Emmys 2012: The Supporting Drama Actress Race in Review, Including Our Dream Nominees

This year’s Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama contest is going to be a fun free-for-all, and we might be surprised by who ends up on top. After all, without a clear frontrunner — like last year’s winner, Margo Martindale — it could also be time for oft-nominated Christina Hendricks, brand-newbie Morena Baccarin, or frequently-overlooked Regina King and Maggie Siff to make a grab for the gold.

More Emmy Races In Review | Outstanding Drama Series | Lead Drama Actor | Lead Drama Actress | Supporting Drama Actor | Outstanding Comedy Series | Lead Comedy Actor | Lead Comedy Actress | Supporting Comedy Actor | Supporting Comedy Actress | Outstanding Reality-Competition Series | Outstanding Movie/Miniseries

Review this slideshow of the major contenders — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then vote below for who you think are the six best. And check back Thursday as we tackle the comedy races!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Steven says:

    I don’t get how Emilia Clarke is on this list and Lena Heady is not…Cersei was MUCH more compelling than Daenerys this year I think.

    • Callan says:

      ^^^ This. With the exception of the season finale, Daenerys did absolutely nothing this season. Lena Clarke killed it as Cersei, especially in the Blackwater episode.

    • Larissa says:

      Let’s hope she is nominated. She should be recognized over most of the contenders.

      • D'Arcy says:

        Definitely Lena Headey over Emilia Clarke. And then Maisie Williams over Lena Headey… Did you guys see those scenes with Charles Dance? She’s brilliant.

    • Jen says:

      I was just about to comment that if any female deserves a nom it would be Lena. Cersei could be so one-dimensional in other hands, Lena Headey is just flawless as Cersei. Emilia is good, but nowhere near as compelling as Lena.

    • Josh says:

      Yeah this was more Lena’s year then Emilia’s. I love Emilia and she’s great but book 1 was Dany’s journey, not book 2. Lena had tons of great scenes through this season but her high point was Blackwater.

    • Superhero says:

      Completely agree. Headey has a much better submission episode in Blackwater than anything Clarke has this season. She might get nominated in future seasons when she has better material to work with, but this season Headey was definitely the best actress on the show.

    • Anna says:

      Lena or Maisie Williams deserve it. And they certainly deserve it far more than Emilia Clarke. I feel like whoever contributed to this list didn’t even watch this season of GoT. If they had… they would never have put Emilia (who I love but just didn’t have strong material this year) on here.

      • Esme says:

        Maisie Williams! Yes!

      • Olive says:

        Completely agree. I wrote in Lena in the “other” box and I would have added Maise if it I were allowed. Lena and/or Maisie deserve a nod. In fact, I would place Michelle Fairley before Emilia. I have nothing against Emilia but the material wasn’t great for her this season. Next year will be another story.

    • Ava says:

      In her defense, Emilia wasn’t given much to do this season, but she performed the scenes that she did have well.

      But I agree, it’s insane that neither Lena Headey or Maisie Williams were on the list.

    • taylorrness says:

      YES. Lena deserves a nom so much. I’d also love to see Sophie Turner acknowledged; her Sansa has dealt with a lot this season and she portrays her with such grace. Maisie too. The females on this show are amazing! But while I love Emilia, I think she’s the least deserving of an award this season.

    • S. from A. says:

      I remember sitting in front of the screen watching Blackwater and telling myself all the time, that I would refuse watching the Emmys if Lena wasn’t nominated. I was simply blown away!

    • Taylor says:

      Why are the supporting actresses from Mad Men on this list? I thought Mad Men missed the deadline to get nominated.

    • Chelsea says:

      Agreed. I think Emilia Clarke is very capable, but she just hasn’t had the material this year to warrant being nominated. Only in the season finale did she get to do anything. I would much rather see Lena Heady, Maisie Williams, or Sophie Turner nominated for Game of Thrones this year.

