If Outlander’s strong-willed female protagonist Claire Fraser were to time-travel to the present day, she would likely be disappointed by the current political climate—what with the gender pay gap still at a mile-wide chasm, and the Hillary Clintons of the world being beaten by the Donald Trumps. (Hey, maybe she would even consider jumping the pond to help change the result of the recent U.S. presidential election.) It’s fitting, then, that in a conversation with Outlander star Caitriona Balfe on Monday, moments after she learned of her Golden Globe nomination for playing the fearless Claire Fraser, the Irish actress revealed why her character is more crucial now than ever.
“While Outlander is a brilliant period show, Claire represents so many qualities of a 20th-century modern-day woman, someone who is forging her own path, fighting for what she believes, and doing so with integrity,” Balfe said in a statement to press Monday. Elaborating exclusively to Vanity Fair, she added, “Right now it’s a very important time to stand up and voice our beliefs and reiterate that we are 50 percent of the population . . . that we have a voice and we need to use it. Even though Claire is a woman from the 40s, I think that she does have a resonance today. We need to stand up for our beliefs and our rights, and I think she embodies that kind of spirit.”
Balfe, who was alerted of her nomination mid-snooze on the set of Outlander’s third season, suggested that, while it is a difficult time to be a woman, she is lucky to be working in the current entertainment climate.
“I think that we can see by the rest of the nominees that it is a really fantastic time in the moment to have a vision, and I feel very fortunate to be working in this time,” said Balfe, who was nominated in the best-actress-in-a-television-drama category alongside The Crown’s Claire Foy, The Americans’ Keri Russell, Stranger Things’ Winona Ryder, and Westworld’s Evan Rachel Wood.
“It’s so nice to be able to look around at your peers and see the great work that they’re doing. But getting to play Claire was an absolute dream. She is strong-willed and, not perfect, but a survivor and a fighter, and I think that is such a great place to go to in your work every day—to play someone who has such resilience. It can only make you feel better about everything in your life. I feel very grateful to be able to go to work every day and play her.”