Could Zendaya Actually Win An Emmy? Here Are The Expert Predictions

Right now, it’s difficult to imagine going to a restaurant, let alone watching an award show, an event known for packing hundreds of people into tight seats in an enclosed area — usually for hours at a time. Hollywood may have gone on hiatus when the pandemic started, but an awards show hiatus? The industry would never. The Hollywood awards show complex is evolving during the COVID-19 pandemic. On Sunday, September 20, the 2020 Emmy awards are going entirely virtual

While the logistics of a virtual Emmys are impossible to predict, one fact isn’t: The Television Academy will be handing out 15 major awards on Emmy night. We will get a new Outstanding Drama Series leader after Game of Thrones’ shocking 2019 win for its controversial final season. Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer will defend her Outstanding Drama Actress trophy against strong opposition from actresses like Euphoria’s Zendaya, who is poised to become the youngest winner of the statue in Emmys history. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel will attempt to come back after its Fleabag comedy defeat last year — only now the Amazon Prime series has competition from the farewell seasons of Schitt’s Creek and The Good Place

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Every single 2020 Emmys race is fierce, with some including battling Oscar winners. To help you feel like the smartest person in your Zoom watch party, we’ve studied at the tea leaves — aka years of Emmys history and buzz — to figure out which nominee is most likely to win. Keep reading for a full guide to every Emmys 2020 category, its predicted winner, and a complete explanation. Keep coming back as we inch closer to the Emmys’ premiere. We’ll be updating with new categories until September 20. 

Outstanding Drama Series


Better Call Saul (AMC)
The Crown (Netflix)
The Handmaid's Tale (Hulu)
Killing Eve (BBC America)
The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Ozark (Netflix)
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Succession (HBO)

Predicted winner: Succession. HBO’s cult favorite is the one to beat here — and it’s unlikely any other drama series will. Succession ties Ozark as the most-nominated drama series of 2020. However, Ozark’s home of Netflix has never actually won an Outstanding Drama Emmy (Hulu is the sole streamer with that honor thanks to 2017 juggernaut Handmaid’s Tale). HBO, on the other hand, took home four of the last ten drama Emmys, and Succession appears to be the heir apparent to just-ended Academy favorite Game of Thrones

Plus, Succession boasts a whopping nine acting nominations between lead, supporting, and guests categories. Thrones, which won Best Drama last year, had the exact same number. Ozark has only three acting noms.

Outstanding Comedy Series


Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Dead to Me (Netflix)
The Good Place (NBC)
Insecure (HBO)
The Kominsky Method (Netflix)
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon)
Schitt's Creek (Pop)
What We Do in the Shadows (FX)

Predicted winner: Schitt’s Creek. Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been a contender in this race since its 2017 debut, but the Amazon show lost to Fleabag’s instant-classic second season last year. Over the last 15 years, no comedy has won Outstanding Comedy one year, lost the race its subsequent year, and then came back to win ever again (ask 30 Rock and The Office). 

Instead, the Academy will likely be looking to crown a new reigning leader in comedy. Schitt’s Creek seems the most likely, between its 15 nominations and buzzy just-wrapped status. The comedy’s stable of beloved comedy actors — like Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara — doesn’t hurt, since previous winners like Veep and Modern Family relied on similar star support for their wins. 

Outstanding Limited Series


Little Fires Everywhere (Hulu)
Mrs. America (FX on Hulu)
Unbelievable (Netflix)
Unorthodox (Netflix)
Watchmen (HBO)

Predicted winner: Watchmen. HBO and FX have been annually trading this award back and forth since 2013 with HBO’s Behind the Candelabra win. Last year, the premium cabler won Outstanding Limited Series with Chernobyl. That should mean FX is poised to win in 2020 with Mrs. America

Yet, Limited Series always goes to the buzziest qualifier of the year. Watchmen, with its outstanding performances and disturbingly topical storylines, is that series. This descriptor is especially apt now, as America heads into a new civil rights movement. HBO even capitalized on Watchmen’s importance in June, making the anti-racist series free to watch for non-subscribers over Juneteenth weekend.

Outstanding Drama Actress


Jennifer Aniston (The Morning Show)
Olivia Colman (The Crown)
Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)
Laura Linney (Ozark)
Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)
Zendaya (Euphoria)

Predicted winner: Jennifer Aniston. Save for Claire Danes during Homeland’s heyday, no actress has won Outstanding Drama Actress in back-to-back years. That means 2019 winner Jodie Comer likely will not take home the gold in 2020. Comer’s co-star Sandra Oh is also an unlikely winner considering Killing Eve’s lower-profile third season.

