Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Zendaya Set to Make Emmys History With ‘Euphoria’

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Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official awards predictions for the upcoming Oscars and Emmys ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis; Awards Circuit Column, a weekly analysis dissecting the trends and contenders by television editor Michael Schneider (for Emmys) and Davis (for Oscars); Awards Circuit Podcast, a weekly interview series with talent and an expert roundtable discussion; and Awards Circuit Video analyzes various categories and contenders by Variety's leading awards pundits. Variety's unmatched coverage gives its readership unbeatable exposure in print and online, as well as provide inside reports on all the contenders in this year's awards season races.

To see all the latest predictions, of all the categories, in one place, visit THE EMMYS COLLECTIVE
Visit each category, per the individual awards show from THE EMMYS HUB
To see old predictions and commentary, click the EMMY PREDICTIONS ARCHIVES
For film awards predictions go toTHE OSCARS HUB

UPDATED: June 23, 2022



One of the biggest stars in the world, Zendaya made history by becoming the youngest and second Black woman to win lead actress drama for her work as Rue in the HBO drama show “Euphoria.” When you think she couldn’t get any better, she outdoes herself in the second season, perhaps becoming an undeniable choice as the weeks progress towards nomination voting. Along with being an executive producer, she also could be the youngest and double nominated person in Emmy history.

One of the breakout stars of the year, Britt Lower is incredibly complex and present in the Apple TV+ series “Severance” helmed by Ben Stiller. As Helly, a woman who is living two separate lives, she adds to the mystery, getting her best acting moments in the suspenseful finale. She faces less screentime than her other contenders, as she straddles the line between lead and supporting.

Egregiously nominated only once for her work as Rebecca Pearson in the NBC drama series, Mandy Moore goes out with a bang in the show’s “final chapter.” Very few television pieces are able to drum up a substantial amount of support for their final seasons a la “Schitt’s Creek” but something tells us that “This Is Us” is going to have a strong showing. Undeniably her gift in television history, Moore could be one of those benefactors with an overdue statuette.

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Tawny Cypress as Taissa in YELLOWJACKETS, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi”. Photo credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME.
Courtesy of Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Told through two storylines, the adult version of the soccer team that gets stranded on an island gives all deliver masterclasses in acting across the board, with the Oscar-nominated Juliette Lewis delivering some of her best work in years. Her obstacle will be not splitting votes with her other contending co-stars, Melanie Lynskey and Tawny Cypress, who also have their devoted fans for the Showtime drama.

There’s a renaissance in the industry for Lynskey, the New Zealand native who received praise for her turn in the film “Don’t Look Up” (2021), which was released around the time her work in “Yellowjackets” was being unveiled to the world. The Showtime series stands as one of her single greatest performances yet, and along with giving her all in the limited series “Candy,” it only serves as a reminder that her Shauna, is simply perfection and wonderfully orchestrated. The Critics Choice win also provides a boost.

In the awards pundit world, we consider Laura Linney, the awards whisperer, always contending, even when conventional wisdom may tell us she’s not. This is proven by her surprise win for “The Big C” and landing a surprise Oscar nom for “The Savages” (2007). However, when everyone agrees that she’s contending for another statuette, the floodgates usually open for her in a palpable way. Her work in the final season of Netflix’s “Ozark” will be a continuous topic of the conversation throughout the voting period, and summer months, which could net her another win.

The Emmy-winning actress of “Friends” is back with her work in the Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” which netted her another nom for the first season. While the show didn’t have a large impact like its inaugural kickoff, name recognition goes a long way with the TV Academy, and Jennifer Aniston is likely to remain at the top of their minds.

The surprise winner of the first season, Jodie Comer is coming off a big year in Hollywood with acclaimed turns in films such as “The Last Duel” and “Free Guy.” Walking out of the final season of the BBC America drama show “Killing Eve” could give her, and her co-star Sandra Oh, “farewell” nominations for their beloved characters, if they don’t vote split.

Oh became the first Asian actress to be nominated in lead actress drama, for the first season, famously losing to her co-star. Coming into the conversation with the comedy series “The Chair” from Netflix, she’s doubly present on the circuit, which could push her near the top for both series.