    • Anon says:

      As much as I love Emilia Clarke, Lena Heady should be the one on this list, Cersei simply rocked, especially in Blackwater

    • Adam R. says:

      I just put in an “Other” for Sophie Turner–she’s turned Sansa from a very passive character to someone of significant depth and emotion.

    • Sneha says:

      Agreed, all Daenerys did was get more and more shrill throughout the season until the last episode when she finally showed a little more in her character, but I don’t think that was because of Clarke, the writers could have done a lot more with her character but they chose not too. As much as I hate the character Cersei, Lena Heady fully deserves this prize. Along with Lana Parilla.

    • Yeah, right. infact, I see Emilia can act as Daenerys MUCH more diffirent personality than Lena’s Cersei. I think the reason that you dont get it because maybe you like Lena more than Emilia.

  2. LilAngel says:

    Lana Parilla, Lauren Graham,… even though I’m not sure they are only supporting actress

    • Lauren says:

      YES! Definitely Lauren Graham!

    • Cobs says:

      Someone has got to say it: it’s ridiculous that “Dexter”‘s Jennifer Carpenter gets overlooked year after year– what does she have to do as Deb to get shown some Emmy love?! Deb is a complex and incredible character who has shown sooo much growth over the show’s six seasons; granted, I HATED the storyline they gave her this year (and the writing on the show has certainly gotten bad), but Carpenter is absolutely fantastic in the role, regardless. Incredible range of emotions and so much depth to a character that really is the heart of such a dark show. Please give her an Emmy!!!

  3. KMC says:

    Where is Revenge’s Madeleine Stowe?

  4. Elli says:

    Sandra Oh
    Sandra Oh
    Sandra Oh
    Sandra Oh
    Sandra Oh
    Sandra Oh

    • soxfan says:

      I agree
      I agree
      I agree
      I agree
      I agree
      I agree

    • sarah says:

      i agree 100% her best work this season!!! she deserves the Emmy!!!

      • Tania says:

        No, Sandra Oh does NOT deserve an Emmy. She doesn’t even deserve a nomination.

        • cdog says:

          I agree with Tania. I am a fan of Ms. Oh, however her performance this season was mediocre as was the 8th season of Grey..very disappointing.

    • greysfan says:

      Yes Yes Yes! 100% agree. She so deserves it this year just like Ellen does the lead but that will go to Claire Danes hands down. At least give Ellen the nomination for once. I know i may be biased a bit but Grey’s had so many good episodes this season.

      Others are Lana Parilla and Maggie Smith for me. Lana is amazing in Once and sort of surprised she is not lead considering she is the headliner in the episodes. As for Maggie Smith those one liners are classic.

    • R says:


      GIVE Sandra Oh the Looooooooong Deserving Emmy!! She plays a charater with so much variations with such ease and perfection that it is so unbelievable that she has been overlooked last year even for a nomination! This season, with the hole abortion/cheating husband/boards drama, she has delivered every bit with perfection! to neglect this would be SAD!

      • Lindsey says:

        Sandra Oh has the tape to win… If she’s nominated, and dosen’t win. The process of the emmys is flawed in many many ways(as it is already,IMO)…So if Sandra Oh dosen’t win, I’ll be mad. Why keep nominating her for things if they are never going to award her? I’m happy she has a Golden Globe and SAG award..It makes you wonder though how she can’t win an Emmy. Sandra Oh is very derserving… I’ll never stop saying that..But if she doesn’t get noticed for this season on Greys..thats it for me wishing she would..cause it wont happen. She’ll always turn in amazing work though..but I’ll just move on from wanting and wishing.. It’s nice to see all the love for Sandras work still :)

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Wow, you think all 6 spots should go to Sandra Oh and she is the only one deserving? I just died a little inside.

  5. Callan says:

    Where is Maisie Williams? Her portrayal of Arya Stark was the highlight of this season of Game of Thrones. It takes real talent for a teenager (with no prior professional acting experience, mind you) to show up Charles Dance in evey scene she had with him.

    Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark, was also fantastic this season. Her role is less showy, but no less important.