Out of the remaining nominees, Morning Show’s Jennifer Aniston has the most promising chance of winning. She is a Big Name, leading a much-talked-about new show with a track record of Academy love (six prior nominations and one win in 2002). While many awards prognosticators cite Laura Linney as Aniston’s biggest competition, Euphoria’s Zendaya still has a chance. After all, Comer won last year as the youngest nominee and the biggest unknown. Twenty-four-year-old Zendaya, on the other hand, is a Marvel-grade movie star.
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Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama


Laura Dern (Big Little Lies)
Meryl Streep (Big Little Lies)
Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown)
Samira Wiley (The Handmaid's Tale)
Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve)
Julia Garner (Ozark)
Sarah Snook (Succession)
Thandie Newton (Westworld)

Predicted winner: Sarah Snook. The Succession cast is attempting to announce a dynasty with the 2020 Emmys and their nine acting nominations (even the Thrones team managed just one acting Emmy for its second season). Snook is the only Succession star who isn’t competing with a colleague. The lack of inter-cast vote-splitting and Succession’s pre-show goodwill should lead Snook to a hard-fought victory as she goes up against the two Oscar winners from Big Little Lies.  

If you’re wondering about opposition from last year’s category winner Juila Garner, know only three actresses have netted back-to-back wins this century: the extremely-established-at-the-time trio of Allison Janney, Blythe Danner, and Anna Gunn. 

Outstanding Comedy Actress


Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)
Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Linda Cardellini (Dead to Me)
Catherine O'Hara (Schitt's Creek)
Issa Rae (Insecure)
Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish)

Predicted winner: Christina Applegate. If you look around the internet, Schitt’s Creek’s Catherine O’Hara appears to be the frontrunner in this race. It’s a sensible assumption, since O’Hara is a comedy icon who leads a competitive Outstanding Comedy nominee. 

However, no Outstanding Comedy Actress this century has received a first-time win for their work in a finale season. Instead, the Academy prefers to bestow this award upon actresses whose series is in its very inchoate stages. Everyone from America Ferrera to Melissa McCarthy and Rachel Brosnahan won for the first season of their respective comedies. Current winner Phoebe Waller-Bridge won for the second season of Fleabag. That’s why Christina Applegate — an already well-known star who’s surprisingly never been nominated for an Emmy — is actually the most likely to win, for her performance in Dead to Me’s second season. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy


Betty Gilpin (GLOW)
D'Arcy Carden (The Good Place)
Yvonne Orji (Insecure)
Alex Borstein (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Marin Hinkle (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)
Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live)
Annie Murphy (Schitt's Creek)

Predicted winner: Annie Murphy. Alex Borstein has won this category two years in a row. However, no actress has won this award three years in a row for over two decades (save for the legendary Doris Roberts during the far less competitive early aughts). Schitt’s Creek’s Murphy seems poised to take the gold after an extremely memed finale season performance. It’s not like anyone else has an in-character performance with almost 2 million views on YouTube.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie


Cate Blanchett (Mrs. America)
Shira Haas (Unorthodox)
Regina King (Watchmen)
Octavia Spencer (Self Made)
Kerry Washington (Little Fires Everywhere)

Predicted winner: Regina King. Many are hoping to see the Emmys recognize — and support — our current civil rights movement with awards for excessively-deserving Black actors. While longtime Emmys darling King would be poised to win for her fearless Watchmen performance any year, it’s impossible to ignore the significance of such an accomplishment in 2020. King helped start conversations about the Tulsa Race massacre and the indelibly racist origins of police organizations months before Black Lives Matter protests sprung up across the country in June 2020. The Academy must reward her for that work. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie


Holland Taylor (Hollywood)
Uzo Aduba (Mrs. America)
Margo Martindale (Mrs. America)
Tracey Ullman (Mrs. America)
Toni Collette (Unbelievable)
Jean Smart (Watchmen)

Predicted winner: Jean Smart. The Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie race is one of the most wide open contests there are. Holland Taylor is nominated for a Ryan Murphy project — and four of the 2010s’ winners hail from the Murphyverse. Toni Collette is a four-time nominee and one-time winner. Multiple recent winners — like Temple Grandin’s Julia Ormond and Big Little Lies’ Laura Dern — competed against co-stars like the dueling Mrs. America trio. 

