2023 Emmy Predictions: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

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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.

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See our previous thoughts on what to expect at the 75th Primetime Emmy Awards here.

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The State of the Race

Every actress who has played Queen Elizabeth II on “The Crown” so far has won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, however the wins were for Claire Foy and Olivia Colman’s second seasons playing the role. While one could assume the monarch’s recent death, and the coronation of her son, has a chance of boosting Imelda Staunton’s Emmy campaign, the jury is still out on how much the underwhelming fifth season of the first Netflix show to win Outstanding Drama Series has resonated with voters.

Sure, they could go for the familiar, but looking at the other two Netflix contenders, one from a “Bridgerton” project and the other a three-time Emmy nominee, both shows whose premiere seasons hit big, “Queen Charlotte” star India Amarteifio or “The Diplomat” star Keri Russell may have an even better chance than “The Crown” newcomer Staunton has at a nomination.

But the biggest new entrant in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series race is “Succession” star Sarah Snook, who chose to elevate from the Supporting category (where she’d been nominated twice before) for her final run as the calculating Shiv Roy.

Though Snook is a star of the reigning Outstanding Drama Series winner, she still does not have the same name recognition of “Yellowjackets” stars Juliette Lewis or Melanie Lynskey, the latter of which is widely accepted as having come in second in the category last year (though we will never know the truth as the TV Academy does not release the numbers to the public).

In fact, with “Killing Eve” and “Ozark” ending last season, and “Euphoria” and “The Morning Show” both being on a hiatus that deems them ineligible for Emmys this year, Lynskey is the only nominee from last year that could make a return appearance in this category. And again, with those shows out the picture, and new programs that are nowhere near as buzzy as “Yellowjackets” Season 1, there is even a good chance co-stars Tawny Cypress and Sophie Nélisse, who plays the teen version of Lynskey’s character on the Showtime series, join her come nominations in late June.

Current Contenders (In Alphabetical Order):
India Amarteifio, “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” (Netflix)
Christine Baranski, “The Good Fight” (Paramount+)
Tawny Cypress, “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
Emma D’Arcy, “House of the Dragon” (HBO)
Brandee Evans, “P-Valley” (Starz)
Sharon Horgan, “Bad Sisters” (Apple TV+)
Juliette Lewis, “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
Melanie Lynskey, “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
Helen Mirren, “1923” (Paramount+)
Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
Sophie Nélisse, “Yellowjackets” (Showtime)
Bella Ramsey, “The Last of Us” (HBO)
Keri Russell, “The Diplomat” (Netflix)
Sarah Snook, “Succession” (HBO)
Imelda Staunton, “The Crown” (Netflix)

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

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

Last Year’s Winner: Zendaya, “Euphoria”
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, and with “Euphoria” not coming back anytime soon, that will not change this year. That all said, 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 won for their second seasons in the role though, not their first.
Notable Ineligible Series: Britt Lower, “Severance” (Season 2 was not eligible); Zendaya, “Euphoria” (Season 3 was not eligible); Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, “The Morning Show” (Season 3 was not eligible); Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things” (Season 5 was not eligible); Jodie Comer and Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve” (ended); Laura Linney, “Ozark” (ended); Mandy Moore, “This is Us” (ended)

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