Emmys 2021: Cecily Strong (‘Saturday Night Live’) did it her way in Season 46

Despite being on “Saturday Night Live” for nine seasons, Cecily Strong collected only her second Emmy nomination this year for her work on the NBC sketch comedy. For too long, Strong went underappreciated for her razor-sharp impressions of famous figures like Melania Trump, Tulsi Gabbard, Olivia Colman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and arguably her most notable, Judge Jeanine Pirro. She’s also proven her chops as an actress over the years, creating memorable original characters from the ground up, like Gemma, Cathy Anne and The Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started a Conversation with at a Party.

Strong was missing from the first six episodes of the season to film “Schmigadoon,” a musical comedy series that recently finished airing its first season on Apple TV+. She returned in December for the Jason Bateman-hosted episode where she didn’t miss a beat, performing a Judy Garland-esque duet with Bowen Yang in a cabaret sketch. She would go on to deliver laugh-out-loud impressions of Greene, Pirro and Donald Trump‘s former attorney, Sidney Powell, nailing not only their highly specific voices but mannerisms.

The Pirro piece during the final Weekend Update segment of the season quickly turned into Strong’s most viral moment of the year. The bit begins with Pirro railing against the new presidential administration, sloppily spilling her red wine all over anchor Colin Jost while making increasingly incoherent points. She then performs a cover of Frank Sinatra‘s “My Way,” and not to be outdone, submerges herself in an enormous tub of wine and completely douses Jost with a full glass of wine from behind. It is a tour de force that became the comedic high point of the season finale, and likely secured Strong’s nomination at the Emmys.

But can Strong pull off a big Emmy win? No cast member has won an Emmy for “SNL” since Kate McKinnon‘s back-to-back wins in 2016 and 2017, though the series continues to pull off wins in the guest categories. “Ted Lasso” standout Hannah Waddingham is the overwhelming favorite to win Best Comedy Supporting Actress, according to our latest odds, while Strong is in third place, behind another Hannah, Hannah Einbinder in “Hacks.”

What may help Strong pull through is the urgency of this potentially being her final season on “SNL,” which has not been confirmed but the finale seemed to suggest. Voters who also watched “Schmigadoon,” which will be eligible at next year’s Emmys, may be impressed with Strong’s versatility and send enough voters her way to make this a closer race than many are expecting.

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