Last Year’s Winner: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Still Eligible: Yes.
Hot Streak: Yes, Emmys Queen Louis-Dreyfus’ winning streak is at five years, but if she earns one more nomination, she’ll be the most nominated lead actress of all time.
Fun Fact: In the last 10 years, Louis-Dreyfus has been nominated nine times: five times for “Veep,” and four times for “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” In the last 24 years, there have only been eight Emmys ceremonies without Louis-Dreyfus as a nominee.
Let’s assume Louis-Dreyfus is going to break the aforementioned record and look upon the remaining five slots. Lily Tomlin (“Grace and Frankie”) and Tracee Ellis Ross (“black-ish”) have only gained momentum since their nominations last year, and Ellie Kemper’s first nod for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” for Season 2 emphasizes how much voters like the series. We expect the admiration to continue for Season 3.
With Amy Schumer and Laurie Metcalf out of the running, that leaves two open slots for newcomers. As far as debut seasons go, Drew Barrymore will try to ride the Netflix train to a nomination for “Santa Clarita Diet,” while Amazon can push Phoebe Waller-Bridge (“Fleabag”), Tig Notaro (“One Mississippi”), and Kathryn Hahn (“I Love Dick”) without any interference from “Transparent” (which submits all its actresses in the supporting category). FX can counter with Pamela Adlon, who doubles as the co-creator of “Better Things” (and should be a joy to behold on the campaign trail), and NBC will be pushing Kristen Bell for “The Good Place.”
Meanwhile, a few under-the-radar actors have rising profiles that could help them break into the race. Constance Wu remains fantastic in “Fresh Off the Boat,” and the show’s topical storylines this season could boost her chances. Moreover, Wu has been a vocal advocate for human rights on Twitter, making herself known beyond the ABC audience. And while HBO has Louis-Dreyfus to back, they also have one more year with Lena Dunham — who’s never won an Emmy. Her final year on “Girls” could serve as its own rallying cry, landing Dunham her first nomination since 2014.
And less we forget, HBO has a couple of well-received freshman comedies starring two voter-friendly leads: Issa Rae in “Insecure” and Sarah Jessica Parker in “Divorce.” Parker was a six-time nominee and one-time winner for “Sex and the City,” so she’s in good position to get back in Emmys’ good graces with her first series regular role (and return to HBO) since then. Rae, meanwhile, will aim to maintain momentum after her Golden Globe nomination.
Below are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series (in alphabetical order), which will be updated throughout the awards season. Make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz and highlights from the 2017 race, and read the rest of the predictions in all categories, as well.
- Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
- Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
- Sarah Jessica Parker, “Divorce”
- Issa Rae, “Insecure”
- Tracee Ellis Ross, “black-ish”
- Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”
Spoilers: Phoebe Waller-Bridge, “Fleabag”; Aya Cash, “You’re the Worst”; Minnie Driver, “Speechless”
In a Perfect World: Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”; Tig Notaro, “One Mississippi”; Michaela Watkins, “Casual”