Tatiana Maslany is one of the quickest rising, yet most unheard of stars in television currently. The 28-year-old Saskatchewan, Canada native has been in the acting business since 1997, yet most of her roles over the course of those 17 years have been relatively minor. In 2013, Maslany appeared on the hit NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. Unknown to her at the time, though, Maslany was also currently working as the lead actress on a television series which would launch her into stardom - Orphan Black.
While Orphan Black received less than one million viewers in its first season run on BBC America, that does not delegitimize the show's potential for success.
After the first season of Orphan Black ended, some 5.2 million viewers tuned in to the show through other mediums, mostly on-demand and DVDs. Since the show ended last summer, it has obtained a cult following, with #TheCloneClub pushing the show to prominence.
The show would be nowhere, however, without the outstanding acting by Tatiana Maslany. Maslany's role on Orphan Black forces her to not only play her single identity on the show, but also the identities of 11 different clones. The labor and intensity of such an act earned Maslany a Golden Globe nomination in 2013 for Best Performance by an Actress in a Dramatic Television Series.
Going into Season 2, Maslany feels more confident in being able to portray all 11 clones in their own unique ways. She credits that confidence to understanding the characters better now that she has one season under her belt.
“I know these women now, so it was about going deeper with it and challenging them and not getting stuck in just going to do the Alison thing. It’s like what happens when Alison is thrown into this situation. And we left them all at very tense places, kind of high-stakes places, so there was so much to work with,” Maslany explained.
— Orphan Black (@OrphanBlack) April 14, 2014
While Maslany is more familiar with the diverse cast of characters she has to portray in each episode, it doesn't mean that the preparation to achieve such a task is any easier. When asked how she handles the difficulty in portraying multiple characters on the same set in one day, Maslany responded:
"I kind of have to think about all of them. As much as I can I try to block them out, but I do block the scene as all of them first off, so I have to think about what maybe the impulse might be on that side or who I want to have move into the space at that time or how something is gonna play out. I kind of have to direct it ahead of time in a way and have it all in my head. I try to sort of forget it, forget, forget, forget. And then just be there. Simplifying it in my head as much as possible is the way to do it. Just breathing and being there as that character, and letting that come out, with an awareness that I do have to move on from that person at the end of it."
— Meredith Jacobs (@MeredithJJacobs) April 16, 2014
Maslany's co-star Jordan Gavaris understands and appreciates the daunting nature of Maslany's performances: "I don't think there's another actor right now, especially in her age range, who could have tackled something like this. The value of getting to work with an actor of her caliber is not lost on me."
Orphan Black's co-creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett feel the same way. "She's a total natural, a working prodigy... Everyone wants to do their best work because she's working harder than everyone here, and everyone knows she's doing something special."
If one is intrigued by the concept of a sci-fi show centered around a cloning project gone wrong, one can view the episodes on Amazon Prime Instant Video, which has locked down an exclusive online streaming deal for the show.
If you do decide to tune in, however, expediency must be a priority. Season 2 of Orphan Black airs on BBC America starting this Saturday, April 19.
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