There was little fanfare in the lead-up to the debut of Netflix’s “Maid,” but the limited series has since taken off on the streaming service and could soon net its star, Margaret Qualley, her first individual Screen Actors Guild Award nomination after previously being nominated as part of the ensemble cast of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” in 2020.
Based on the best-selling memoir “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” by Stephanie Land, “Maid” follows Qualley’s Alex, a single mother who turns to cleaning houses to make ends meet after escaping an emotionally abusive relationship with her child’s father (Nick Robinson). Throughout the 10-episode series, Alex navigates lingering childhood trauma, complicated government assistance programs, caring for her daughter, and scrubbing toilets for next to no money. And she does it all while also looking out for her mother, Paula (played by Qualley’s own mother, Andie MacDowell), who is living with bipolar disorder but is undiagnosed and thus unmedicated.
The entire series rests squarely on the shoulders of Qualley, who gives an understated, excellent performance, approaching Alex’s successes with the right amount of trepidation because she knows very well that nothing is guaranteed and one wrong step could set her back. The actress, who previously appeared on HBO’s “The Leftovers” and was Emmy-nominated for FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” has received high praise for her work since the show launched on Netflix Oct. 1. And now she is sitting in fifth place in Gold Derby’s combined odds to receive a bid for limited series actress/TV movie at the SAG Awards. Recent Emmy winner Kate Winslet (“Mare of Easttown”) leads the pack with 16/5 odds and four Experts already predicting her to triumph here as well. She’s followed by Jennifer Coolidge (“The White Lotus,” 9/2 odds), Jessica Chastain (“Scenes From a Marriage,” 5/1 odds), Julianne Nicholson (“Mare of Easttown,” 11/2 odds), who won the supporting actress Emmy, and Qualley (15/2 odds).
It’s great company to be in, and while Emmy nominee Cynthia Erivo (“Genius: Aretha”) is sitting just behind Qualley in the odds, she’ll likely need some help to overcome the “Maid” star. As the lead of a popular limited series on Netflix, Qualley stands a very good chance of receiving a bid and following in the footsteps of reigning SAG winner Anya Taylor-Joy of “The Queen’s Gambit.” We know the guild loves Netflix, and Qualley gives a standout performance much like Taylor-Joy did. And she’s doing it at precisely the right time; SAG Award nominations come out Jan. 12, but voting opens in early December, which means Qualley’s grounded performance is likely to still be front and center in many voters’ minds. While it might not be enough to overcome Winslet down the road, it should be enough to earn the actress her first individual nomination.
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