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2016 Emmy Contenders: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

Last year, Viola Davis made history as the first African-American woman to win the lead actress prize, and she could well repeat this year for her searing work on “How to Get Away With Murder.” With the exception of Elisabeth Moss, whose “Mad Men” ended its on-air run last year, Davis’ competition is likely to be the same: Claire Danes (“Homeland”), Taraji P. Henson (“Empire”), Tatiana Maslany (“Orphan Black”) and Robin Wright (“House of Cards”).

Or, voters could choose to recognize Julianna Margulies, who has already won twice for “The Good Wife” — most recently in 2014 ­­— yet wasn’t even nominated last year. With the series finale still fresh in voter’s minds, they would be wise to reward Margulies for her seven seasons of remarkable work. Along those lines, Michelle Dockery, nominated in 2012, 2013 and 2014 for “Downton Abbey,” could slip back in now that the show has ended.

Or perhaps voters will finally recognize the outstanding work of Keri Russell on “The Americans” or Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson for “The Affair.” Taylor Schilling has scored a previous nom for her work on “Orange Is the New Black,” but that was when it was submitted in comedy. Could the third season’s more dramatic tone help her break through in this category?


Claire Danes (HOMELAND)


Michelle Dockery (DOWNTON ABBEY)

Taraji P. Henson (EMPIRE)

Julianna Margulies (THE GOOD WIFE)

Tatiana Maslany (ORPHAN BLACK)

Keri Russell (THE AMERICANS)

Taylor Schilling (ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK)

Ruth Wilson (THE AFFAIR)

Robin Wright (HOUSE OF CARDS)


Joan Allen (THE FAMILY)

Gillian Anderson (THE X-FILES)

Shiri Appleby (UNREAL)

Caitriona Balfe (OUTLANDER)

Lizzy Caplan (MASTERS OF SEX)


Vera Farmiga (BATES MOTEL)


Jennifer Lopez (SHADES OF BLUE)

Michelle Monaghan (THE PATH)


Kerry Washington (SCANDAL)


Jaimie Alexander (BLINDSPOT)

Melissa Benoist (SUPERGIRL)

Connie Britton (NASHVILLE)

Sarah Wayne Callies (COLONY)

Laura Carmichael (DOWNTON ABBEY)

Priyanka Chopra (QUANTICO)




Mireille Enos (THE CATCH)

Mariska Hargitay (LAW & ORDER: SVU)

Hannah James (MERCY STREET)

Ellen Pompeo (GREY’S ANATOMY)

Jurnee Smollett-Bell (UNDERGROUND)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead (MERCY STREET)

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