Emmy experts predict Comedy Actress: Tracee Ellis Ross puts pressure on Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Emmy voting got underway on Monday, June 12, so now that voters have ballots in hand — or rather, online –the state of the race is more consequential than ever. In the race for Best Comedy Actress, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“Veep”) is the frontrunner to win for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, but Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”) is breathing down her neck. And according to our Experts, there are more potential challengers with a serious shot at the title.

Out of the 18 Expert TV journalists we’ve polled from major media outlets, 15 are betting on Louis-Dreyfus to win again: Debra Birnbaum (Variety), Eric Deggans (NPR), Joyce Eng (TV Guide), Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Matthew Jacobs (Huffington Post), Kerr Lordygan (Rotten Tomatoes), Tom O’Neil (Gold Derby), Robert Rorke (New York Post), Matt Roush (TV Guide Magazine), Paul Sheehan (Gold Derby), Anne Thompson (IndieWire), Ken Tucker (Yahoo), Adnan Virk (ESPN) and Jarett Wieselman (Buzzfeed).

Louis-Dreyfus has never lost for this role and has won a remarkable nine Emmys overall — seven for acting and two for Best Comedy Series as a producer of “Veep.” One more acting victory would tie her with Cloris Leachman as the most awarded performer at the Primetime Emmys, though Leachman has an extra acting Emmy in daytime, so she would retain the overall record — for now.

Ross appears to be Louis-Dreyfus’s biggest challenger, getting support from our other three Experts: Lynette Rice (Entertainment Weekly), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) and Glenn Whipp (LA Times). It would be the second straight nomination and first win for Ellis Ross, but she and the show have been on a hot streak of late. She just won Best TV Comedy Actress at the Golden Globes, where “Black-ish” also received its first nomination for Best Comedy Series. Then the show earned its first SAG nomination for Best TV Comedy Ensemble.

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None of the Experts are predicting a victory for newcomer Issa Rae (“Insecure”), but they’re unanimous that the breakout star will receive her first nomination. She enjoyed breakthrough success last fall playing Issa in HBO’s critically acclaimed comedy, which she also co-created, writes and produces. Her performance already earned her a Golden Globe nomination, so now she’s aiming to make her Emmy debut.

Ellie Kemper (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) will score a return nomination, according to 12 of our Experts. She received her first nomination in this category last year, and she has also received two consecutive SAG Award bids for Best Comedy Actress. Her show has also been Emmy nominated for Best Comedy Series for the last two years.

Also with the backing of 12 Experts is Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”), who is one of the biggest awards darlings in the race. She has won six Primetime Emmys out of 23 nominations, which includes two consecutive bids in this category for playing Frankie, a free spirit whose husband leaves her for another man. She also has one Daytime Emmy win out of five nominations. She’s a past Oscar nominee (Best Supporting Actress for “Nashville,” 1975) and a Grammy winner. On top of all that she received the Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association in 2016 and the Life Achievement Award from SAG in 2017. To say the least she’s beloved by the industry.

So is Allison Janney (“Mom”), who is forecast by 11 Experts for a nomination. For the last three years she has been nominated for Best Comedy Supporting Actress for her role in the CBS sitcom, winning twice (2014-2015), but now she’s aiming for a promotion. Like Louis-Dreyfus she’s a seven-time acting winner looking to tie Cloris Leachman’s record, and though switching categories can be risky, it did pay off for Janney when she made the exact same move on “The West Wing,” winning twice as a supporting player (2000-2001) and then twice more as a lead (2002, 2004).

Four Experts think Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) will earn a nom for her acclaimed British series, which streamed on Amazon. There are also four Experts predicting a return nomination for Sarah Jessica Parker (“Divorce”), who previously won Emmys for Best Comedy Series (2001) and Best Comedy Actress (2004) for “Sex and the City.”

There are two Experts apiece forecasting bids for past Emmy winner Jane Fonda (“Grace and Frankie”), past Emmy nominee Minnie Driver (“Speechless”) and SAG nominee Kathryn Hahn (“I Love Dick”). And in this highly competitive race there is one Expert apiece predicting a bid for Emmy winners Tracey Ullman (“Tracey Ullman’s Show”) and Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”), Emmy nominees Lena Dunham (“Girls”) and Tig Notaro (“One Mississippi”), and Kristen Bell (“The Good Place”).

Best Comedy Actress Emmy contenders: Watch exclusive interviews with Allison Janney, Tracee Ellis Ross and more

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