    • Steven says:

      I completely forgot about Maisie! Yeah, she’s awesome

    • Nicole says:

      IKR she deserves to be up there, out of all the girls on Got they choose Emilia Clarke???!!! the others are much more deserving

      • Ryan says:

        As great as Maisie was this season (not to be *spoilery* but if you’ve read the books you will understand this, if not you’ll think I’m nuts)

        there will be one episode next season which will likely blow this entire season out of the water for her. As good as she is, mixed with the fact that George RR Martin said it was the hardest chapter he ever had to write in the books, should translate to emmy gold for that child. She will kill it.

    • Sarah El says:

      I agree ENTIRELY. If we’re putting Kiernan Shipka, another fantastic child actress on this list, we need her equally excellent peer Maisie Williams. Game of Thrones has a million incredible lady actors, but she is totally number one.

  6. Kevin says:

    Rose Byrne is on Damages, not the Good Wife

  7. Andrea says:

    Where is Lucy Lawless from Spartacus?

    • Jacquelyn says:

      Dear god I was wondering that same thing too! Lucy definitely should be up there.. She did an INCREDIBLE job as Lucretia.

  8. Voted for Archie Panjabi, Sandra Oh and Lana Parrilla, because her Regina is way more complicated and compelling character, than Emma and Mary/Snow, even though they are considered as lead characters.
    I’d love to see Lena Heady nominated, but well… it won’t happen for lots of reasons.

  9. Joe says:

    I agree with Callan. Maisie Williams deserves to be up there. And while we’re talking Game of Thrones, so does Lena Headey.

  10. A.J. says:

    Is Lena Headey under the lead category? Because if not, it’s ridiculous for her not to be here. She should win everything! Love that Keirnan Shipka is on the list, as well as Christina Hendricks. Not sure January even had enough scenes to be considered supporting lol. Sandra Oh, Anna Gunn, and Kelly MacDonald round out my list.

    • Callan says:

      It doesn’t seem like anyone from GoT is submitted for lead roles. Even Peter Dinklage is in the running for supporting actor, and I thought for sure he’d submit himself for lead this season due to certain cast departures from season 1.

      • J2 says:

        the problem is there’s not really a “lead” character on which the GOT action is centered. dinklage does comes closest though.

  11. DasMichellcheen says:


  12. Brian Nord says:

    Ok- it’s time for Sandra Oh or Chandra WIlson for the love of God. They are nothing short of extraordinary year after year.

  13. sara says:

    Rose Byrne
    Lana Parrilla
    Maggie Siff
    Regina King
    Archie Panjabi
    Lena Headey

    Would be my choices

  14. greysfan says:

    Sandra Oh hands down! She was the BEST SUPPORTING this year be it male or female.

  15. CC says:

    Definitely Sandra Oh. She was beyond amazing this season.

  16. Aussie says:

    Definately time for Sandra oh to win this category

  17. YowzaPowza says:

    No Madeleine Stowe? I don’t really get everyone’s love for Christina Hendricks. I think she’s great in Mad Men but she’s really nothing exceptional and never has been. I’d go with Emilia Clarke, Morena Baccarin, Monica Potter, Lana Parilla, Kelly MacDonald and Anna Gunn.

  18. Nicolas Mancuso says:

    Baccarin, Hendricks, Macdonald, Potter, Smith

    …and Fiona Shaw for ‘True Blood’!

    Last season was really bad, but Shaw was just breathtakingly good.

  19. nannarpite says:

    Surely this is the year that Christina Hendricks takes home the gold!

  20. Rich says:

    Regina King is a great actress. She did a great job.

  21. Frivolouswhim says:

    Lana Parrilla gets my vote. But sadly I agree, highly doubt a show like OUAT will be nominated in any of the categories.

  22. Sara says:

    Christine Baranski was brilliant in Good Wife, really came into her own in an inconsistent season.

  23. AnthoBuzz says:

    Laura Leighton for pretty little liars!

