Walk The Line (2005). So he’s awesome, I would love to work with him.
I’d love to work with Cate Blanchett and Marion Cotillard. I think they play really interesting characters and they’re very alive on screen. They’re people I can’t take my eyes off.
7. What do you think of the American stereotypes of Canadians? Do you get offended?
They’re all true (laughs). The politeness, the apologising, all of that is very true.
I think Canadians are also really self- deprecating. So it’s like we make fun of ourselves as much as people make fun of us. So it’s not too bad.
8. How would you like to be remembered?
That’s a tough question. I’d probably like to be remembered for the people I loved, the friends I had and the work I did.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on April 7, 2014. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.