TORONTO - Regina-born actress Tatiana Maslany says she's still in denial after scoring a surprise best actress win at the Critics' Choice Television Awards.
The Canuck star of "Orphan Black" triumphed Monday night over seasoned rivals including Claire Danes from "Homeland," Keri Russell from "The Americans," Julianna Margulies from "The Good Wife," Vera Farmiga from "Bates Motel" and Elisabeth Moss from "Mad Men."
Maslany says from Los Angeles that she is definitely "the weirdo in that group," and is trying not to focus too much on murmurs that the win could catapult her to more international fame.
Last year's critics' choice actress winner — Danes from "Homeland" — went on to win the best actress Emmy Award.
The 27-year-old Maslany earned the critics' pick for her multiple turns in the Toronto-shot Space series, where she plays several varied characters who are clones of each other.
For those late to the sci-fi drama, season one repeats on Space beginning Thursday and is also streaming online at space.ca. Season two of "Orphan Black" begins filming in Toronto this fall.
"I'm still kind of in denial that it even happened, it's all pretty surreal," Maslany said Tuesday from Santa Monica, noting she thought there was "no way" she would win the category.
"It's like, Vera Farmiga and Claire Danes and Keri Russell — these actresses who I've been watching since I was seven and have always admired and just (are) completely out of my league. It was just crazy. Even just being in that room, I couldn't believe that I was even in that space with Bryan Cranston and Patton Oswalt and all these heroes of mine."
Online clips of the bash show Maslany's voice wavering as she accepted a trophy from presenters Jimmy Smits and Angela Bassett.
"Thank you so much to the critics — our weird little show would be nowhere without you guys talking about it," a bewildered Maslany said before going on to thank broadcasters BBC America and Space, her publicists and her hair and makeup team.
"Thank you to John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, the creators of this show, for giving me the greatest opportunity of my life.... I'm so honoured to be in this room, thank you."
The win is just the latest kudo for Maslany, who received a breakout performance special jury prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for her coming-of-age film "Grown Up Movie Star" and was named a "rising star" at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, a distinction meant to showcase the next generation of Canadian actors poised for international careers.
Maslany will be up for another best actress prize at the Television Critics Association Awards on Aug. 3. The Toronto-shot "Orphan Black" also scored a nomination for best new program.
"I think these kind of things are amazing for just the visibility that it gets you," she says of all the attention.
"Nobody's heard of me so just to get my name out there and (to know) that the critics are seeing the work I've done and the work that's happening on 'Orphan Black' and appreciating it and wanting to reward it or whatever, that's incredible and that can only help a career and only help somebody who's otherwise unknown."
The prospect of now being in the middle of Emmy chatter is "ridiculous," she adds.
"For me, the reward is doing the work and this other stuff is incredible and amazing but ... not why I do what I do. It's not the reason I'm an actor," says Maslany, who names Gena Rowlands as an actress she admires with a career she would like to emulate.
"We're very much about the career being a long-term thing and not kind of (what's) hot and that's it. Fame or any of that stuff is not in my dreams and it's not where I want to be and I just want to be working for the rest of my life so that's very much the kind of trajectory that we're trying to create."
"Orphan Black" is a particularly challenging series because it demands so many different sides of Maslany — she alternately plays a soccer mom, a street-smart British orphan, a cornrow-headed science geek, a murderous big-haired blonde and a mysterious German, among others.
"Every job is hard in a different way and this one is just a different experience for me," says Maslany, whose other upcoming projects include a feature film opposite Richard Dreyfuss and directed by Jason Priestley called "Cas & Dylan."
"The challenge of it is what made me wake up every morning and want to be on set and what made me fall in love with the project... That's what excites me about working — is challenging myself. I get bored otherwise, my attention span is really short and I want to kind of have to push against the odds a little bit."
She wouldn't say if she'll be tackling more characters in season two but hinted that the season one finale "opened more doors."
Other winners at Monday's bash included Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad" for best drama actor, comedy winners Louis C.K. and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Douglas for the TV movie "Behind the Candelabra."
"The Big Bang Theory" made the biggest bang, collecting trophies for best comedy series, best supporting comedy actor for Simon Helberg and best supporting comedy actress for Kaley Cuoco, who tied with Eden Sher of "The Middle."