In addition to winning last year’s Emmy race for Best Comedy Actress, Jean Smart (“Hacks”) claimed all of the other major TV awards bestowed by the Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Television Critics Association and, yes, even Gold Derby. At this stage of the 2022 Emmys derby, Smart is the de facto front-runner to gallup across the finish line yet again, but she’s hardly the only horse in this race. Joining her currently in the Top 7 are Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”), Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”), Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”), Issa Rae (“Insecure”), Sarah Lancashire (“Julia”) and Selena Gomez (“Only Murders in the Building”).
Scroll down to see Gold Derby’s Comedy Actress Emmy predictions 2022, listed in order of their racetrack odds. Our Emmy odds are based on the combined forecasts of thousands of readers, including Experts we’ve polled from major media outlets, Editors who cover awards year-round for this website, Top 24 Users who did the best predicting last year’s nominations, All-Star Users who had the best prediction scores over the last two years, and the mass of Users who make up our biggest predictions bloc.
1. Jean Smart (“Hacks”) — 7/2 odds
At 70 years old, this legendary actress joined an elite club of people who swept an entire awards season thanks to her role as veteran Las Vegas stand-up comedian Deborah Vance on the HBO Max comedy. In her various speeches, Smart thanked her co-star Hannah Einbinder, who plays a young writer hired to shake up Deborah’s stand-up routine. At first the two characters clash at every turn, but they soon grow to respect each other. Smart has three other Emmys on her mantel for “Samantha Who?” (2008) and “Frasier” (2000 & 2001).
2. Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”) — 5/1 odds
After more than a two-year delay due to Covid, the period dramedy returned to Amazon Prime in February and continued the story of a 1960s divorcee who becomes a stand-up comedian. In Season 4, Brosnahan’s Midge struggles to stay afloat both professionally and with her family after she’s unexpectedly fired by her musician boss. Brosnahan claimed the Best Comedy Actress statue right out of the gate in 2018, but lost for the second season to Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”) and the third season to Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”). Might she win a bookend trophy this year?
3. Quinta Brunson (“Abbott Elementary”) — 13/2 odds
A month ago, this funny lady was in fifth place in this category, but now she’s jumped up to third place. ABC’s mockumentary-style comedy stars Brunson as Janine Teagues, a Philadelphia public school teacher who genuinely wants to help her students. While her name may be unknown to your average TV Academy member, they’ll likely know her face from her appearances on “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and her viral Instagram and BuzzFeed videos. Brunson also created and produces “Abbott Elementary,” which has an impressive 97% score at Rotten Tomatoes.
4. Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”) — 7/1 odds
HBO Max was blessed with two nominees in this category last year: Smart and Cuoco. Might their potential rematch at the 2022 Emmys wind up differently for Cuoco? She plays Cassie Bowden on “The Flight Attendant,” a woman who now works part time at the CIA after becoming involved in a murder investigation back in the first season. One thing Cuoco has going for her this year is that she gets to play multiple Cassies in dream-like sequences. That’s the kind of Emmy bait voters can’t enough of — just look at previous winners like Toni Collette (she had multiple personalities in “United States of Tara”) and Tatiana Maslany (she played countless clones in “Orphan Black”).
5. Issa Rae (“Insecure”) — 8/1 odds
If there’s such a thing as an Emmy goodbye hug, Rae could benefit from it as “Insecure” ended this year after a five-season run on HBO. Emmy voters have run hot and cold on the comedy series, with Rae only nabbing two prior acting noms for playing Issa Dee (2018 and 2020) and the show itself earning just a single bid for Best Comedy Series (2020). The good news is that “Insecure” can now call itself an Emmy winner after claiming the picture editing prize in 2020, the last time the show was eligible.
6. Sarah Lancashire (“Julia”) — 14/1 odds
The comedy series about the life of celebrity chef Julia Child streamed from March to May on HBO Max. Lancashire is a favorite of the British Academy Television Awards, earning two bids apiece for “Last Tango in Halifax” and “Happy Valley.” She also scored a Critics Choice Award mention for “The Dresser” in 2016. The English actress is receiving raves for her role as Child, with Caroline Framke (Variety) raving she plays her “with empathetic precision” and Daniel Fienberg (The Hollywood Reporter) noting how she delivers a “towering — in every sense — central performance.”
7. Selena Gomez (“Only Murders in the Building”) — 15/1 odds
On the Hulu hit series, Gomez plays the dry and urbane millennial Mabel to Steve Martin and Martin Short‘s more hilariously broad comedic duo. The music superstar has been acting for most of her life, but this is the first time she’s received serious awards acclaim for a role. In a savvy move, Hulu has decided to debut the second season of “Only Murders” smack-dab during the middle of Emmy voting, which will help make her top of mind as voters go to mark their ballots.
Also watch out for: Elle Fanning (“The Great”), Natasha Lyonne (“Russian Doll”), Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”), Sandra Oh (“The Chair”), Pamela Adlon (“Better Things”), Cecily Strong (“Schmigadoon”) and Maya Erskine (“PEN15”).
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