However, Jean Smart seems like your best bet. Winning this award comes down to having the most striking performance come voting time — the one that sticks in Academy members’ minds for months. Smart, as cynical, terrible joke-telling, gigantic blue dildo-toting Laurie Blake, fits the bill. The halo of Watchmen — and all of its dominant prestige — only helps.
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Outstanding Drama Actor


Jason Bateman (Ozark)
Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Steve Carell (The Morning Show)
Brian Cox (Succession)
Billy Porter (Pose)
Jeremy Strong (Succession)

Predicted winner: Jeremy Strong. After turning in one of 2019’s most talked about acting performances as Succession’s broken leading man Kendall Roy, Strong is destined to become the Television Academy’s No. 1 Boy. 

However, if Strong splits the category vote with co-star/TV daddy Brian Cox, he may see competition from Ozark’s Jason Bateman — who won the Directing for a Drama Emmy last year —  or The Morning Show’s Steve Carrell. After all, Carrell never actually won a single Emmy for playing The Office’s Michael Scott, a character who helped define 2000s comedy. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama


Giancarlo Esposito (Better Call Saul)
Bradley Whitford (The Handmaid's Tale)
Billy Crudup (The Morning Show)
Mark Duplass (The Morning Show)
Nicholas Braun (Succession)
Kieran Culkin (Succession)
Matthew Macfadyen (Succession)
Jeffrey Wright (Westworld)

Predicted winner: Kieran Culkin. Over the last decade, half of all Supporting Actor in a Drama winners have come from the corresponding Drama Series winner of that year. With Succession poised to take the top prize on Emmys night, its three nominated supporting actors are immediately in the best place to win their category. Then there is the fact that Culkin already has the most heat out of everyone in this race thanks to his quip-heavy turn as youngest Succession son Roman Roy. 

After giving multiple trophies to Aaron Paul and Peter Dinklage for their highly giphable performances in Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones respectively, it is clear there is nothing the Academy loves more for this category than a quip.

Outstanding Comedy Actor


Anthony Anderson (Black-ish)
Don Cheadle (Black Monday)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)
Eugene Levy (Schitt's Creek)
Ramy Youssef (Ramy)

Predicted winner: Ted Danson. Danson is a sitcom legend who hasn’t won an Emmy since 1993 — almost 30 years ago. Prior to 2020, he had five nominations since his final win for Cheers and always came up short. It’s likely The Academy will show their appreciation for all of Danson’s work over the past three decades by recognizing him for the final season of The Good Place

Yet, almost all of these points also apply to Danson’s biggest rival in this race: Eugene Levy. The Schitt’s Creek lead is another comedy great who hasn’t won an Emmy in years — see: his 1983 SCTV writing win — and is nominated for the closing season of his beloved comedy. Still, only one Comedy Actor winner from the past 15 years came from the show that also won the Comedy Series prize that year (its Alec Baldwin for 30 Rock). And we all know Schitt’s Creek is running away with Outstanding Comedy Series. 


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy

Adre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
William Jackson Harper (The Good Place)
Alan Arkin (The Kominsky Method)
Sterling K. Brown (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Tony Shalhoub (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)
Mahershala Ali (Ramy)
Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live)
Daniel Levy (Schitt's Creek)

Predicted winner: Daniel Levy. The 2020 Emmys are Levy’s debut as a bona fide television darling, with four nominations under his belt for the night for writing, directing, and producing — along with acting, of course. It is likely the Academy will reward Levy for pulling quadruple duty in Schitt’s Creek’s final, splashy season. However, he does have competition from Oscar-winner and movie star Mahershala Ali, who lost his two previous Emmy bids. 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeremy Irons (Watchmen)
Hugh Jackman (Bad Education)
Paul Mescal (Normal People)
Jeremy Pope (Hollywood)
Mark Ruffalo (I Know This Much Is True)

Predicted winner: Paul Mescal. This is another race that favors a splashy performances that start a Twitter conversation. It has also become especially kind to newer talent: the last three awards for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie have gone to Riz Ahmed, Darren Criss, and Jherrel Jerome. So, rising dreamboats Mescal and Hollywood star Jeremy Pope should be in the lead. 

While Pope turned in a heart wrenching performance as writer Archie Coleman, it’s Mascal who has been memed into infinity — and is still inspiring parody comedy almost five months after Normal People’s debut

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