SAG Awards nominee profile: Cate Blanchett (‘Mrs. America’) could finally be rewarded for playing Phyllis Schlafly

After Cate Blanchett won her first Screen Actors Guild Award as an ensemble member in “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2004, it took her another 10 years to conquer the remaining two film acting categories. She garnered a supporting actress win for “The Aviator” in 2005 and then a lead actress victory for “Blue Jasmine” in 2014. Now, with her performance in the miniseries “Mrs. America,” she is looking to follow in the footsteps of Helen Mirren, Viola Davis, and Allison Janney by earning a trophy in a fourth category.

Blanchett faces off against Michaela Coel (“I May Destroy You”), Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”), Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”) and Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere”) in the TV movie/limited series actress race. Coel and Taylor-Joy are SAG newcomers. Washington has competed in this category once before (“Confirmation,” 2017), in addition to an ensemble nom for the film “Ray” in 2005 and an individual citation for the TV drama “Scandal” in 2014. Kidman has been nominated three times in this category, winning for “Big Little Lies” in 2018; altogether she has been nominated 14 times by the guild.

FX’s “Mrs. America” is a nine-episode miniseries that chronicles the attempted ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment during the 1970s. Blanchett plays Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative activist who sets out to derail the efforts of progressive women by founding the “STOP ERA” campaign. Whether Schlafly is the central character of a given episode or not, Blanchett succeeds in humanizing the ire-inducing figure and in the process inspires deep conversations about gender equality. She keeps running into steamrollers on the awards scene, though, losing the Emmy to Regina King (“Watchmen”) and the Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award to Taylor-Joy.

Although Blanchett is her program’s only bid (none of her co-stars like Tracey Ullman, Margo Martindale or Emmy winner Uzo Aduba were nominated alongside her), that’s not necessarily a disadvantage at these awards. In fact, this would mark the 15th time in the category’s 27-year history that a sole representative triumphed. The most recent additions to that list were S. Epatha Merkerson (“Lackawanna Blues,” 2006), Queen Latifah (“Life Support,” 2008, and “Bessie,” 2016) and Patricia Arquette (“Escape at Dannemora,” 2019).

Aside from her three career wins, Blanchett has 11 other nominations to her name. Her winning work in “The Aviator” also brought her an ensemble bid in 2005. She additionally competed as a cast member for the first two “The Lord of the Rings” films (“The Fellowship of the Ring,” 2002, and “The Two Towers,” 2003) as well as “Babel” (2007) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2009). She has been individually recognized for her lead roles in the films “Elizabeth” (1999), “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (2008), and “Carol” (2016) and for her supporting movie turns in “Bandits” (2002), “Notes on a Scandal” (2007), and “I’m Not There” (2008). Will she now add a TV title to her trophy case?

This article is a part of Gold Derby’s “SAG Awards nominee profile” series spotlighting the 2021 contenders in film and TV.

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