It’s no lie: Jean Smart has never been nominated for a solo Screen Actors Guild Award. Despite being an 11-time Emmy nominee and four-time champ, she reaped her to date only SAG Award nom as a member of the “24” ensemble in 2007. But after bagging the comedy actress award for “Hacks” and a limited series/TV movie supporting actress bid for “Mare of Easttown” at the Emmys, she is poised to finally be recognized individually by her peers, with not just one but two solo nominations.
You might be wondering why it’s taken so long for the stars to seemingly align in Smart’s favor at the SAG Awards given her success at the Emmys. While she’s earned all her Emmy nominations within the SAG Awards’ period of existence, bear in mind that before “Hacks,” she had never been shortlisted for a lead performance. Of her nine pre-2021 bids, she accrued five in guest and four in supporting, winning twice for comedy guest actress for “Frasier” in 2000 and ’01 and once for comedy supporting actress for “Samantha Who?” in ’08. And since the SAG Awards do not have separate lead and supporting categories in TV, Smart likely suffered from having to compete against other shows’ leading ladies.
However, now that she is fresh off her first lead acting Emmy nom and win for “Hacks,” she’s presumably in a better position to snag her maiden individual SAG Award bid than ever before. As of this writing, she is comfortably in first place in the odds to win TV comedy actress for her turn as comedy pioneer Deborah Vance on the HBO Max series. But that’s no surprise. The last person to win the Best Comedy Actress Emmy and be eligible but omitted at the ensuing SAG Awards was Julia Louis-Dreyfus for “Veep’s” first season in 2013. And considering “Veep” was completely shut out at the SAG Awards that year but still went on to net a total of 10 nominations and four victories — including five and three, respectively, for Louis-Dreyfus individually — over the course of its seven-season run, it’s possible voters just hadn’t caught on to the series at that point yet.
That’s probably not going to be the case with “Hacks,” which blew up with 15 bids for its debut season at the Emmys (versus “Veep’s” three for its first season at the 2012 Emmys). Most importantly, it over-performed in the acting categories, also scaring up nominations for supporting actors Hannah Einbinder and Carl Clemons-Hopkins, and guest star Jane Adams. Since there is a membership overlap between the TV academy’s actors’ branch and SAG-AFTRA, the former’s support of the show could be indicative of the latter’s. Presently, “Hacks” is also forecasted to rack up a TV comedy ensemble nom, per our odds, where it’s in second place.
For Smart, the bigger hurdle will probably be nabbing the nom for “Mare” in the limited series/TV movie actress category. That’s because she faces internal competition from her co-stars Kate Winslet and Julianne Nicholson, who took home lead and supporting actress Emmys, respectively, for the HBO series. While Winslet (No. 1) and Nicholson (No. 4) are firmly in the top five in our odds, Smart is currently down in 10th place. But “Mare” wouldn’t be the first show to produce three nominees in this category. “Big Little Lies” (Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, 2018), “Temple Grandin” (Claire Danes, Catherine O’Hara and Julia Ormond, 2011) and “Angels in America” (Mary Louise-Parker, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson, 2004) have all managed to pull this off in the past. What “Mare” has in common with all three of these programs is that it not only aired on HBO but also won all of its acting categories at the Emmys, having also netted the supporting actor statuette for Evan Peters. If SAG-AFTRA is here for “Mare” as much as the TV academy’s actors’ branch was, it’s possible that Smart just gets swept up in the former’s love for the show. After all, she quickly became a fan favorite as Helen Fahey, the tough, comedic foil to her onscreen daughter Winslet.
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