Emmys 2013: The Lead Drama Actress Race in Review, Including Our 6 Dream Nominees

Emmy Best Actress Drama NomineesIf ever a category was primed for a shake-up, it was this one. There are so many potential first-time nominees — from Scandal’s Kerry Washington to House of Cards’ Kelly Capwell… er, Robin Wright — that the question is less who will win than who will manage to win a nod.

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

Review the following slideshow of the major contenders* — including TVLine’s Dream Nominees — then hit the comments to vote for who you think are the six best. And check back Thursday as we tackle the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama race!

*Before you ask, Anna Torv of Fringe did not submit herself for Emmy consideration.

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. jimbo says:

    Whaaat? What about Monica Potter (Parenthood)? She was fantastic!

  2. marge says:

    Kerry Washington is not one of your dream nominees?!

  3. WAIT!! How could you NOT include Kerry Washington in your Dream Emmy Ballot Choices?!?!?! I mean come on now..this is UN-CALLED FOR!

    • Tracey says:

      Because Kerry Washington overacts EVERY scene. I used to watch Scandal but it is a show filled with awful character. There is absolutely not one character that has any redeeming qualities.

      • scooby says:

        Agreed. I had to stop watching, saw the whole first season and the S2 premiere. Couldn’t keep going. You can feel an urge to root for people who do bad things if the characters are written well. The Americans is about Soviet spies–we shouldn’t want to like them because they’re out there killing people, lying, and going up against the FBI, but on some level we’re rooting for them. Olitz is horrible, but it’s clear they’ve been turned into the couple you’re supposed to ship. Nobody is a white hat or a gladiator. Repeating that over and over again doesn’t make it so. As for the show’s style, Shonda’s trying to write like Aaron Sorkin, but his dialogue is a lot more than just fast talking. Saying and doing ridiculous things quickly doesn’t make them better. I feel like S2 of Scandal is the equivalent of Grey’s circa George/Izzie.

        • Maddie says:

          THIS. Spot on, well said. I think the idea of Scandal is good, maybe it’d be better on a cable network. I even like Kerry Washington. I don’t understand this amazing praise she’s been given though concerning her acting abilities (so other posters said..has she been given high reviews? I don’t know..). And Shonda Rhimes… Again I like her, I watch Grey’s Anatomy. Is her writing great? I don’t think so– Not at all. At least greater/better shows are better because they’re written (and usually acted) better.
          And comparing her to Sorkin…..HE IS A GENIUS. At least to me. I love him. I do get your point though. Look at both their scripts, dialogue, transitions…. I’d say nothing alike. Like you said, Sorkin does something amazingly different. I never thought to compare him and Shonda but the talking fast and wordy thing does appear in both of their shows. One does one much better however…. (Sorkin!). The wordiness thing and talking fastness… then I think of Amy Sherman Palladino (Gilmore girls). Also another amazing writer/director!
          But yeah, I’m in total agreement, loved your review. Not sure I’ll be watching Scandal next fall although I’m all caught up.
          Here’s my time to bring up The Newsroom-Sorkin (HBO) and Bunheads-Palladino (ABCfam)… watch them!

        • Deatron says:

          DUDE, yes on all counts, especially the Sorkin bit! I’m slogging my way through the first season right now and it keeps beating me in the head (and the presence of Joshua Malina doesn’t help). Shonda and co. really, _really_ want this to sound like Sorkin, who has always added fast-paced verbal sparring with an unyielding fiery wit and several adept swings of the melodramatic-liberal-conscience-bat. These scripts have the fast pace, but the bat they’re swinging is barbed with the hypocrisy of Pope’s actions versus her words and while there may be a number of Janet Evanovichian chuckles here and there, there is very little wit to speak of. Sorkin’s ideological rants have a tendency to irritate me a little when he’s coming on too strong with the sermon, but he’s always been a damned savant with dialogue. There is no such mastery here, and it’s maddening. I think the majority of my frustration is that I’ve heard nothing but praise for this show since its second season. I was honestly expecting a slick political thriller, professionally shot with low-key, subtle performances and dark themes. I mean come ON, look at the cast! Goldwyn, Washington, Malina. These people can pot-boil in their sleep. Instead I find myself watching a show that averages two pop/motown/jazz-fuzed ‘let’s get to work’ montages an episode, transitions scenes using hyper-edits and two dozen camera clicks, and banks on the idea that I’m going to believe Pope is the best at her job just because everyone keeps saying she is, despite all the evidence to the contrary that it keeps throwing at my head. I was unaware that Shonda was the creative force behind this when I picked it up, eager to begin; I wish I’d known otherwise from the get-go. You reach for the Johnny Walker and find out you just drank a Fuzzy Navel, you’re going to do a spit take. Not that Fuzzy Navels are all bad, I mean, I’m still watching the show; I just really wanted this to be Blue Label, that’s all.

