“General Hospital” star Genie Francis got an early birthday present this year: on May 24 she was announced as one of the five nominees for Best Actress at the 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards, two days ahead of the veteran actress’s 59th birthday. But despite playing the character off and on since 1977 and making Laura Webber one of the most iconic heroines in soaps, her recognition from the television academy has been relatively scant. Will this be her year?
Francis didn’t receive a single Daytime Emmy nomination until 1997 when she also contended for Best Actress. That was 20 years after she first showed up in Port Charles. She lost to Jess Walton (“The Young and the Restless”) and wasn’t nominated again before leaving the series in 2002. The good news for her was that her brief return to the show in 2006 finally earned her the gold: she won Best Supporting Actress (she wasn’t entered as a lead that year because she only appeared for a few weeks). But that was it for Laura.
She earned one more Best Supporting Actress nom in 2012 for her stint as Genevieve Atkinson on “The Young and the Restless” (she lost to her former “GH” co-star Nancy Lee Grahn). But that was it until now. This year’s bid means she has been nominated exactly once in each of the last four decades: 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. Four career nominations and just one win in the supporting category.
That’s better than the track record of a lot of other soap stars at the Daytime Emmys, but it’s strange that she has been so under-rewarded compared to her most famous co-star, Anthony Geary. As Luke and Laura, they were arguably the most celebrated supercouple in soap opera history, but Geary won eight Best Actor Emmys out of 16 nominations between 1981 and 2016. So Francis has only half as many career nominations as Geary has wins. What accounts for such an imbalance?
Geary retired from “GH” in 2017, and now Laura is married to psychiatrist Kevin Collins (Jon Lindstrom). With her first lead-actress nomination in 24 years, will Francis finally get her due? She’s up against two of her co-stars — past Best Actress champ Finola Hughes and the aforementioned Grahn — as well as Melissa Claire Egan (“The Young and the Restless”) and recent Best Actress victor Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (“The Bold and the Beautiful”).
Francis won’t have to worry about vote-splitting since nominees and winners are decided in a single round and voters scored all of the submitted performances instead of picking just one winner or ranking them against each other. And “GH” earned by far the most nominations this year (21), which is a strong sign of support for the show across the board. so perhaps now is the time for Laura to finally rise to the top.
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