2023 Emmys Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

While Quinta Brunson ("Abbott Elementary") wracked up winter awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, Jenna Ortega ("Wednesday") gives the Emmys another chance to anoint a new global superstar.
Wednesday. Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 104 of Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

We will update this article throughout the season, along with all our predictions, so make sure to keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 15 to June 26, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 12. The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be presented over two consecutive nights on Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10, with an edited presentation of the ceremonies to be broadcast on FXX at a later date. Finally, the 75th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards take place on Monday, September 18, and air live on FOX at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

One of the most pivotal points in recent Emmy history was when Zendaya won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, becoming both its youngest recipient and only the second Black woman to ever win it. In hindsight, that win was a rare moment where a TV award anointed someone as a global superstar.

That is the kind of track “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega is on if Netflix plays its cards right. Similar to her fellow Disney Channel alum, should she win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, she would be both following and succeeding “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera as only the second Latina, and youngest actress overall to receive the award. Given how the TV Academy just gave Zendaya another Emmy for the more polarizing second season of “Euphoria,” it does not seem like they would pass up another chance to be the ones to crown a new generational icon. “Wednesday” was a massive success, so voters are likely to have already watched its first season.

However, coming out of the guild awards, the frontrunner for this category has been “Abbott Elementary” star Quinta Brunson, who not only is the heart of the beloved ABC comedy, she also created it (hence her Emmy win for the pilot script last year). Brunson has become credited for bringing viewers back to network TV, but that kind of accolade highlights her work behind the scenes more than it does her performance. Sure, an acting win would be lovely, but one could assume the collaborative Brunson would prefer adding the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy to her collection, as that would encompass all the work she and her colleagues put into “Abbott Elementary.”

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
Christina Applegate, “Dead to Me” (Netflix)
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Prime Video)
Quinta Brunson, “Abbott Elementary” (ABC)
Linda Cardellini, “Dead to Me” (Netflix)
Bridget Everett, “Somebody Somewhere” (HBO)
Elle Fanning, “The Great” (Hulu)
Ana Gasteyer, “American Auto” (NBC)
Selena Gomez, “Only Murders in the Building” (Hulu)
Devery Jacobs, “Reservation Dogs” (FX)
Natasha Lyonne, “Poker Face” (Peacock)
Rose McIver, “Ghosts” (CBS)
Jenna Ortega, “Wednesday” (Netflix)
Maya Rudolph, “Loot” (Apple TV+)
Robin Thede, “A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
Kerry Washington, “Unprisoned” (Hulu)

More Comedy Category Predictions:
Outstanding Comedy Series
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

To see IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 75th Emmy Awards click here.

Last Year’s Winner: Jean Smart, “Hacks”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: With Smart out, there are not any major prospects for any kind of hot streaks. Even the network “Hacks” is on, HBO Max, has little to no prospects in the category this year.
Notable Ineligible Series: Jean Smart, “Hacks” (Season 3 was not eligible); Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish” (ended)

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