Maverick Spirit Award: Tatiana Maslany

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Who’s that lady? Or rather, ladies? And why do they look so much alike? Mischievously twisting and turning like a real-life M.C. Escher print, Orphan Black and star Tatiana Maslany lead you up a staircase, down a hallway, along a highway, heading…where? Is it a dream, a nightmare, a conspiracy, a secret government project gone horribly wrong? This whip-smart series and mega-talented star from Canada invite you in and grab you firmly, refusing to let go, quietly, sardonically laughing all the while. As the young woman in huge trouble, desperately seeking escape from her self-created snare, Maslany, (Sarah Manning), pulls audiences into a strange, hypnotic world that is as believable as it is bizarre. Assuming the identity of look-alike suicide victim Beth, Sarah thinks her woes could well be over. But in an extreme case of “be careful what you wish for,” Sarah/Beth finds herself tumbling down a hellish rabbit hole, with no apparent way out. Portraying Sarah/Beth (and a host of other clones), Maslany effortlessly shifts gears with each new version of herself she encounters. Pardon the pun, but talk about the ultimate in role-playing!

A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, Maslany displayed her talent at an early age. “I’ve been dancing since I was four. So performing was always part of what I was.” While still in high school, she supplemented her participation in student productions with some temporary paid acting gigs across Canada. Though they often gave her a feeling of being adrift and on the outside of so-called normal life, those itinerant jobs provided a deep source of experience that would serve her well when her breakout Orphan Black role came along.

In 2010, with a major role as Ruby in the Canadian production of Grown Up Movie Star, Maslany began to receive more recognition and critical acclaim. Her performance in Star garnered a Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Breakout Role award.

More, higher profile visibility came with lead roles in Canadian films, as well as playing Helen Mirren’s younger Maria Altmann in Woman In Gold.

As Orphan Black rose in popularity during its five-year run, Maslany’s masterful handling of the demands of the show’s multiple clone roles brought numerous accolades and award nominations. The Guardian duly noted the difficulty of the job and the complexity and artistry with which Maslany carried off the daunting assignment. “It’s a fantastic feat that allows the actor to show off her range as she slips effortlessly from the British Sarah to uptight American housewife Alison or Ukrainian-raised and nearferal Helena. She inhabits each entirely, right down to their different eye rolls, ensuring that even when they talk to each other or, memorably, hang out and dance, we never think oh, that’s one person playing all these parts.”

Acknowledgement of Maslany’s prowess eventually led to pinnacle-of-the-industry award, the Emmy. Though her taking on multiple personas in Orphan Black would seem to create some confusion as to who the real Tatiana Maslany actually is, she has it pretty much figured out. As she so aptly puts it, “I try to get roles that challenge me in what I can do and who I think I can portray. For me, it’s about creating characters with really fascinating stories, because that’s what I like to watch on TV.” As her career arc continues to climb, rest assured this amazing young actor is going to be burning up screens, big and small, for many, many years to come. It’s a journey audiences can’t wait to share. - P.D. Crane

Event includes a moderated conversation with Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen, award presentation, and expanded conversation on their new film Souls of Totality

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