Emmys 2015: A mix of old, new and history-making in drama leads

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from "Mad Men," season 7.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in a scene from “Mad Men,” season 7.

(Justina Mintz / AP)

Cookie got hers Thursday morning.

As many predicted, Taraji P. Henson was among the nominees for lead actress in a drama series for her scene-stealing turn as hip-hop matriarch Cookie Lyon in Fox’s smash hit, “Empire.”

She was nominated alongside Viola Davis, who stars as Annalise Keating in the ABC legal thriller “How to Get Away With Murder.”

Emmy Nominations: Complete list | Snubs/Surprises | Nominees react | Diversity | PHOTOS: Nominees | Reactions


It’s the first time that two African American women have been nominated for lead actress in a drama, a contest that has yet to be won by a black performer.

Davis and Henson were among several fresh faces who made the cut in the intensely competitive lead drama acting categories.

Another newbie in the actress category is Tatiana Maslany, who plays close to a dozen different characters in the BBC America drama “Orphan Black” and had been overlooked -- to the consternation of many -- two previous years.

Returning to the category are two-time winner Claire Danes for her work as CIA agent Carrie Mathison on “Homeland” (Showtime), Robin Wright as First Lady Claire Underwood on “House of Cards” (Netflix) and Elisabeth Moss for her portrayal of the ambitious Peggy Olson in the final season of “Mad Men” (AMC).

With “True Detective” leads Matthew McConaughey and last year’s winner, “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston, no longer in contention, the lead actor in a drama field also included new entrants.

Still, the academy seemed keen to honor the legacy of “Breaking Bad” by nominating Bob Odenkirk for his role as Jimmy McGill, the man who would become Saul Goodman, in AMC’s well-received prequel, “Better Call Saul.” Another first-timer in the category is Liev Schreiber, who plays fixer Ray Donovan on Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.”


Kyle Chandler, a 2011 Emmy winner for “Friday Night Lights,” was nominated for the Netflix’s freshman family drama “Bloodline,” in which he stars as Florida deputy John Rayburn.


The remaining three nominees have been recognized for these roles before.

Jon Hamm earned his eighth and final nomination for “Mad Men “(AMC), where his portrayal of ad man Don Draper has yet to win the big prize. The 2013 winner, Jeff Daniels, also scored a nod for his swan song as newsman Will McAvoy on “The Newsroom” (HBO), and Kevin Spacey rounded out the category with his third nomination for “House of Cards,” in which he plays Machiavellian politician Frank Underwood (Netflix).

Left out of the acting race was Henson’s “Empire” castmate Terrence Howard, who plays ruthless impresario Lucious Lyon, Matthew Rhys of “The Americans” (FX) and Clive Owen of “The Knick” (Showtime), among others.

In an indication of the quantity of high-quality dramatic roles for women on the small screen, numerous talented performers failed to make the cut this year, including 2014 winner Julianna Margulies of “The Good Wife,” as well as Taylor Schilling (“Orange is the New Black,” Netflix), Lizzy Caplan (“Masters of Sex,” Showtime) and Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey,” PBS). Also overlooked was Keri Russell for “The Americans” (FX).

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