Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) has won five Emmys in a row for Best Comedy Actress. So is this year’s race just a foregone conclusion? Can all non-Julias stay home when awards are handed out this September? Not necessarily. Gold Derby editors Tom O’Neil, Paul Sheehan, Daniel Montgomery and Marcus James Dixon debate who will take the prize. Watch our editors’ slugfest above or listen to the podcast version below.
“Julia Louis-Dreyfus … is set possibly to break that record for the most wins for Best Lead Actress set by Candice Bergen [‘Murphy Brown’],” says O’Neil. “But she also won for ‘New Adventures of Old Christine,’ and she also won for ‘Seinfeld.’ That brings her up to seven. One more and she’s tying Cloris Leachman for the most wins in primetime.” Leachman is the current record-holder at the Primetime Emmys with eight wins as a performer, plus one in daytime for a total of nine acting prizes.
“And guess who else is in this category: Allison Janney, who has moved up from supporting to lead, which is just what she did with ‘The West Wing,’ and it worked the last time,” O’Neil reminds us. Janney won two Emmys for Best Comedy Supporting Actress for “Mom” (2014-2015), so now she’s trying her luck with the leading ladies; when she moved up from supporting to lead on “The West Wing,” she won. “She’s got seven wins. One more win for her ties Cloris Leachman — Cloris Leachman has a lot of people to hate here.”
Sheehan notes, “Very smart on the part of Allison Janney to move up. Because the show ‘Mom’ has morphed. Anna Faris was the mom when it first started — Allison Janney plays her mother as a secondary character. In a way they’re kind of forgetting about Anna Faris’s kids, and now the relationship really is between her and Allison Janney. It’s a legitimate move up, it’s not category fraud.”
So Louis-Dreyfus has to worry about Emmy darling Janney in this race — anyone else? How about Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)? “She won the Golden Globe, she has a lot of good will,” Montgomery explains. “She gives great speeches when she wins, these very gratifying speeches — and speeches that remind audiences of the historic nature of it. It’s been 30 or more years since a black actress has won.” To be exact, it’s been 38 years since the first and only black woman won Best Comedy Actress: Isabel Sanford (“The Jeffersons,” 1979). So Emmy voters could choose to make history in another way — and I bet that’s the history Leachman would prefer.
O’Neil brings up several other major contenders in the race, including Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”), Issa Rae (“Insecure”) and Sarah Jessica Parker (“Divorce”). Who will win? See O’Neil’s Emmy picks here. See Sheehan’s here. See Montgomery’s here. See Dixon’s here. See the racetrack odds of all of Gold Derby’s website editors.
Video produced by David Janove and Andrew Merrill
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