    • Jenny says:

      Kerry is listed. Not at all surprised she would be included given the acclaim she’s received all year. The praise in the media and among fans has been consistent.

  4. Jinnette says:

    Where is stana katic ????

    • Dave says:

      hopefully taking an acting class somewhere.

      • Lara says:

        I cackled.. ^^

      • John DeMayo says:

        She acts circles around pretty much every other lead actress on network TV right now…

        • Jamie says:

          LOL then go watch The Good Wife, Orphan Black, Mad Men, and Homeland and tell me she still “acts circles around every other lead actress LMFAO.

          She’s a talented woman, but she can’t compare with the astounding and subtle performances from veterans like Claire Danes, Elizabeth Moss, or even a newcomer like Tatiana Maslany.

          • John DeMayo says:

            I did say NETWORK television, didn’t I? The only other actress on network TV that competes with Stana Katic is Julianna Marguiles. Both are more than deserving for their work this season no matter how you look at it.

        • Maddie says:

          I can’t reply to your other post but I think it’s funny for you to compare Julianna’s acting on The Good Wife to the actress on Castle. Good one! Now go watch more of The Good Wife. ;)

        • Naomi says:

          Oh my gosh! Did ever other lead actress on network tv die!?!

      • Rachel says:

        That’s cute. You probably Big Bang Theory or Two & a Half Men is quality acting huh?

        • Rachel says:

          ***my post was directed towards Dave

          • John DeMayo says:

            Whoa there… don’t be lumping The Big Bang Theory in with Two and a Half Men. TBBT has a phenomenal cast — all of whom are deserving of Emmy nods. “Men” has Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer.

        • Trip says:

          Clearly you don’t watch TBBT. This year the supporting cast especially turned in fantastic work. The episode revolving around the letter from Howard’s father was stunning and should land at least two nominations.

      • CJ says:

        Lol thanks for that, Dave. Agreed.

      • Lindsey says:

        Dave, you’re my hero. You said what I’ve been thinking for years.

  5. Rivera says:

    Keri Russell for The Americans (Killer performance!!)


    Ellen Pompeo for Grey’s (About time, the leading lady gets appreciated for her awesome portrayal from Dark and Twisted intern to a happily married Surgeon!)

  6. alwayshappy says:

    My choices would be :
    Julianna Marguiles
    Claire Danes
    Ellen Pompeo
    Michelle Dockery
    Lauren Graham ( why isn’t she even mentioned?! )

    • ingmarhappy says:

      Forgot to mention Emily Deschannel!

    • Jamie says:

      My choices:
      Juliana Marguiles
      Lucy Lui
      Claire Danes
      Tatiana Maslany
      Elizabeth Moss
      Emmy Rossum

      With the Emmy going to either Claire Danes for that stellar performance in Q&A ( I honestly can’t stop gushing about it) or Tatiana Maslany in a MASSIVE upset (wishful thinking I know; I’ll be over the moon if she just manages to score a nod)

      • Jamie says:

        I’m such an idiot!! Replace Emmy Rossum with Keri Russell. How could I forget that astounding performance??? If anyone if going to cause an upset and snatch the trophy away from Claire Danes, it’ll be Keri Russell.

    • Britta Unfiltered says:

      Lauren Graham is in supporting. If anyone wants to see who submitted and in what categories for acting, go to the link I’m putting in at the bottom. So far the funniest one I have discovered is that Amy Schumer oddly submitted herself in supporting for her show, Inside Amy Schumer. Who are you exactly supporting, Amy?


  7. Dawn says:

    I love that someone else thinks “Kelly Capwell” when seeing Robin Wright…#SantaBarbara

  8. nich says:

    I’m torn between Kerry Washington and Tatiana Maslany.

  9. bob smith says:

    what about Emily VanCamp (Revenge)?

  10. Eric7740 says:

    Keri Russell
    Ellen Pompeo
    Claire Danes
    Mary McDonnell (Major Crimes)
    Lucy Lui

    • MrMank says:

      If McDonnell didn’t get an Emmy for Battlestar Galactica, she ain’t gettin’ an Emmy for anything!!