What the industry learned from the sweeps of “The Crown” and “Schitt’s Creek” over the last two years, is the TV Academy has a hard time keeping up with “everything.” The result of this, often brings actors with multiple projects, sneaking into the conversation in various spaces, because they’re already guaranteed in another category. With Toni Collette‘s work in HBO’s “The Staircase” contending in lead actress limited, her work in the Netflix’s “Pieces of Her” could make a surprise entry.

Read moreVariety’s Awards Circuit Emmys Predictions Hub

The nomination round of voting runs from June 16 to June 27. The official nominations for the 74th Emmy Awards will be announced Tuesday, July 12.

The list of programs and potential nominees listed below is incomplete and is subject to change. The full television awards season calendar is linked here.

2021 category winner: Olivia Colman, “The Crown” (Netflix)


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1 Zendaya “Euphoria” HBO
2 Laura Linney “Ozark” Netflix
3 Mandy Moore “This Is Us” NBC
4 Melanie Lynskey “Yellowjackets” Showtime
5 Juliette Lewis “Yellowjackets” Showtime
6 Jennifer Aniston “The Morning Show” Apple TV+
7 Kelly Reilly “Yellowstone” Paramount+
8 Toni Collette “Pieces of Her” Netflix
9 Jodie Comer “Killing Eve” BBC America
10 Nicole Kidman “Nine Perfect Strangers” Hulu
11 Sandra Oh “Killing Eve” BBC America
12 Britt Lower “Severance” Apple TV+
13 Reese Witherspoon “The Morning Show” Apple TV+
14 Imogen Poots “Outer Range” Amazon Prime Video
15 Carrie Coon “The Gilded Age” HBO
16 Elisabeth Moss “Shining Girls” Apple TV+
17 Tawny Cypress “Yellowjackets” Showtime
18 Mariska Hargitay “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” NBC
19 Christine Baranski “The Good Fight” Paramount+
20 Sue Ann Pien “As We See It” Amazon Prime Video
21 Sissy Spacek “Night Sky” Amazon Prime Video
22 Winona Ryder “Stranger Things” Netflix
23 Minha Kim “Pachinko” Apple TV+
24 Katja Herbers “Evil” Paramount+
25 Simone Ashley “Bridgerton” Netflix
26 Élodie Yung “The Cleaning Lady” Fox
27 Caitríona Balfe “Outlander” Starz
28 Aunjanue Ellis “61st Street” AMC
29 Queen Latifah “The Equalizer” CBS
30 Mary J. Blige “Power Book II: Ghost” Starz
Alexandra Breckenridge “Virgin River”
Amanda Collin “Raised by Wolves” HBO
Angela Bassett “9-1-1” Fox
Anna Paquin “Flack” Amazon Prime Video
Annalisa Cochrane “One of Us is Lying”
Annie Murphy “Kevin Can F**k Himself” AMC
Anya Chalotra “The Witcher” Netflix
Ashley Romans “Y: The Last Man”
Autumn Best “4400”
Brooke Elliott “Sweet Magnolias”
Brooklynn Prince “Home Before Dark”
Camila Mendes “Riverdale” The CW
Cecilia Suárez “Promised Land”
Daniella Pineda “Cowboy Bebop” Netflix
Darby Stanchfield “Locke & Key” Netflix
Dawn-Lyen Gardner “Queen Sugar” OWN
Demetria McKinney “A House Divided”
Diane Lane “Y: The Last Man”
Dina Shihabi “Archive 81”
Dominique Tipper “The Expanse” Amazon Prime Video
Ellen Pompeo “Grey’s Anatomy” ABC
Emily Hampshire “Chapelwaite” Epix
Erana James “The Wilds”
Esmé Creed-Miles “Hanna” Amazon Prime Video
Freema Agyeman “New Amsterdam” NBC
Freya Allan “The Witcher” Netflix
Frida Gustavsson “Vikings: Valhalla”
Geffri Maya “All American: Homecoming”
Golshifteh Farahani “Invasion” Apple TV+
Heather Headley “Sweet Magnolias”
Javicia Leslie “Batwoman” The CW
Jennifer Beals “The L Word: Generation Q” Showtime
JoAnna Garcia Swisher “Sweet Magnolias”
Jordan Alexander “Gossip Girl” HBO
Katee Sackhoff “Another Life”
Katherine Moennig “The L Word: Generation Q” Showtime
Katheryn Winnick “Big Sky” ABC
Kelli O’Hara “The Accidental Wolf”
Lauren Ambrose “Servant” Apple TV+
Lauren German “Lucifer”
Leila George “Animal Kingdom” TNT
Leisha Hailey “The L Word: Generation Q” Showtime
Lili Simmons “Power Book IV: Force” Starz
Lou Llobell “Foundation” Apple TV+
Madelyn Cline “Outer Banks”
Madison Lintz “Bosch: Legacy” Amazon Prime Video
Margherita Mazzucco “My Brilliant Friend: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay” HBO
Marianly Tejada “One of Us is Lying”
Marietta Sirleaf “Good Girls”
Maura Tierney “American Rust” Showtime
Mia Healey “The Wilds”
Mimi Rogers “Bosch: Legacy”
Mireille Enos “Hanna” Amazon Prime Video
Missy Peregrym “FBI”
Molly Parker “Lost in Space” Netflix
Monica Raymond “Hightown”
Morena Baccarin “The Endgame” CBS
Mouna Traoré “The Porter”
Naomie Harris “The Man Who Fell to Earth” Showtime
Niecy Nash “Claws” TBS
Nina Arianda “Goliath” Amazon Prime Video
Niv Sultan “Tehran” Apple TV+
Octavia Spencer “Truth Be Told” Apple TV+
Patina Miller “Power Book III: Raising Kanan” Starz
Pollyanna McIntosh “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” AMC
Rachel Keller “Tokyo Vice” HBO
Rachel Shenton “All Creatures Great and Small (MASTERPIECE)”
Rebecca Romijn “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds”
Rosamund Pike “The Wheel of Time” Amazon Prime Video
Rose Rollins “Long Slow Exhale”
Roselyn Sánchez “Fantasy Island”
Rutina Wesley “Queen Sugar” OWN
Ryan Michelle Bathé “The Endgame” CBS
Sarah Pidgeon “The Wilds”
Sarah Shahl “Sex/Life”
Shioli Kutsuna “Invasion”
Sonequa Martin-Green “Star Trek: Discovery” Paramount+
Sophia Bush “Good Sam”
Stefanie Scott “The Girl in the Woods”
Suranne Jones “Gentleman Jack” HBO
Victoria Pedretti “You” Netflix
Whitney Peak “Gossip Girl” HBO
Willa Fitzgerald “Reacher” Amazon Prime Video


