Jalal’s Take: Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Supporting Actress

Jalal Haddad takes a look at the Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy race in the first of many posts leading up to the Emmy nominations announcement on July 14th. Over the next month, Jalal will be providing his own expert analysis in individual races and covering the top ten contenders in each category. 

1. Uzo Aduba (Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren), Orange Is The New Black

Aduba has never lost a competitive award voted on by her peers for her role as fan favorite Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren. She’s won two Emmys (in the guest and supporting categories) and two SAG awards.  History has proven that when Emmy voters like someone, they really really like someone. I wouldn’t be surprised if Uzo Aduba became the new Don Knotts at the Emmys. Aduba had a lot of interesting material to work with throughout season three including dramatic material processing the death of Vee and comedic moments where she writes science fiction erotica. Her only hindrance towards a third consecutive win is the backlash against Orange Is the New Black’s disappointing third season, although that didn’t dissuade SAG voters.

2. Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Game of Thrones   


Clarke has been nominated for the third and fifth seasons of Game of Thrones and as pundits have pointed out her nominations have corresponded with major story arcs and scenes with her three dragons. Similar to how Headey’s Cersei dominated Game of Thrones coverage last year, Daenerys has commanded the coverage this year with her storylines and discussion on whether or not she will end up being the villain of the series. The more she stays at the forefront of the blogosphere by riding dragons or assassinating every remaining Khal the better chance she has at becoming the dark horse to win the award. She will also benefit from starring in Me Before You while Emmy voters are filling out their nominations ballot, which will only help them embrace her more.

3. Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Game of Thrones   


Headey entered season six after her infamous scene (her walk of ‘atonement’) and she has been given a lot of ‘Emmy friendly’ material that makes Cersei a much more sympathetic character. She is recovering from the trauma of last season’s entrapment and shame walk, coping with the murder of her only daughter, and overall she has her sights on revenge. I could easily make the argument that Headey will finally win her first Emmy this year but she risks a huge chance of splitting the vote with Emilia Clarke who has also been getting some of her best material.  Vote splitting is probably to blame for Headey losing last year and it will probably continue to affect both actresses unless one of them is surprisingly left out.

4. Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart), The Good Wife 


Baranski has been nominated for 14 Emmys over the past 21 years including six times for her supporting role as Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife. In fact, she has been nominated more times for The Good Wife than previous winners like Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi. Voters aren’t likely to suddenly abandon someone like Baranski in the final season of a show they have always admired. Love for Diane Lockhart is so high amongst fans that there are even rumors that there will be a show centered around her on CBS’s new streaming platform. Along with the other usual suspects in the category Baranski is probably a lock for a nomination.

5. Dame Maggie Smith (Lady Violet Crawley), Downton Abbey  

Violet Crawley

When Downton Abbey premiered Dame Maggie Smith was suddenly one of the most buzzed about actresses on television for her snarky one-liners on the British period drama. To date she has won two Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and an individual SAG award for her performance as Lady Crawley. In the past most bloggers and pundits (including myself) would have said it would be impossible for Emmy voters to ignore her but last year she was shockingly left out of the supporting race. Voters become sentimental with their votes when their favorite shows are ending and their sentimentality will push Smith to a fifth and final nomination for her quick-tongued one-liners.

6. Neve Campbell (Leann Harvey), House of Cards

House of Cards

The final slot in the supporting actress category is a bit of a wild card. I’m going out on a limb and predicting that voters will end up nominating Campbell for a small-ish role on a show they love. The bulk of her screentime was mostly in the first couple episodes but her role as Claire’s top aide was the best part of those episodes. I could be overestimating Campbell but more voters are probably watching and admiring House of Cards right now than any of the other shows mentioned below.

7. Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), Downton Abbey 


Froggatt has been nominated multiple times by the television academy (and foreign press) for her performance as Anna Bates and her recognition makes a lot of since the writers usually give her some of the flashiest material of each season (her husband on death row, sexual assault, pregnancy issues). However over the years fans of the show (myself included) have grown tired of her and Mr. Bates. Compared to the other supporting players on Downton Abbey she is given little to do in the final season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her left out. If she does end up being nominated she has the laziness of Emmy voters to thank.

8. Margo Martindale (Ruth Eastman), The Good Wife 


Martindale has become an Emmy darling ever since she won her first statue five years ago for her supporting performance on Justified. Her three guest nominations (and one surprise win) are the only major Emmy attention The Americans has received. Throughout The Good Wife’s final season she played the campaign manager of Peter Florrick. The Good Wife isn’t as popular as it used to be but it does have a passionate fan base and so does Martindale in general. I haven’t been watching this season of The Good Wife and don’t know much about her role other than who she plays but I will never underestimate the power of Margo when it comes to the acting branch.

9. Rhea Seehorn (Kim Wexler), Better Call Saul 

- Better Call Saul _ Season 2, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Ursula Coyote/ Sony Pictures Television/ AMC

Seehorn would be an excellent addition to the supporting actress lineup. She gives probably the most interesting performance on a show that is essentially a character drama and she has gained a lot of fans along the way (including the ADTV team!). Her biggest obstacle might be that Better Call Saul might be dwindling in popularity amongst the general public. Ratings have slightly dipped and although the show still has a base of hardcore fans the buzz around the show seems to not be there this season. Seehorn probably isn’t a big enough name to break into a category filled with well-known actors on shows that voters probably like a lot more.

10. Constance Zimmer (Quinn King), UnReal 


UnReal was one of the best new shows of the past year and Zimmer deservingly won the supporting actress award at the Critics’ Choice last January. Unfortunately for Zimmer, Emmy voters don’t pay attention to precursor awards like the Oscars do. In fact, most winners at the critics’ choice awards aren’t even nominated at the Emmys. Zimmer has been building up name recognition on very Emmy friendly shows over the past ten years with performances on House of Cards, The Newsroom, Entourage, Boston Legal, and Grey’s Anatomy. If enough voters start to recognize her and like the show she might be the surprise nominee of the year (like Nash was last year). Unfortunately, voters have network bias and will probably ignore a show like UnReal since it is programmed between campy TV movies and trashy reality shows. Even though the cards are stacked against her if the award was purely on merit Zimmer would be the frontrunner.

Honorable Mentions: Maura Tierney, Laura Carmichael, Regina King, Jayne Atkinson, Olivia Wilde

Readers, which six actresses do you think will be nominated come announcement morning? Are we completely overestimating or underestimating someone on this list? Sound off below in the comments!

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