  11. jim smith says:

    why no emily deschenel

  12. mar says:

    mi voto es Ellen Pompeo

  13. brycealexander says:


    • Jamie says:

      I’ll be happy if she scores a nod. I’m not sure she nor Orphan Black are well known enough for her to pull a win :(

  14. GS says:

    No way should Connie Briton score a nod over Hayden! Hayden is the only reason I keep watching…she was awesome all season long and she can actually sing! On another note, Kerry Washington to should definitely be in there for Scandal!

    • Aprilcot says:

      I love Connie Britton, but I have to agree with you on Hayden Panettiere. She had some pretty juicy material this season. That scene by her mother’s casket and where she freaks out before the CMAs? Impressive.

    • Ally Oop says:

      I just finished posting the same thing before I read the comments. Hayden was AMAZING this year and definitely should get the nod over Connie. Connie was good but Hayden just knocked it all out of the park.

    • juan says:

      they are in 2 different categories so that they both have a chance and I do agree that Hayden had an amazing season and she deserves a nomination, though if she is nominated I would still go for Monica Potter ftw in that category. I do hope that Connie gets the nomination even though its a very crowded field and she is very good.

    • I think Hayden is gonna be submitted for the supporting category and Connie is being submitted for the lead category.

  15. Gabe says:

    Tatiana could fill all 6 slots for me. She is amazing and I really want to see her get a nod here.

    • Cassie says:

      I think she’s a shoo in for a nomination, I think the only thing blocking her from a win might be Claire Danes, critics just love her. The fact that not only does Tatiana play each character distinctively is impressive. The fact that you can tell when she is playing a character impersonating one of the others is amazing. Love love love the episode with Allison’s potluck party; I hope that’s the one she submitted for consideration.

  16. Linderella says:

    Tatiana for the win.

  17. Aprilcot says:

    Vera Farmiga and Hayden Panettiere are the only two that I really feel strongly about. Bates Motel may have been up and down this season, but Vera was on point in every episode. The way she zips from cheery to vengeful and back again is scary good.

  18. lyn says:

    The only one I care about is from the only one of these shows that I watch. Michelle Dockery on Downton Abbey.

  19. BP says:

    Ellen Pompeo for an Emmy! Long overdue, well deserved.

  20. Jenny says:

    If someone like Ellen Pompeo wins over actresses like Robin Wright or Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black it proves 100% that the voters do not watch the shows.

    • Jamie says:

      LMAO. I love Ellen Pompeo and its a shame that she keeps getting overlooked, but I’d like to see her be able to act and create 6 different personalities of what if essentially just herself, and pull it off successfully and realistically. Tatiana has managed to do all this and more especially when a large number of her scenes simply involve herself. It’s an incredibly difficult feat and Tatiana pulled it off with flying colors, and it was much more challenging than anything that Ellen was faced with this season of Grey’s Anatomy.

      • MrMank says:

        If Pompeo was ever going to be nominated (I forget if she ever was) it would be in the first few seasons of the show. That show’s star has long faded. The only Emmy nods it ever gets anymore are for Guest Actors.

    • Ana says:

      Agreed but no way will Ellen Pompeo score a nom. She’s not even the best actress on Grey’s nevermind in comparison to these other ladies.

  21. Sara says:


    As she (as Debra) would have said: JESUS FU*KING CHRIST!

  22. Connie Britton and Tatiana Maslany!

  23. I have to admit - I laughed says:

    Lots of good choices – I’d like to see a few more ‘broadcast’ television nominees, rather than all cable nominees – just to keep things interesting. Connie or Hayden or Kerry? Julianna perhaps? The Parenthood ladies I guess would be in the supporting category? If Ms. Potter does not get a nomination, I’m not going to be very happy.
    All that said, I have to give the nod to Claire Danes (again) in the lead category. Last year when she won for Homeland, I rolled my eyes. But then I started to watch the show. That Carrie scene (THAT scene) last December, where ‘she is turning it around’ w/Brody, and her colleagues are listening in. That scene is hard not to like and laugh; maybe Claire for best comedy actress? If you all get a chance, check out that scene/video online – very funny – the look on her colleagues faces as they listen in – priceless! ;)

    • Jamie says:

      I love Mama Taylor, but I don’t think Connie’s work on Nashville (a ok written show at best) deserves a nomination for her work this season. I’ll never agree with the notion that someone should be discounted solely because they’ve worked on a cable show. They should be nominated if they’re deserving and unfortunately I don’t think there are many network actress worthy of nominations in comparison to some of the cable performances that have been submitted.

