2024 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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 2024 Emmys race. The nomination round of voting takes place from June 13 to June 24, with the official Emmy nominations announced Wednesday, July 17. Afterwards, final voting commences on August 15 and ends the night of August 26. The 76th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards are set to take place on Sunday, September 15, and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

The State of the Race

Taking it all the way back to 2020, it goes unremarked upon that Jennifer Aniston was the frontrunner for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series with her performance in Season 1 of “The Morning Show,” the premier Apple TV+ hour-long. Zendaya winning for her work in the first season of “Euphoria” was considered an upset, as the Emmys were previously not too quick to recognize a teen drama, especially one lead by a Black actress. Maybe the writing on the wall was Aniston’s co-star Reese Witherspoon being snubbed. Vice versa could be said for Season 2, which only Witherspoon was nominated for.

Had “Shōgun” not moved categories, one would argue either of “The Morning Show” actor/producers could have this category in the bag, but the FX period piece that has exceeded all expectations also boasts the breakout performance of this TV season with star Anna Sawai as Lady Mariko. Similar to the second time Zendaya won the category, the young star has a standout episode that serves as a calling card for why she deserves the Emmy, and being able to point to just one episode as the reason one deserves awards recognition makes it easy for voters to then deliver that.

Emmy logic usually dictates that if a show has not been recognized in major categories its first season, it will probably not be recognized at all, but “The Gilded Age” being the only big Drama contender HBO has makes it more likely that people will take notice of star Carrie Coon’s work in the second season. Similar to Witherspoon, Coon has been a staple of prestige TV, but has not yet won an acting Emmy. “The Gilded Age” may not change that, but could still set her on that path.

With “The Crown” losing awards momentum in its final season, it becomes less likely that Imelda Staunton becomes the third actress to win the Emmy for playing Queen Elizabeth II on the Netflix series. Again, with new shows having a better shot at nominations, as voters only have one season to watch to catch up, it feels more likely that recent Emmy nominee Maya Erskine makes it in for the hit Prime Video series “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” or even that Carrie Preston receives a nomination for “Elsbeth,” a character she won a Guest Actress Emmy for in 2013.

All that said, Emma Stone being in the Emmys race fresh off an Oscar win for starring in “Poor Things” is kind of an elephant in the room, and her performance in “The Curse” shows off her versatility enough to convince voters to consider the actress’s first major TV performance. Though Showtime is not quite an Emmy powerhouse in the way its competitors are, it has done especially well campaigning in this category, even recently with “Yellowjackets.”

Predicted Nominees:
Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+)
Carrie Coon, “The Gilded Age” (HBO)
Maya Erskine, “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (Prime Video)
Anna Sawai, “Shōgun” (FX)
Emma Stone, “The Curse” (Showtime)
Reese Witherspoon, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV+)

Contenders:
Carrie Preston, “Elsbeth” (CBS)
Ella Purnell, “Fallout” (Prime Video)
Imelda Staunton, “The Crown” (Netflix)

In a Perfect World:
Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, “Justified: City Primeval” (FX)
Shanola Hampton, “Found” (NBC)
Patina Miller, “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” (Starz)

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

You can find IndieWire’s full set of predictions for the 76th Emmy Awards here.

Last Year’s Winner: Sarah Snook, “Succession”
Still Eligible: No.
Hot Streak: There are no possible streaks here in the traditional sense. It’s been a decade since an actress won this award in back-to-back years. However, Imelda Staunton does have a shot at becoming the third actress to win the Emmy for playing Queen Elizabeth II on “The Crown.” Her predecessors Claire Foya and Olivia Colman both won for their second seasons in the role.
Notable Ineligible Series: Sarah Snook, “Succession” (ended); Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Season 6 is not eligible); Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets” (Season 3 is not eligible); Bella Ramsey, “The Last of Us” (Season 2 is not eligible); Sharon Horgan, “Bad Sisters” (Season 2 is not eligible); Keri Russell, “The Diplomat” (Season 2 is not eligible)

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