Looking at the crop of 2017 Emmy nominees, there’s no question great talent comes from theatre, and Ann Dowd doubly proves it. The actor is nominated for two Emmys this year: one for Guest Actress in a Drama Series on HBO’s The Leftovers and one for Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
A first- (and second-) time Emmy nominee this year, Dowd earned awards for her stage work before scoring her first screen appearance. The actor won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Actress in a Principal Role in a Play in 1983 for A Different Moon at Chicago’s Next Theatre Company and again in 1984 for Kennedy’s Children with Pegasus Players. Three years later, she won a third Jefferson Award for her supporting role in The Normal Heart at Next. Meanwhile, Dowd began taking bit parts in TV series like Chicago Hope and NYPD Blue.
In 1993 Dowd won the prestigious Clarence Derwent Award for her Broadway debut in Candida. The award from Actors’ Equity Association is presented to one male and one female performer noted as the most promising of the season. Dowd returned to Broadway in 1996 in Taking Sides starring Ed Harris. Though she did play the role of Sister Aloysius in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt at the George Street Playhouse in 2007, she took more than a decade to make her third Main Stem appearance in 2008’s The Seagull.
Dowd opted for a more intimate theatre run in 2011, when she played Ethan Hawke’s mother Off-Broadway in Blood From a Stone. Dowd and her husband Lawrence Arancio (the acting chair of NYU’s CAP21 training program) have also coached actors for years.
Though Dowd has appeared as a recurring character on Showtime’s Masters of Sex and in films such as Compliance and St. Vincent, it’s her double-whammy of work in The Leftovers and The Handmaid’s Tale that caught the nominating committee’s attention this year.
After the “Sudden Departure” that led to the unexplained disappearance of two percent of the world’s population, Dowd’s Leftovers alter-ego Patti Levin headed the local Guilty Remnant chapter, the cult that served as a “Living Reminder” of the cataclysmic event. The series ended last month with Dowd as the show’s sole nomination. On the flip side, Dowd also represents the debut season of The Handmaid’s Tale as Aunt Lydia, one of the aunts who re-educate their female charges to accept their fate as handmaids in the New World Order.
Tune in to the 69th Annual Emmy Awards September 17 on CBS.