The Emmys have been making history in recent years as younger actors like Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”) and Jharrel Jerome (“When They See Us”) have risen to the top. This year the television academy could take it a step further. There’s a chance we could see all three lead actress categories go to women in their 20s.
“Euphoria” star Zendaya set a new record when she won Best Drama Actress in 2020 at the age of 24, which made her the youngest winner in the history of that category. The provocative teen drama returned for its complete second season this year after airing a couple of specials in 2020 and 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And with the reigning winner, Olivia Colman (“The Crown”), out of the running this year, Zendaya has the opportunity to swoop back in for her second trophy after she turns 26 on September 1. And indeed she is the front-runner in our odds for Best Drama Actress, just ahead of Laura Linney (“Ozark”).
Another 20-something tops our predictions for Best Movie/Limited Series Actress: 27-year-old Margaret Qualley, who earned critical acclaim for her performance as the impoverished title character in “Maid.” She earned Critics Choice and SAG Award nominations for her performance, though at those events she has had to face off against the formidable Kate Winslet (“Mare of Easttown”). But Winslet already won her Emmy last year, so Qualley won’t have to worry about her in 2022.
Best Comedy Actress will be more challenging for zoomers. The highest-ranked 20-something in our odds there is Elle Fanning (“The Great”), who will be 24 by the time the Emmys roll around this fall. Our users place her seventh with 20/1 odds. There is one current 20-something ahead of her, Selena Gomez (“Only Murders in the Building”), but she turns 30 on July 22, 10 days after the Emmy nominations are announced and about two months before the statues are handed out.
It may be difficult for Fanning to challenge returning champ Jean Smart (“Hacks”) and past winner Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), especially since “The Great” underperformed in its first season, which only received noms for writing and directing. However, Fanning did pick up her first individual Critics Choice and SAG Award noms for her performance this year, in addition to the show’s second SAG Award nomination for its ensemble cast, so don’t rule out a year-two breakthrough for her and the show.
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