4 reasons why Sarah Snook (‘Succession’) is heir apparent to the Drama Supporting Actress Emmy

The Drama Supporting Actress category is shaping up to be one of the trickiest to predict at Sunday’s Primetime Emmy Awards. While more than half of Gold Derby’s editors and Emmy experts bet on Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”) to claim her first prize, a handful of others see an upset looming for either last year’s victor Julia Garner (“Ozark”) or first-time nominee Sarah Snook, who plays the calculating and ambitious Shiv Roy on HBO’s sophomore sensation “Succession.”

Though it may seem insurmountable for an Emmy newcomer like Snook to best her competition of previous winners, repeat nominees, and even a duo of Academy Award champions, she has both the performance and recent Emmy history on her side. Below, I outline the four reasons why I’m unwavering in my prediction of a Snook surprise.

WATCH our exclusive interview with Sarah Snook

Snook fits a decade-long trend in the category
In the past 10 years, the Drama Supporting Actress award has gone to a first-time winner six times, including Julia Garner (“Ozark”) in 2019, Thandie Newton (“Westworld”) in 2018, Ann Dowd (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) in 2017, Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) in 2013, Margo Martindale (“Justified”) in 2011, and Archie Panjabi (“The Good Wife”) in 2010. Only Gunn and Maggie Smith (“Downton Abbey”) won twice in the decade, and only Gunn won her two trophies consecutively. If this trend continues, it bodes particularly well for first-time nominee Snook’s chances. Bonham Carter also fits the bill, but her first Emmy bid dates back 22 years, so voters won’t feel like they “discovered” her or may not remember that she hasn’t ever won.

Snook will have the undivided support of “Succession” fans
“Succession” has far and away the most acting nominations of any drama series this Emmy cycle with nine bids. While this support seems like an unbeatable edge, the show actually competes against itself in Drama Actor, Drama Supporting Actor, and Drama Guest Actress, which could very well lead to losses in those categories. Snook is the only “Succession” performer nominated in her category, which means that fans of the series in the acting branch will be united in voting for Snook. While this also applies to Bonham Carter and Garner, their series both underperformed in acting nominations, suggesting that Snook likely has the backing of more acting-branch voters.

SEE Emmy episode analysis: Sarah Snook (‘Succession’) vies for an offer she cannot refuse in ‘The Summer Palace’

Snook feels like a Lead in “Succession” Season 2
Though Brian Cox and Jeremy Strong are the two official leading performances on “Succession,” Snook has one of the most prominent character arcs of the second season, which certainly won’t hurt when voters weigh her performance against her competitors’. In the season premiere, which Snook submitted to Emmy voters, Shiv negotiates a covert deal with her father (Cox) to take the reins of his media empire, a storyline that unfolds over the course of the season. Snook’s performance takes center stage in many episodes, especially in the penultimate “DC,” which features one of her best scenes in which Shiv manipulates a whistleblower threatening her father’s company. Snook’s screen-time and such standout moments no doubt came to voters’ minds when they cast their ballots.

The acting branch just recently discovered “Succession”
“Succession” scored five Emmy nominations last year, but none for its virtuoso cast. Its jump from zero to nine acting bids this time around tells prognosticators that the actor’s branch just caught up with the series, and many voters likely had both seasons in mind when picked their winners. This recent discovery of “Succession” not only gives Snook arguably double the screen-time of her fellow nominees––and gives voters a full look at the compelling evolution of her performance––but it also emulates the awards trajectory of last-year’s Emmy juggernaut “Fleabag,” which was similarly found by voters only after its second season and won six trophies. Despite its awards haul, “Fleabag” only took home one acting prize, and if “Succession” likewise nabs just one acting win, Snook has the clearest path to victory.

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