The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known simply as the Emmys, is television’s most prestigious artistic award. There are many records held for both wins and nominations in the near eight decades.

For wins: Tyne Daly and Michael Learned have the most awards in this category with four, while Barbara Bain, Kathy Baker, Edie Falco and Loretta Young all have three each. “Cagney & Lacey” is the series with the most awards in this category, with six.

For nominations: Angela Lansbury has the most nominations in this category with 12, which were all consecutive, failing to win. The next most nominated actors are Sharon Gless, Mariska Hargitay, Michael Learned and Julianna Margulies, with eight apiece.

“Cagney & Lacey” and “Murder, She Wrote” are the series with the most nominations in this category, with 12 each.

2022 Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

2022 Creative Arts Emmys Predictions

About the Primetime Emmy Awards (Emmys)

The Primetime Emmy Awards, better known as the Emmys, are given out by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS). Since 1949, the awards have recognized excellence in American primetime television programming. They are divided into three classes – Primetime Emmy Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards (honors artisan achievements), and the Primetime Engineering Emmy Awards (recognizes significant engineering and technological contributions). The typical eligibility period is between June 1 and May 31 of any given year. The Television Academy comprises over 25,000 members, representing 30 professional peer groups, including performers, directors, producers, art directors and various artisans and executives.

  • The 74th Emmy Awards will take place on Monday, Sept. 12, and air on NBC.

Emmy Predictions: Lead Actress in a Drama Series – Zendaya Set to Make Emmys History With ‘Euphoria’

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