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Emmy Predictions 2019: Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Opportunities abound in the supporting actress race, with a bevy of former contenders on the outs and one perennial nominee looking for her first win.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Lena Headey

Lena Headey in “Game of Thrones”

Helen Sloane/HBO

Last Year’s Winner: Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: In the last 20 years, there have only been three repeat winners in this category: Anna Gunn for “Breaking Bad” (2013 – 2014), Blythe Danner for “Huff” (2005 – 2006), and Allison Janney for “The West Wing” (2000 – 2001). Nancy Marchand is the only actress to win Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in three consecutive years: between 1980 and 1982 for playing Margaret Pynchon in  “Lou Grant.” She also won in 1978 for the same role, which is the most of any actor ever.
Fun Fact: 2018 wasn’t the only year the Emmys nominated seven actresses in the supporting actress category. In 1992, Valerie Mahaffey (“Northern Exposure”), Mary Alice (“I’ll Fly Away”), Barbara Barrie (“Law & Order”), Conchata Ferrell (“L.A. Law”), Cynthia Geary (“Northern Exposure”), Marg Helgenberger (“China Beach”), and Kay Lenz (“Reasonable Doubts”) were all up for the Emmy, and each performer represented a broadcast network. In 2018, none were.
Notable Ineligible Series: Thandie Newton, “Westworld”; Alexis Bledel, Ann Dowd, and Yvonne Strahovski, “The Handmaid’s Tale”; Vanessa Kirby, “The Crown”; Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”

At the bottom of this page are IndieWire TV Critic Ben Travers’ predictions for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (listed in alphabetical order). This article will be updated throughout the season, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for all the latest buzz from the 2019 race, and read predictions in the rest of the categories, as well. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be given out Saturday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 15. The 71st Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will take place at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 22. Fox is broadcasting the ceremony.

The State of the Race

Of all the categories to be affected by the “Game of Thrones” 2019 takeover, this one will see the most changes. With “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things,” and “The Crown” all out of the race — not to mention HBO’s own “Westworld” — only one of last year’s record-tying seven nominees remains eligible, and Lena Headey is looking to win. The beloved “GoT” star has four nominations under her belt already, but zero wins. This could be her year… unless all this fresh blood comes for the would-be queen.

First up, there’s Rhea Seehorn. Critics have been increasingly vocal about her unjustly ignored performance on “Better Call Saul,” and her presence in another Emmy favorite — she joined the “Veep” cast for its final season — should only help boost her profile across the board. Then there’s “Ozark” breakout Julia Garner. Since missing out on a nod for Season 1, she’s snagged SAG and BFCA nominations for Season 2, and she, too, has popped up in other critically acclaimed favorites like “The Americans,” “Waco,” and “Maniac.” Her star is on the rise, and the Emmys should be ready to add their own light to the blaze.

So who else is in the early lead? Headey isn’t the only “Game of Thrones” actress submitting in the supporting category. Former nominee Maisie Williams and the regularly overlooked Sophie Turner are both looking for love in their final season, while Sarah Snook (“Succession”), Dominique Fishback, and Margarita Levieva (both from “The Deuce”) are dark horse contenders for HBO. Susan Kelechi Watson and Chrissy Metz are in slightly better position for “This Is Us,” as the former gets an extra (and well-deserved) spotlight in Season 3 (and remains a fan favorite).

Fiona Shaw is looking to add to “Killing Eve’s” haul, as the BBC America drama hopes to build off its solid first year tally (two nods) and take advantage of the smaller competitor pool. “The Good Fight” has two contenders in Audra McDonald and Cush Jumbo, while the women of “Pose” — namely Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson — hope Ryan Murphy’s awards power can give them a boost on the circuit. And former Emmy winner Uzo Aduba wants back in the race for “Orange Is the New Black,” before it bids adieu.

In a perfect world, Carrie Coon (“The Sinner”), Maggie Siff (“Billions”), and Mirelle Enos (“Hanna”) would have better odds, but whether it’s low awareness, regular snubs, or genre bias, respectively, these excellent turns need a little added juice to go up against the serious contenders. After all, Sissy Spacek is being backed by the full power of Amazon here. The supporting actress race may be more open than in recent years, but it’s still tight.

Predicted Nominees:

  • Julia Garner, “Ozark”
  • Lena Headey, “Game of Thrones”
  • Rhea Seehorn, “Better Call Saul”
  • Fiona Shaw, “Killing Eve”
  • Susan Kelechi Watson, “This Is Us”
  • Maisie Williams, “Game of Thrones”

Spoilers: Sophie Turner, “Game of Thrones”; Chrissy Metz, “This Is Us”; Sissy Spacek, “Homecoming”; Audra McDonald, “The Good Fight”; Indya Moore, “Pose”

In a Perfect World: Carrie Coon, “The Sinner”; Maggie Siff, “Billions”; Mirelle Enos, “Hanna”

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