    • John says:

      HA Yeah Right! Look me in the eye and tell me that Leighton is on par with the challenging work that Kelly MacDonald, Anna Gunn, Christine Baranski and others mentioned do each week. I thought so

  24. JoAnne says:

    maisie williams!!

  25. AJ says:

    I cannot believe Lena Headey is not on this list. The scenes between her and Peter Dinklage are like an acting Master Class. And then her scenes in the penultimate episode, with Sansa, as she was drinking wine and becoming more and more unhinged, to the point where she almost killed her own son. Oh man, that was incredible acting. I felt she won herself the Emmy in that episode.

  26. ali says:

    Sandra Oh is probably the most talented actor on Grey’s, and despite the soapiness of the show, it is all-around a VERY talented cast. Oh is long overdue and she is fantastic as Cristina!

  27. bamalam says:

    She wasn’t given as dramatic material as she has in the past on the show, but I always think Mae Whitman from Parenthood should be nominated. She’s an amazing young actress.

  28. Bettret says:

    Lana Parrilla. Hands down the best actress on OUAT and easily my favorite in the entire supporting category. Even though Sandra Oh and Lena Heady were awesome this year as well. But I’m afraid Grey’s Anatomy’s way-past-it’s-prime status and OUAT’s fantasy aspect don’t bode well for SO and LP.

  29. clara says:

    OMG, where is STANA KATIC?????????? well i guess she’s in lead actress category…. oh, wait

  30. Jessica says:

    The fact that despite all the Emmy love for Mad Men, it’s two best actresses have never won is a sham. Hopefully the anticipation and the storylines make Emmy voters finally declare this the year for Mad Men’s women.

  31. Megan says:

    Maggie Siff. “Hands” was some of her best work I have ever seen in my life. If she doesn’t get nominated it will be a huge letdown.

    • TheBeach says:

      Agree, along with Anna Gunn. It’s time for some gritty drama actress love.

    • the girl says:

      Completely agree with this. Maggie Siff was a-mah-zing this season and she totally deserves a nomination. I was blown away by her performance. I also think Sandra Oh deserves to be nominated too. Each of these ladies elevated their shows to another level with the caliber of their dramatic work. And no, I am not their agent. :P

    • kimberly says:

      I agree 100% – Maggie had such a strong season.

  32. CJ says:

    Jennifer Carpenter, Regina King, Monica Potter <3

    Also, I really do not get the obsession with The Good Wife. I have never felt it Emmy-worthy at all.

  33. Josh says:

    Christine Baranski
    Christina Hendricks
    Regina King
    Maggie Smith
    Anna Gunn
    Lana Parrilla

  34. Emilia Clarke is on the list but Lena Headey is not, really? Her performance in Blackwater was awesome. She should definitely win this year if you ask me.
    But I also think that Maggie Smith and Jennifer Carpenter did both an amazing job this year!

  35. Suz says:

    Two words: Caterina Scorsone.I know everyone thinks it is a silly show. But she kicked tail this year. Her performance in the drug intervention episode was mesmerizing and she was amazing all year. Never really heard of her before but wow…chill bumps…make fun of the show (I like it myself) but there is no denying she was phenomenal this year as was the always incredible Kadee Strickland who should have been nominated last year. Before you laugh, watch that episode.

    • Heather says:

      I agree with you. Caterina was phenomenal this past season but I fear she’ll suffer the same fate as the wonderful KaDee Strickland did last year and not get a nomination either. It’s criminal that KaDee wasn’t able to crack this category for Charlotte’s storyline last year. She was beyond amazing. =(

      • Suz says:

        I’m glad someone agrees with me! I thought for sure Kadee would get a nomination last year but apparently people don’t know talent. If they’d make people watch Caterina this season, she’d win.

        • Ally says:

          KaDee Strickland is so good. She’s the best actor on that show and does an awesome job playing Charlotte. She should get a nom but she won’t since Private Practice isn’t very Emmy-worthy.

  36. sarah says:

    What about Lauren Graham for Parenthood and Katherine McPhee for Smash?

