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As the Emmy race heads toward the first phase of voting (with nomination ballots open starting July 2), Variety senior editors Michael Schneider and Danielle Turchiano break down the drama lead actress category for this edition of Variety‘s “Awards Heat” video series presented by Apple TV Plus.

Among the top contenders: Olivia Colman, “The Crown” (Netflix); Jennifer Aniston, “The Morning Show” (Apple TV Plus); Sandra Oh, “Killing Eve” (BBC America); Jodie Comer, “Killing Eve” (BBC America); Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies” (HBO).

Schneider and Turchiano also give their picks for potential nominees they believe deserve to be selected, including MJ Rodriguez of FX’s “Pose” and Zendaya of HBO’s “Euphoria.”

Comer won the category last year for her portrayal of international assassin Villanelle on “Killing Eve.”

Variety‘s “Awards Heat” presented by Apple TV Plus takes a look at the Emmy competition, as Schneider and Turchiano analyze and dissect the hottest Emmy races. Other episodes will look at the program races, including drama, comedy and limited series, as well as other key acting categories.

Nominations for the 72nd Emmys will be announced on July 28. The Creative Arts Emmys, which focus mostly on artisan categories, such as art direction, casting, cinematography, costume, editing, makeup, sound mixing, technical direction, camerawork, music and much more, will take place via virtual events in September, with details coming soon. The Primetime Emmy telecast, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will air on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, with more details about the logistics of that program also coming soon.

Meanwhile, to keep up with the latest news, trends, hot topics and other exclusives regarding this year’s Emmys and other awards competitions, subscribe to Variety‘s weekly Awards HQ newsletter. Go to and click “Awards Season/Awards HQ,” in order to receive a new edition every Monday afternoon.