Jeffrey Wright won’t make Emmy history in Best Drama Supporting Actor, but he can still join a very small club if he wins Best Drama Actor for “Westworld”: He’d be just the fifth black winner in the category.
The fourth, of course, came just last year, when Sterling K. Brown received the honor for “This Is Us” and then gave a shout-out to the third recipient, Andre Braugher (“Homicide: Life on the Street”), who won in 1998. Seven years before that James Earl Jones prevailed for the short-lived “Gabriel’s Fire.” Bill Cosby was the first black actor to win, three-peating from 1966-68 for “I Spy.”
An Emmy champ for “Angels in America,” Wright was nominated last year for “Westworld” in supporting, the only acting category that has not produced a black winner, but he lost to John Lithgow (“The Crown”). He and Ed Harris were upgraded to lead this year and both got nominations, leaving that dubious streak in supporting going for another year. (Interestingly, Drama Supporting Actor is the only acting category this year that does not have a person of color nominated.)
In our early odds, Wright is in fourth place, behind Brown, Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”) and Milo Ventimiglia (“This Is Us”), and ahead of Jason Bateman (“Ozark”) and Harris. However, one of our Experts, Eric Deggans (NPR), is predicting a victory for Wright, who remains the heart of the puzzle box series. Helping him is the fact that “Westworld” was on par with last year in its nomination count, pulling in a whopping 21 (versus 22 last year), while “This Is Us” — for which many expected a big Season 2 surge, a la “Atlanta,” which jumped from 6 to 16 nominations — underperformed, nabbing 8 nominations, down from last year’s 10.
If Wright doesn’t win, he’ll have to wait two years for his next shot with “Westworld” since Season 3 doesn’t even start production until next June.
Be sure to make your Emmy predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their TV shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before winners are announced on September 17. Be sure to also predict winners for the Creative Arts ceremonies slated for September 8 and 9. And join in the fun debate over the 2018 Emmy taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.