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Canadian actress Sandra Oh makes Emmys history with Killing Eve nomination

Ottawa native Sandra Oh made history on Thursday as the first woman of Asian heritage to be nominated for an Emmy Award for lead actress in a drama series, a category that includes another Canadian – Tatiana Maslany.

Ms. Oh is a contender for playing an operative with Britain’s Security Service, also known as MI5, hunting down a female assassin on BBC America’s Killing Eve,” which debuts in Canada on July 22 on Bravo.

The Canadian-Korean star 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.

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“I love the style, I love the genre of thriller,” Ms. Oh, 46, 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,” Ms. Oh said.

Meanwhile, Regina-born Ms. 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 the Space network. She won the Emmy in the same category in 2016 and was nominated in 2014.

Ms. 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 on Thursday.

After 17 straight years with the most Emmy nominations, HBO was overthrown by streaming service Netflix for the most nods, marking a seismic shift in the TV landscape. Lisa Bernhard reports. Reuters

In a statement, she said her nomination was “completely unexpected” and paid homage to the show’s fan base, as well as her fellow contenders, who 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,” Ms. Maslany said.

“So happy Sandra Oh’s phenomenal work is being recognized!”

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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 of the same name, 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,” Ms. Skogland said by phone on 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 Ms. 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, Ms. 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,” Ms. Skogland said.

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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.

Ms. 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.

Ms. 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.

Saturday Night Live cast members 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 Ms. Atwood’s novel Alias Grace.
  • Mychael 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.
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