Reel Woman Of The Week: Tatiana Maslany

From portraying a Ukrainian psychopath to a suburban housewife to a juvenile delinquent and a policewoman all in one single episode of BBC America’s Orphan Black; Tatiana Maslany truly does make a hard job look effortless. But, first let’s make it clear – No, she does not have a myriad of sisters, nor is she a clone, she merely plays one (… or nine to be precise). However, I can confirm that she is our first Reel Woman of the Week! Let’s cherish this moment by revisiting some of our favourite quotes of hers about the representation of female characters on television.

From her interview with Deadline:
“‘Strong woman’ is still a buzz word.  I’m obsessed with the idea of deciphering and trying to define it. Do I think we’ve made strides? I’ve noticed a lot of change. People have endured boring archetypes (on TV), and they demand more complex portrayals in all aspects. That goes for male archetypes as well. I don’t think it’s limited to women. For me, the complexity of the role and contradictory nature of the role is important; (the role) of the masculine woman doesn’t denote strength. I speak out about these things. Feminism is a remarkable thing, and it’s lucrative. There are different versions of feminism that make money and I’m constantly critical.”

“I think we’ve made huge headways in showing that it’s not special for a woman to lead a TV series. Sex and the City did a lot to normalize four women being the central focus of the story. It was pivotal. All of these shows do something positive. Kat Dennings is an amazing actress. She’s bad ass. I haven’t seen her show.  But there are shows out there that continue to propagate the same things we see over and over. People want to be challenged.”

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From Variety:
“To me [what’s] more interesting is when a woman’s story becomes the default and we don’t overanalyze her vulnerabilities versus her strengths, or her aesthetic versus her internal workings; that there’s not this compartmentalized breaking down of every character, and value assigned to her degree of strength. It’s so boring, but I do appreciate that it’s a discussion that’s happening and I think that we’re in the kind of growing stages of it, like the growing pains, and that’s why it’s a little awkward and maybe overused and maybe a little annoying at this point. But eventually my dream is that we won’t even notice if a woman is leading a show. It’ll just be like, ‘I love that show.’ It’s not like, ‘I love that show because it’s blah blah blah and this and that political reason.’ I can’t wait for the day when it’s just, like you say, people. And that’s across the board, whether that’s sexual orientation or gender identity or whatever. There’s so many ways to break it down. It’s like, ‘Is this person woman enough? Is this person male enough? It’s just a strong female character. It’s just a weak female character.’ I don’t know. It could go on forever, that discussion.”

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From Adweek:
“The characters [in Orphan Black] all have a complexity to them, an unapologetic individuality. They’re not physically superhuman and emotionless and without flaws. Having a strong female character doesn’t mean she’s beyond suffering and fragility. There’s a fearlessness. That to me is strong writing for women. It defies gender.”

“I think [Orphan Black is a feminist piece], though I don’t think that was the motive from the start. It was intended to be this exploration of nature/nurture, and a lead role like that may not normally go to a woman. Women aren’t often the default in movies, TV, media—there’s often very limited space for them. But it’s exciting to mine these stories and see a show that puts women at the center of it.”

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From Cloneversation:
“So often the male perspective is our default perspective in television, in film, and in all kinds of different media and I think that this show [Orphan Black] does is it just goes, ‘nope.’ Women can be all these different things. It’s played by the same actress but we have the potential for so many things and not defined by how we look necessarily because it’s just me…I don’t feel responsible, I feel proud of it.”

From People:
“I don’t think that any woman in this industry hasn’t [experienced sexism] — I think we all have in various ways, and sometimes you can’t even tell that it’s happening because it’s so ingrained in the way things are structured. Seventy or 80 percent of the people on set are male — directors, writers, producers, people in positions of power, but that’s shifting too.”

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From the Women Who Kick Ass panel (2014 San Diego Comic Con):
“A lot of different men will come on as day players or guest parts, and I recognize that there’s a certain strength that I have now, or a certain command that I have being one of the leads on the show that I hadn’t had before … Just owning that space and not being expected, as a woman, to shrink, or curtsy, or any of those sort of things.”

From her New York Times profile:
“She called me out — rightly, and in the nicest way possible — for internalized sexism when I compared Tina Fey unfavorably with Amy Poehler. ‘You don’t pit the Coen brothers against each other, you know what I mean?’ She’s right, of course. It brought to mind the narrative cleverness of ‘Orphan Black,’ which joins the clones together rather than make them compete.”

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From Elle Magazine:
It can sound precious to say that we’re exploring the potential of every woman to be anything, but I truly believe that’s what we’re doing. Seeing complex women in the leads of every single story line is exciting.”

From etalk:
“It’s about autonomy, and the lack of it; about ownership of your body and image. It’s about gender stereotypes, which we explore and bust open. This is all still very relevant to women — and to men, too.”

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Gifs: giphy

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8 responses to “Reel Woman Of The Week: Tatiana Maslany

  1. Tatiana Maslany! She has such insightful comments to make about the industry and her experiences as a female. It really saddens me that we still have such double standards when it comes to telling stories about women; somehow when a show or movie manages to tell a successful and meaningful story about a strong woman, there’s instantly so much buzz and chatter around the accomplishment. As if we are so starved for diverse narratives about women. I see it also in the work of fiction. I personally think it’s gotten little better, but there’s still a long way to go. Thanks for shedding light in your Women of the Week articles!

    Liked by 1 person

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