Cicely Tyson won the last of her three Emmys to date back in 1994. She is the frontrunner to win her fourth at next Saturday's Creative Arts awards as Best Drama Guest Actress for playing Ophelia, mother to Annalise (Viola Davis), on the ABC freshman series "How to Get Away with Murder."
Tyson won two Emmys for the landmark 1974 telefilm "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman" (lead actress and actress of the year). She then lost three times before winning supporting actress two decades later for "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All." Since that win, she has contended five more times, including last year as both star and producer of the telefilm "The Trip to Bountiful."
Tyson appeared in one powerful episode, "Mama's Here Now," of this hit drama. In her first scene, Ophelia walks into the house and starts shouting at her daughter Annalise. She is in a bad state because her husband cheated on her and was then murdered. Ophelia tries to throw out all of Sam's things, but Annalise won't let her. In the kitchen, Annalise reveals that she was raped as a child and asks her mother if she knew, which she did. Ophelia counters by explaining that many girls are raped by men, that's just the way it is. That night, as Ophelia is combing Annalise's hair she reveals the truth of how Annalise's rapist died: Ophelia burned down the house with him inside.
Tyson has been an awards favorite in the past few years. She won her first-ever Tony Award for the play version of "The Trip to Bountiful" in 2013. Her career will also be celebrated at the Kennedy Center Honors this December.
According to our exclusive Gold Derby odds, Tyson leads with overwhelming odds of 2/9. Six-time Emmy champ Allison Janney ("Masters of Sex") won this category last year for the same role of Margaret Scully, wife of a closeted gay man played by Beau Bridges. Last year she appeared in six episodes but this year was in just one, albeit a powerful one in which her character's husband trys to kill himself. She has odds of 14/1 to win again.
Margo Martindale ("The Americans"), is also in the running for a third year in a row for playing KGB handler Claudia. Her only appearance this season was in "I Am Abassin Zadran." She has odds of 50/1.
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Photo: Cicely Tyson in "How to Get Away With Murder." Credit: ABC/Mitchell Haaseth