      I mean Elizabeth Moss and Keri Russell have turned in stronger performances than the woman you’ve mentioned IMO. So has Tatiana Maslany. If any network actress deserves a nomination (besides the always stellar Juliana Marguiles) it should be Lucy Lui for some of the fantastic character work she’s done with Joan Watson this season.

  24. Stephen S. says:

    So disappointed that you left out Anna Torv. She deserves to be a dream emmy ballot. Also love Emily Van Camp in Revenge.

    • Stephen S. says:

      Hahaha! Oops. Didn’t read the * part where Anna Torv apparently did not submit herself. That’s too bad. I mean, I know her chances were nil, but still. It’s still too bad.

  25. Claire Danes, Kerry Washington, Keri Russell, Vera Farmiga, Julianna Margulies and Connie Britton

  26. S. from E. now says:

    Tatiana Maslany all the way!!! I had heard so many amazing things about her performance before I had even seen the first episode. Though I had those enormously high expectations she completely blew me away and was so much more better than I expected. And I am not one to say something like that lightly!

  27. 1. Claire Danes, 2. Tatiana Maslany, 3. Vera Farmiga, 4. Julianna Margulies,5. Elisabeth Moss, 6. Connie Britton

    • Jamie says:

      Obviously you don’t watch the Americans, otherwise Keri Russell would be on your ballot. I mean she’s the only actress who realistically has any chance of taking the Emmy from Claire Danes

    • Jamie says:

      Bonus points for including Tatiana though ;)

  28. TL says:

    Claire Danes, Keri Russell, Vera Farmiga, Tatiana Maslany, Julianna Marguiles

  29. Eliza says:

    I would love to see Tatiana Maslany & Keri Russell nominated!

  30. My nominees would be:

    1. Kerry Washington – Scandal
    2. Connie Britton – Nashville
    3. Emily Van Camp – Revenge
    4. Julianna Margulies – The Good wife
    5. Hayden Panettiere – Nashville
    6. Ellen Pompeo – Grey’s Anatomy

    **Really Wish Anna Torv submitted herself for Emmy consideration – she is just so freaking amazing – she deserves an Emmy!

    • John DeMayo says:

      She didn’t?!?!?!?! What?!?!?!

    • Jamie says:

      Remove Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere and Ellen Pompeo and replace them with Tatiana Maslany, Emmy Rossum, and Elizabeth Moss (How could not include her?!?!?! Even if you don’t like Mad Men, you can’t honestly think the other actresses turned in more nuanced, subtle, great performances can you?? )

  31. Et al. says:

    Vera Farmiga should get one nomination and Tatiana the rest. They are the true stars of this season.

  32. Jean says:

    I’m happy as long as Maslany, Danes, Britton and Farmiga get nominated.

  33. Dinna Burns says:

    Katey Sagal
    Keri Russell
    Connie Britton

  34. JKR says:

    Claire Danes, Keri Russell, Robin Wright.

  35. Steven says:

    1. Julianna Margulies – The Good Wife
    2. Emmy Rossum – Shameless (Should win)
    3. Emily Van Camp – Revenge
    4. Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
    5. Madeleine Stowe – Revenge
    6. Kerry Washington -Scandal

    • Dave says:

      Steven: While I think that madeline stowe was killer in the first season of Revenge… I felt season 2 really didnt have much juicy stuff to off her. I def agree with Emily VanCamp though, she has amazing range this season!

  36. Ally Oop says:

    I just finished watching the last 8 episodes of Nashville in a marathon run and I have to say that Hayden Panetierre did a supremely good job in her role of Juliette Barnes. I was never a fan of Hayden before but boy she killed it. I think she outshone Connie Britton.

  37. shanise says:

    claire danes
    katey sagal
    connie britton
    Julianna Margulies

  38. Géraldine says:

    Jessica Capshaw should be nominated too. She was terrific this season even if AZ storyline sucked! :-D

  39. Luis says:

    Just nominate Tatiana 6 times – outstanding!

  40. Warren says:

    Any list without Tatiana Maslany is immediately disqualified for not having a damn clue ;p

    She literally plays 80% of the characters on that show.

  41. mj says:

    Kerry Washington!!

  42. Sam says:

    As long as Tatiana Maslany is nominated, I’ll be happy!

  43. Nerdbot says:

    “*Before you ask, Anna Torv of Fringe did not submit herself for Emmy consideration.” WHY???????

