Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Can Anyone Divide and Conquer a Vote Split With Emma Corrin and Olivia Colman?

·5-min read

Variety's Awards Circuit is home to the official predictions for the upcoming Emmys ceremonies from film awards editor Clayton Davis. Following history, buzz, news, reviews and sources, the Emmy predictions are updated regularly with the current year's list of contenders in all categories. Variety's Awards Circuit Prediction schedule consists of four phases, running all year long: Draft, Pre-Season, Regular Season and Post Season. The eligibility calendar and dates of awards will determine how long each phase lasts and is subject to change.

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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

AWARDS PREDICTION COMMENTARY: BAFTA TV Award snub aside, critical darling Corrin has dominated the awards space and is the de facto front-runner. There is still potential to split votes with co-star Colman, both of whom are being celebrated for the final time here, as Season 5 moves onto a new decade with fresh performers. However, it is still expected that the ingénue come out on top.

The perception of the veteran British actress is that she is a magnet for gold statues. However, the Oscar winner has never seen Emmy gold, despite three previous nominations, including in this category last year for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. Since this is her last outing as the head of the royal family, she may see a bump in votes.

The first transgender and Afro-Latina to be nominated in this category, Rodriguez garnered most of the headlines on Emmy nomination morning for making history. As she continues to be visible throughout voting, and co-star Billy Porter picks up steam in pursuit of his second Emmy, they could be a package deal. This would showcase a changing, inclusive Television Academy, but it would also bid fond farewell to a groundbreaking character and celebrate a star on the rise.

Smollett is immensely underserved and undervalued in Hollywood, which makes this nomination seem larger than those of many of her counterparts. First memorable as Michelle Tanner’s friend Denise Frazer in “Full House,” Smollett has never turned in anything less than scene-stealing work. This is especially true in HBO’s canceled series, but unfortunately, the overdue recognition may stop with a nom.

Moss’ two Emmys to date are both for the inaugural season of the Hulu dystopian drama (in this category and as an exec producer, picking up the drama series statue in 2017). Her titular character is a magnanimous symbol for female empowerment, and she has been beloved ever since the series’ launch. That goodwill could see her being the beneficiary of a split vote between the two women of “The Crown.”

The continuation of the long-beloved HBO therapy drama may have dropped too late in the television calendar to make an impact in the series race, but three-time Emmy winner Aduba could not be denied. This is her fifth overall nomination but first in a leading acting category. Coming off a supporting limited series/TV movie actress win last year for “Mrs. America,” she has heat, and in this role of Dr. Brooke Taylor, she shows a new range.

The viewing platform for Emmy nominees opens on Aug. 13, with final-round voting, beginning on Aug. 19 at 9:00 am PT until Aug. 30 at 10:00 pm PT.

Check out the full rankings of the category’s nominees in the chart below.


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AWARDS CATEGORY HISTORY (Lead Actress Drama Series)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television's most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: Tyne Daly and Michael Learned have the most awards in this category with four, while Barbara Bain, Kathy Baker, Edie Falco and Loretta Young all have three each. "Cagney & Lacey" is the series with the most awards in this category, with six.

For nominations: Angela Lansbury has the most nominations in this category with 12, which were all consecutive, failing to win. The next most nominated actors are Sharon Gless, Mariska Hargitay, Michael Learned and Julianna Margulies, with eight apiece.

"Cagney & Lacey" and "Murder, She Wrote" are the series with the most nominations in this category, with 12 each.

2021 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, is given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards recognize excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes - Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements) and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 73rd Emmy Awards are scheduled to air on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 8:00 pm est on CBS and on-demand on sister streamer Paramount Plus.

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