2013 Hero: Tatiana Maslany
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2013 Hero: Tatiana Maslany

Nominated for: giving us several new sci-fi heroines, simultaneously.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains: the very best and very worst people, places, things, and ideas that have had an influence on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 2 p.m. on January 1. At 4 p.m. we will reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

hero tatiana maslany brett lamb

Traditionally, an actor playing multiple roles in a single production is the province of either zany (or wish-they-were-zany) comedies and off-Broadway stage plays that are supposedly important but that nobody really likes. (No, be honest. Nobody likes them and neither do you.) It’s a showy thing for an actor to do, and nearly impossible to do well.

This is why Tatiana Maslany’s multiple performances in Orphan Black—as a number of clones, all with very different lives—is so great. Maslany makes her multiple characters (a British street rat, a Canadian soccer mom, a hippie American scientist) distinct from one another, while still recognizing their innate “sisterness” as clones; it is a remarkable set of acting performances, all in sync with one another and each unique. And Maslany’s performance as a set of female clones rebelling against men who thought they owned them is entirely feminist without being distractingly preachy.

Orphan Black is the most praised Canadian science fiction show quite possibly ever, and although the smart writing and thoroughly skilled direction both contribute to the show’s success (and as Torontonians, we all enjoy the visual callbacks that remind you that the show is basically set in Toronto), Orphan Black lives and dies with Maslany’s set of clones. It’s why she’s won numerous awards for her performance already, and has been nominated for a Golden Globe. Her skill in portraying a uniquely Torontonian set of heroines is what makes her one of our Heroes.