    Anyway, I like Orphan Black and I think Tatiana Maslany does a very good job performing her clones, but I’m really gonna be pissed off if she wins, considering that Anna Torv was amazing playing different versions of Olivia since season 3 of Fringe and she didn’t win an Emmy and wasn’t even nominated.

    • Missmurray says:

      Oh so nobody else is allowed to be nominated cause that overrated wench didn’t get nominated? Frankly, Titana should win an Emmy so I can shove it in your “nobody else matters but Anna” face.

    • Jamie says:

      I love Anna Torv, but the majority of Tatiana’s scenes are literally with herself. At least Anna Torv could play off John Noble and Joshua Jackson. Tatiana’s role has been much more difficult. While I think it’s unfair that the Emmy’s have shown such a strong bias towards Sci-Fi/genre shows which unfortunately resulted in no nods for the stellar Fringe, it’s actually kinda rude that you wouldn’t want another actress to be nominated. In fact, having experienced those frustrations, why would you wish that on another actress or other fans. Shows the kind of person you are TBH.

      • Nerdbot says:

        Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t have said (or meant) that if Anna didn’t win an Emmy, no other actress playing multiple roles deserves the award. It was just that Tatiana has received so much attention for her work that I thought it’d have been nice if Torv had got some recognition, I mean, from the people in charge of these awards. As I said in my first comment, I like Orphan Black AND Tatiana Maslany and, anyway, it’d be great if a sci-fi show and an actress on it wins an Emmy.

    • chevalierv says:

      she didn’t submit herself, cuz she was in doubt if she was the protagonist or supporting. due to her role in S5

      • Missmurray says:

        Anna is just selfish wench who thinks josh and John are not worthy of any type of storyline.
        Sorry Anna, the world is not in love with you.

        • Pati D says:

          You really need to get a life, it seems like you are way too much into Anna’s head to know what she’s thinking about her former co-stars. All that hate could be put toward something more productive.

        • Bete says:

          the third season was the best season of fringe and fifth season was the worst season, that answers the question:” who was truly the heart and soul of show?” Anna Torv truly was the heart and soul of show …without she, as lead, the show became too boring and it lost ratings and credibility

          • Joanne says:

            Well that’s your opinion. I really enjoyed season 5, because it was different and we got to see another side of Olivia and to see her complete her journey. There are a lot of other people who enjoyed season 5 and don’t think it’s the worst season. We got to see all three complete their journeys and with it being the end of the show, that was what was important.

  44. ddutchie88 says:

    1. Tatiana Maslany
    2. Emmy Rossum
    3. Claire Danes
    4. Julianna Margulies

  45. Sue says:

    Emmy Rossum!!!! She was amazing this season on Shameless.

  46. Swift says:

    Look last year was definitely Claire Danes’ year, and she was great again this year. She hands down deserved the Emmy. The fact of the matter is though, that Glenn Close deserves the win for the Damages finale. I made die hard Homeland fans who, like most people, do not watch Damages watch Glenn Close’s performance and I found that many of them agreed with me.

    It’s unfortunate that the academy will likely overlook her because Damages has no popularity anymore. I urge you all to watch the series if you haven’t, or at least watch the series finale before making up your mind on this category.

  47. Angie says:

    I have to go with Tatiana Maslany as my favorite. I know she’s a dark horse candidate, but for me she’s Gillian Anderson 2.0. Gillian was also from a cult classic, genre show, but she managed to snare an Emmy win by the show’s fourth or fifth season, I believe.
    What Tatiana has done in a single inaugural season far surpasses impressive acting. She is leagues better than anyone else on television right now.
    As for who else should be nominated in this category, I’d go with Keri Russell, Katey Sagal, Glenn Close, and Mary McDonnell.

  48. John DeMayo says:

    Why is Ellen Pompeo even included on this list? Every other actress on that show is far more deserving than she is.

  49. Karen says:

    How is Elisabeth Moss not a dream nominee for TvLine?! She has (almost) singlehandedly made this season of Mad Men. She rules every scene she is in, and I would actually prefer her to win over Claire Danes, even though she too is quite the awesome leading lady

    • Jamie says:

      It baffles me as well, although I personally think Claire still deserves the win for the strength of Q&A alone. It’s clear she’s the frontrunner at this point. TBH I think, with all it’s buzz, Keri Russell is more likely to score an upset than Elizabeth Moss.

    • Ellie says:

      Elisabeth Moss IS included. go back through the list again

  50. Magali says:

    Tatiana Maslany for the win definitely… My other choices are:
    Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, Elisabeth Moss and Kerry Washington.