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Before Emmy Gold: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series / TV Movie Actress

This week, we’re taking a look at this year’s Emmy nominees and digging into their past work and credits that may have influenced their Emmy-nominated work this year.

Who’s going to win Best Limited Series/TV Movie Actress? This race is wide open. A case could be made for any of the potential nominees to win. Only, Julia Garner (Inventing Anna), Lilly James (Pam & Tommy) and Amanda Seyfried (The Dropout)

Toni Collette

Nominated for: The Staircase

Past Emmy History: Win for Best Comedy Actress for United States of Tara (2009)

Previous Awards: Oscar Nomination Best Supporting Actress for The Sixth Sense (1999)

Hidden Gem: Hereditary (2018)

Collette has over 75 acting credits to her name. She received one of her earliest breaks in the film Muriel’s Wedding (1994) and in Velvet Goldmine, (1998). Collette has been in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: The Sixth Sense (1999), The Hours (2002) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006). For the The Sixth Sense she received an Oscar Nomination Best Supporting Actress. 

On television she won her only Emmy to date for United States of Tara where she played a mom with dissociative identity disorder (commonly known as multiple personality disorder). Collette has received two previous Emmy nominations for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actress for Tsunami: The Aftermath (2007) and Unbelievable (2020). Her fifth career Emmy nomination comes for the role of Kathleen Peterson, who was found dead at the bottom of The Staircase. Collette, dies in each episode in a different way while also conveying different scenarios of her characters untimely death. Collette gives a masterful physically difficult performance. 

Julia Garner

Nominated for: Inventing Anna and for Best Drama Supporting Actress for Ozark

Past Emmy History: Winner Best Drama Supporting Actress for Ozark (2019-2020)

Previous Awards: N/A

Hidden Gem: The Assistant

Garner, got her first break in films Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). Garner then started to get noticed with roles in Limited Series: Waco (2018), Mania (2018), and Dirty John (2018). But it was her role as foul mouthed Ruth Langmore on Ozark (2017-2022) that brought her two Emmy wins to date and a Golden Globe and SAG Award nomination. In Inventing Anna, Garner plays real-life scam artist Anna Delvey who posed as a German heiress stealing money from New York elites. Garner gives a stellar performance that viewers couldn’t take their eyes off of. The series was #1 on Netflix for weeks. For fun you can see Garner in a clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live, delivering Ruth’s lines as Anna and vice versa. 

Lilly James

Nominated for: Pam & Tommy

Past Emmy History: N/A

Previous Awards: N/A

Hidden Gem: Pam & Tommy

James, first got audiences, attention with her role on the mega-popular Downton Abbey (2012-2015) and in the Limited Series War & Peace (2016). On film she would play the title role in the live-action Cinderella (2015). She would go on to play the Young Donna in the sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)—the role of Donna was originated by Meryl Streep that’s some pretty big shoes to fill. But this was all in the lead up to the transformative performance she gives as Pamela Anderson in Pam & Tommy. James, finds the humanity in a woman whose privacy was violated and became the object of mockery. If you haven’t seen it you should.

Sarah Paulson

Nominated for: Impeachment: American Crime Story

Past Emmy History: Win for Best Limited Series/TV Movie for The People vs. OJ Simpson

Previous Awards: Paulson made awards history as the first actress to win the top five awards: Emmy, TCA, Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG for The People vs. OJ Simpson (2016) 

Hidden Gem: Game Change

Paulson, first got her start like many of her fellow performers with a guest spot on Law & Order (1994). She’s appeared in Oscar Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Best Picture nominee The Post (2017) as well as prestige film Carol (2015) and on the comedy side Ocean’s Eight (2018).

However its Paulson’s work in Limited Series, Anthologies and Television Movies where she’s best known. Paulson gained her first Emmy nomination for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actress for her role as Nicole Wallace in Game Change (2012). But she’s best known for her work in Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story—where she earned five Emmy nominations (2013-2016 and 2018). However, her role as Marcia Clark finally put her in the winner circle making history as the first actress to win the top five awards: Emmy, TCA, Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG for The People vs. OJ Simpson (2016). Back in The American Crime Story Series this time she plays Linda Tripp and is hoping that playing a real-life person will give her a second long overdue trophy.

Margaret Qualley

Nominated for: MAID

Past Emmy History: Nomination for Best Limited Series/TV Movie Supporting Actress for Fosse/Verdon (2019)

Previous Awards: Golden Globe, SAG Award, Critics Choice and TCA Award nomination for her work in MAID.

Hidden Gem: The Leftovers

Qualley, first came to viewer’s attention in The Leftovers (2014-2017). In 2019, she starred opposite Sam Rockwell and Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon (2019) as actress and dancer Ann Reinking. Not done, Qualley would have a memorable role in Oscar Best Picture nominee Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019). Qualley, stars in MAID as Alex Russell who would go on to write the memoir that the Limited Series is based on. Qualley’s Alex escapes an abusive relationship and takes work cleaning homes. In the series she stars opposite her real-life Mother Andie MacDowell. Since MAID, debuted in October, Qualley, has already received a Golden Globe, SAG Award, Critics Choice Award nomination losing to last year’s Emmy winner Kate Winslet (Mare of Easttown). And the TCA Award to Many Moore (This is Us). Still giving Qualley a chance at Emmy glory.

Amanda Seyfried

Nominated for: The Dropout

Past Emmy Nominations: N/A

Previous Awards: Oscar Nomination Best Supporting Actress for Mank (2020)

Hidden Gem: Big Love

Golden Globe, SAG Award, Critics Choice

Seyfried, got her start on sops As the World Turns (1999-2001) and All My Children (2003). But it was her first film the instant-classic Mean Girls (2004) where she first got audiences attention. Her next big role was on the television series Big Love (2006-2011) playing the oldest daughter of a polygamist family. This helped her land the role of Sophie in the film musical Mama Mia (2008). Followed up with romance films Dear John and Letters to Juliet (2010) and the action film In Time (2011). Seyfried, went back to musicals appearing as Cosette in Les Misérables (2012) her first appearance in an Oscar Best Picture nominee. Seyfried, reprised her role in the sequel in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018). Next Seyfried, starred in Mank as Marion Davies earning her first Oscar Nomination for Best Supporting Actress and the film was the second time she appeared in a Best Picture Nomination. Seyfried proved up to the task of taking on the role of Elizabeth Holmes in The Dropout finding the humanity in the polarizing figure. But she did so with the knowledge that Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence would be taking on the roll next in the expected film Bad Blood.

Fun Emmy Pairing:  If both Seyfried and Allen and up to it they both appeared in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Allen as Seyfried’s mother which could potentially lead to comedy gold!!


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Written by @msamandaspears

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