TORONTO — Ottawa native Sandra Oh made history Thursday as the first Asian woman to be nominated for an Emmy Award for lead actress in a drama series, a category that includes another Canadian — Tatiana Maslany.
Oh is a contender for playing an MI5 operative hunting down a female assassin on BBC America’s “Killing Eve,” which debuts in Canada on July 22 on Bravo.
She was previously nominated for five Emmys for her supporting role in the medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which she endeared audiences as steely perfectionist Dr. Cristina Yang for 10 seasons.
“I love the style, I love the genre of thriller,” Oh said in a recent phone interview from London, where she’s shooting season 2 of “Killing Eve,” created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
“I love playing a character that is able to express an entire range and an entire rainbow of not only emotions but depth in characteristics and qualities.”
Meanwhile, Regina-born Maslany is in the running for playing multiple clones on the fifth and final season of the sci-fi series “Orphan Black,” which wrapped last August on Space. She won the Emmy in the same category in 2016 and was nominated in 2014.
Maslany is now starring in the off-Broadway Tracy Letts play “Mary Page Marlowe,” which began previews on June 19 and was set to open Thursday.
In a statement, she said her nomination was “completely unexpected” and paid homage to the show’s fanbase as well as her fellow contenders, who also include Claire Foy for “The Crown,” Keri Russell for “The Americans,” Elisabeth Moss for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and Evan Rachel Wood for “Westworld.”
“So excited to be sharing the category with all these amazing women,” Maslany said.
“So happy Sandra Oh’s phenomenal work is being recognized!!”
Other Canadian Emmy nominees this year include Ottawa-born Kari Skogland for best directing in a drama series on the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Inspired by Toronto author Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel, the Canadian-shot Bravo and Hulu series has struck a chord in the #MeToo era with its focus on women’s role in society.
“When you’re working on a project that is really resonating around the world, I think you feel the power of that,” Skogland said by phone Thursday from Toronto.
“And you’re also very humbled by being involved with something that is making such a strong statement in such a powerful way.”
This is the first Emmy nomination for Skogland, whose previous projects include “Boardwalk Empire,” “The Borgias” and “Vikings.” Her competition includes Toronto native Jeremy Podeswa and Ottawa-raised Alan Taylor for HBO’s “Game Of Thrones.”
Earlier this year Skogland won a BAFTA trophy for directing on season 1 of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The show, along with the #MeToo movement, have helped take her already prolific career to a new level, she said.
“Until the #MeToo movement, I would say I arm-wrestled my way into every project to get noticed,” Skogland said.
Several other Canadians who worked on “The Handmaid’s Tale” also scored Emmy nods, in categories including makeup, sound mixing and visual effects.
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” hosted by the titular Toronto-born comedian, got a nod for best variety talk series.
Bee is also up for best writing in a variety series — a category that includes two other Canadians: Montreal’s Barry Julien, a writer on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” and Toronto-raised “Saturday Night Live” creator Lorne Michaels.
Martin Short, who grew up in Hamilton, is nominated along with Steve Martin for writing in a variety special for Netflix’s “Steve Martin & Martin Short: An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life.”
Bee is also nominated in that category, for a special in which she travelled with her show to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. She scored another nod for best interactive program for her series.
Michael Che and Colin Jost will host the 70th Emmys, which are set for Sept. 17 on NBC, CTV and CTV GO.
Other Canadian nominees include:
– Canadian composers Mychael and Jeff Danna for their score on CBC-TV’s adaptation of Atwood’s novel “Alias Grace.”
– Danna for best original main title music for the now-cancelled period drama “The Last Tycoon.”
– Toronto producer John Weber for best children’s program for the Netflix adaptation of “A Series Of Unfortunate Events.”
– Montreal production designer Elisabeth Williams for work on two episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
– Craig Mann of Oakville, Ont., for sound mixing on Paramount Network’s miniseries “Waco.”
– Ottawa-born Vice Media co-founder and executive producer Shane Smith for best information series or special for “Vice” on HBO.
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press