    • Jessica says:

      Katherine Mcphee,really? Her acting on that show was awful. It was one of the many reasons that I stopped watching that show. Megan Hilty, on the other hand….

      • Dkzigs says:

        Agreed!! Megan Hilty’s acting was awesome on SMASH…just watch her performing “I’m Goin Down” in the hotel party scene…AMAZING!!

  37. JeniLee says:

    Michelle Forbes for the killing and no Brent Sexton for supporting actor? Whats up with that!

  38. RLS says:

    The brilliant Regina King will continue to be snubbed every single year, and it hurts just to see her mentioned because you just know she won’t get the nod. I’d love to be proven wrong, but…

  39. salim says:

    i hope sandra gets nominated i love her great actress. if ellen pompeo is not nominated then i dnt know if am going to take ithe emmy seriously

    • Bettret says:

      I get Sandra Oh, but Ellen Pompeo? Don’t mean to say I don’t like her as an actress, but can’t remember a memorable story of hers on GA this year.

      • Aurora says:

        Ellen Pompeo? Her Meredith Grey? For the emmy??? :D You must be joking. I’m sorry, but you can’t be serious. Sandra and Ellen simply aren’t comparable.

    • Sarah says:

      I don’t how I’ll take the Emmys seriously if Ellen Pompeo IS nominated. Weakest actress on the show, by a mile.

  40. salim says:

    my dream nominations
    sandra oh
    monica potter
    maggie smith
    anna gun
    christine baranski
    archie panchabi

  41. Nicole says:

    Lauren Graham please!

  42. Marcos says:


  43. Simona says:

    Easy! Maggie Smith, Lana Parrilla or Christine Baranski.

  44. Honor says:

    OUAT wouldn’t be half as good when it wasn’t for Lana Parrilla (& Robert Carlyle). Her work is simply outstanding and definitely worth the nomination.

    • Chan says:

      Lana Parrilla for sure – Her character actually makes the show, which is funny seeing as its a supporting character… But still she definitely deserves a nomination! Especially since, in essence, she is actually playing 2 different versions of the same character and is doing such an amazing job!!

  45. Alexis says:

    The supporting players on The Good Wife do some of the most sublime work on TV right now. I couldn’t possibly choose between Archie Panjabi and Christine Baranski!

  46. Ally says:

    I love Grey’s but found Sandra Oh rather annoying and overdramatic this year. I actually voted for Chyler Leigh. In that one scene she had with Derek in which she told him she still loved Mark and in the parking lot where she told Mark she loved him it really pulled on my heartstrings. Her good portrayal of Lexie Grey is what made her a fan favourite. I also voted for Monica Potter who does an equally fantastic job on Parenthood.

    • Karishma Bhimani says:

      Yes, definitely think Chyler Leigh deserves a nomination. Also Stana Katic from Castle too. Will all that her character has been through mainly this season from getting shot and recovery, PTSD, drowning and getting thrown off NYC buildings, Katic has definitely proved herself to be Emmy worthy.

  47. Juan says:

    Sandra Oh FTW, she is amazing as Christina Yang and she was on fire this year, her killing Teddy’s husband/ cheating/ and abortion storyline were superv. Also would vote for Monica Potter, Lana Parrila, Emilia Clark and I agree that Lena Headley should be here

  48. Kostas says:

    LANA PARILLA of course…Whoever won’t vote her SHALL be DESTROYED.

    • Kendal says:

      Evil Regals rule! Mixing up the potion now (;

    • Hallie says:

      LANA PARRILLA ALL THE WAY!! She is such a fantasic actress and really don’t have enough words to describe how epic she is(; Her charater is so deep and cGo Evil Regals, let’s make Lana proud <3

  49. Jones says:

    Maggie Smith because she’s consistently awesome in every project she even remotely touches and Regina King because she’s consistently awesome and has never been recognized for it.

  50. soarin829 says:

    I love, let me repeat, LOVE that Monica Potter was put on this list! She amazes me in that role.