Tatiana Gabrielle Maslany, actor (born 22 September 1985 in Regina, Saskatchewan). Versatile film and television actor Tatiana Maslany is perhaps best known for her multiple performances as various clones in the hit sci-fi series Orphan Black (2013–17). In 2016, she became the first Canadian actor to win a Primetime Emmy Award for a Canadian television series. She has also won five Canadian Screen Awards, two Gemini Awards, two ACTRA Awards and numerous other honours.
Tatiana Maslany showed the makings of a natural performer growing up in Regina. She started dancing at age four and created plays with her brother for their parents, Danny and Renate. Her mother, a translator, taught the young Maslany German before she learned English. She further developed her linguistic skills by taking French immersion in school and eventually learned Spanish.
Maslany landed her first acting gig with the Regina Summer Stage’s production of Oliver! in 1995. She was active in the drama community at Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School and juggled her studies with TV roles on Incredible Story Studio (2000) and 2030 CE (2002–03). During this period, Maslany thrived at improvisational acting and spontaneously creating characters. She performed and toured with the improv troupe General Fools for seven years, going all the way to the Canadian Improv Games. She also became a certified improv instructor.
Maslany graduated from high school in 2003. She continued to perform with General Fools while acting in theatre and landing roles in film and television. She beat Ellen Page for the role of Ghost in Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed (2004), the campy follow-up to the cult hit Ginger Snaps (2000). Fans noted Maslany’s performance, including the film’s executive producer John Fawcett, who went on to co-create Orphan Black.
Maslany’s first lead role came with the TV movie Booky Makes Her Mark (2006), playing an aspiring writer in Depression-era Canada. She also landed supporting roles in: Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story (2006); The Robber Bride (2007), based on the Margaret Atwood novel; Stir of Echoes: The Homecoming (2007); the interactive film Late Fragment (2007); and George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead (2007). Major projects followed, including a vocal performance in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007) and the inspirational drama Flash of Genius (2008). She landed a guest role in the popular Toronto-shot crime series Flashpoint in 2008, for which she won her first Gemini Award, and had recurring roles in the CTV series Instant Star (2008) and the CBC dramas Heartland (2008–10) and Being Erica (2009–11).
Maslany had a breakout year in 2009. Her raw and vulnerable performance as a messy 13-year-old exploring her sexuality in Adriana Maggs’s Newfoundland-shot feature, Grown Up Movie Star, won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and earned a Genie Award nomination. That year, Maslany also appeared opposite Woody Harrelson and Sandra Oh in Peter Stebbings’s superhero farce Defendor and the action movie Hardwired. She followed with acclaimed performances in The Nativity (2010) and Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures (2010), earning her second Gemini Award for the latter.
Maslany also had an impressive year in 2012 with supporting roles in the independent thriller Blood Pressure, the Rachel McAdams romance The Vow and the Emmy-winning historical miniseries World Without End. She also drew attention on the festival circuit for her layered, authentic performance in the coming-of-age dramedy Picture Day, which earned her best actress awards from ACTRA and the Whistler International Film Festival, as well as a special award for Breakthrough Performer at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Also in 2012, Maslany participated in the prestigious TIFF Rising Stars professional development program at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Maslany landed the biggest project of her career after arriving to a callback in rollerblades and nailing the audition. That role — or rather, roles — cast Maslany as Sarah Manning, a British con artist who discovers that she is one of many “sister” clones in the Canadian sci-fi television series Orphan Black (2013–17). Maslany plays Sarah, a German spy, a Scarborough soccer mom, a queer graduate student, a Ukrainian assassin and a Finnish burn survivor. Maslany disappeared in various levels of performance playing multiple characters, sometimes in a single scene, sometimes as one clone pretending to be another. Maslany wowed fans with her chameleon-like performance, which challenged her with speaking in multiple accents while creating nearly a dozen unique personas. Critics also championed Maslany for portraying the various women as strong, flawed and complex.
Her work on Orphan Black became a pop culture phenomenon — a rarity for a Canadian production, particularly one set in Canada. Fans dubbed themselves the #CloneClub and live-tweeted each episode with Maslany frequently interacting with them on social media. The Clone Club rallied when Maslany failed to receive an Emmy Award nomination for the first season of Orphan Black despite scoring a Canadian Screen Award, an upset win at the Critics’ Choice Awards and a Golden Globe nomination. After fans decried the snub on social media and drew attention to the show, Maslany earned her first Emmy nomination for Orphan Black in 2015 and then made history in 2016 when she became the first Canadian to win an Emmy for a performance in a Canadian series.
Maslany acted in various projects between seasons of Orphan Black, including Jason Priestley’s award-winning offbeat road movie Cas & Dylan (2013), with Richard Dreyfus, which earned Maslany a Canadian Screen Award nomination. She also showed her comedic chops on the TV series Parks and Recreation, Captain Canuck, Bojack Horseman and Robot Chicken. Maslany further displayed her versatility by performing in German as the younger version of Helen Mirren’s character in the drama Woman in Gold (2015), with Ryan Reynolds. Her additional credits include Kim Nguyen’s Nunavut-set romance Two Lovers and a Bear (2016), Joey Klein’s romantic drama The Other Half (2017), for which she won a Canadian Screen Award, and the Boston Marathon bombing drama Stronger (2017), opposite Jake Gyllenhaall.
Maslany has described herself as a reluctant star and prefers to keep her personal life private. She embodies a carefree persona that contrasts with the edginess of Orphan Black and often charms interviewers with an unfussy attitude uncorrupted by fame. She lives in Toronto and began dating her World Without End and The Other Half (2016) co-star Tom Cullen in 2011.
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role (Orphan Black), (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
- Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (The Other Half) (2017)
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role Dramatic Series (Flashpoint), (2009)
- Best Performance by an Actress in a Guest Role Dramatic Series (Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures), (2010)
- Outstanding Performance – Female (Picture Day), ACTRA Awards in Toronto (2013)
- Outstanding Performance – Female (Orphan Black), ACTRA Awards in Toronto (2015)
- Best Supporting Actress (Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed), Fangoria Chainsaw Awards (2004)
- World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Dramatic for Breakout Performance (Grown Up Movie Star), Sundance Film Festival (2010)
- Best Performance in a Borsos Film (Picture Day), Whistler Film Festival (2012)
- Breakthrough Performer (Picture Day), Hamptons International Film Festival (2012)
- Best Actress in a Drama Series (Orphan Black), Critics’ Choice Awards (2013)
- Best Performance in a Borsos Film (Cas & Dylan), Whistler Film Festival (2013)
- Individual Achievement in Drama (Orphan Black), Television Critics Association Awards (2013)
- Breakthrough Performance – Female (Orphan Black), Young Hollywood Awards (2013)
- Outstanding Female Actor in a Breakthrough Role (Orphan Black), Gracie Awards (2014)
- Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (Orphan Black), Primetime Emmy Awards (2016)