The Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama category at the 2015 Emmys is already a historic category because it is the first time in the Emmy era that two African-American actresses have been nominated in the category in the same year.
Viola Davis (“How to Get Away with Murder”) and Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”) are the sixth and seventh black women to ever be nominated in the category — and both are front runners from hit freshman series that dominated primetime this season. Davis’ return to television as the enigmatic Annalise Keating made her a must watch figure of Thursday nights while Henson as the smart-talking Cookie Lyon became a record-breaking pop culture icon in only 12 episodes.
As talked about as both of their performances were, neither of them have a lock on the category filled with powerhouse performances. Claire Danes is pursuing her third Emmy for her work on “Homeland.” This is the first year the show is also nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, which could mean the Academy is leaning back in Danes’ favor.
Robin Wright is also a repeat visitor to the category for Season 3 of “House of Cards” where her character Claire Underwood makes her own play for office and goes toe-to-toe with Francis (Kevin Spacey). It marks her third consecutive year of being nominated for the role with no sign of gold. Is 2015 finally her year?
Perhaps not because if the Academy is voting based on people who have paid their nomination dues then Elisabeth Moss has a serious leg up. With the exception of 2014, Moss has been nominated every year since 2009 for her role of Peggy Olson on “Mad Men.” She’s been a fan favorite for just as long and the season’s final bow makes this the last year that Moss can get the credit she’s due for the part.
In the opposite corner is Emmy virgin Tatiana Maslany who finally nabs a nomination for her multi-faceted turn on “Orphan Black.” There was critical outcry in 2014 when Maslany didn’t make the cut for the category which means there’s a lot of support for her work on the BBC America drama. The tide could also fold in her favor.
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