Nancy Lee Grahn is a soap opera veteran with 10 Daytime Emmy nominations to her name and two victories: Best Supporting Actress for “Santa Barbara” (1989) and “General Hospital” (2012). The lion’s share of her nominations (8 out of 10) have been for “GH,” where she has played headstrong lawyer Alexis Davis for 22 years. But she has yet to win in the Best Actress race. Can she finally prevail this year as a leading lady? The winners will be announced on April 29, but they’ve already been decided in the soap opera acting categories by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. Watch Grahn’s submission above.
Grahn’s reel surrounds her topsy-turvy romance with career criminal Julian Jerome (William deVry). The first scene is a meeting at Alcoholics Anonymous where Alexis has a monologue about how she lost herself and her law license as a result of her toxic relationship with Julian. In the next scene she’s with Julian and suffering from alcohol withdrawal while she struggles to remember the events surrounding the murder of ex-convict Tom Baker, which she believes she might have committed. After seeing hallucinations of Baker and of a bloody knife in her hand, she breaks down and confesses how badly she wants to drink.
The last scene is a breakup. Alexis and Julian have just slept together, but Alexis insists that their relationship must end. As long as she is with him she and her family will be entangled in the violence of his criminal activity. His selfish nature means he will put his own interests and survival ahead of anyone else’s. And the turmoil of their relationship has been a catalyst for her drinking. But after they say their final farewells the police arrive at the door along with Alexis’s daughter Sam (Kelly Monaco) and Sam’s husband Jason (Best Actor nominee Billy Miller).
Will Grahn win Best Actress with this performance against Eileen Davidson (“The Young and the Restless”), Marci Miller (“Days of Our Lives”), Maura West (“GH”) and Laura Wright (“GH”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
The opening scene at Alcoholics Anonymous is powerful. It’s even more impressive because it’s a continuous three-and-a-half-minute monologue for Grahn to sink her teeth into. And it effectively contextualizes the scenes that follow.
Grahn’s next scene is equally impactful but tonally distinct, so she gets to demonstrate her range. In contrast to her reflective AA scene, her withdrawal is desperate and frantic, and sometimes defiantly funny as she tells Julian, “You’re making me try to remember every detail of a night where I murdered a man. It’s not calming me.” Then she reaches her emotional peak when she collapses in Julian’s arms crying, “I need help!”
Storylines about substance abuse often appeal to awards voters. Anthony Geary (“GH”) and Eric Martsolf (“Days”) have recently won Emmys for substance-abuse storylines.
Julian comes off as cold and occasionally condescending in their scenes. And given the history of their relationship — as Alexis points out, Julian let her take the fall for a murder he committed, and then he tried to murder her too — viewers may wonder why Alexis finds it so difficult to dump him.
Grahn was also nominated in 2017 for scenes involving her relationship with Julian and her descent into alcoholism, but she didn’t win for it.
Though “GH” is often an Emmy juggernaut, its lead actresses have struggled for recognition. The show has only won Best Actress three times before, and two of those wins were for women Grahn is up against this year: Maura West and Laura Wright.
Be sure to make your Daytime Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on April 29. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Daytime Emmys taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our daytime TV forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.