By Robyn Ross
August 21, 2018 at 03:38 PM EDT

It didn’t take Ann Dowd very long to connect with and figure out who her Handmaid’s Tale character was, despite Aunt Lydia’s evil nature.

“In the first scene the director was very clear in what she thought was going on,” Dowd tells EW in our Awardist video series. “She had been a teacher in her former life, she embraced that completely … [in the pilot scene where she is] talking to all the girls, letting them know what is expected of them, something felt right and I thought, ‘I can figure this person out.’”

Dowd, who’s nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy, also credits her wardrobe on the acclaimed Hulu series with helping her get into a character so complicit in Gilead’s rise.

“In the morning when you get ready it takes a bit, you need help doing it, and so by the time you arrive on set you have a sense of who she is physically,” Dowd shares. “And then the language is very clear, whether it’s a prayer, or an appeal to the girls or admonishing someone for where they’ve gone off the track, it all comes together.”

Watch the video above for more from Dowd. The 70th Emmy Awards will be broadcast Monday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NBC. Check out the full list of nominees here.