With the 71st Emmy Awards coming up on September 22, predictions are being made on which nominees will be taking home trophies this year. Professionals in every corner of the industry have their favorites, and casting directors, in particular, have an especially interesting take on the acting nominations. Lisa Miller Katz and Christine Sheaks hold some impressive TV casting credits between them, and they took time from their busy schedules to tell Casting Networks their top picks for the major lead acting categories.


Nominations for Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Anthony Anderson (black-ish)

Bill Hader (Barry)

Don Cheadle (Black Monday)

Eugene Levy (Schitt’s Creek)

Michael Douglas (The Kominsky Method)

Ted Danson (The Good Place)


Casting Directors’ Picks:

Miller Katz: Don Cheadle

Black Monday is so fresh and raw, and his performance is just effortless but still so real.”

Sheaks: Bill Hader and Michael Douglas (Tie)

“They’re both playing characters that are so interesting, and they, in turn, are putting a fastball on their performances that produce a mesmerizing effect.”


Nominations for Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek)

Christina Applegate (Dead to Me)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag)

Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel)


Casting Directors’ Picks: 

Sheaks: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

“Every molecule in [her] body delivers comedy at the height of her game. She embodies a character in a show that will stand the test of time.”

Miller Katz: Natasha Lyonne

Russian Doll took my breath away for so many reasons, starting with her performance. I loved being in such a strange and mind-stretching Wonderland because she was such an amazing Alice.”


Nominations for Lead Actor in a Drama Series:

Billy Porter (Pose)

Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)

Jason Bateman (Ozark)

Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)

Milo Ventimiglia (This Is Us)

Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)


Casting Directors’ Picks: 

Miller Katz: Jason Bateman

“I’d love to see Jason win here. His career has been so extensive and varied, and what he’s doing in Ozark is just remarkable in terms of depth and darkness.”

Sheaks: Kit Harington

“It’s like Kit Harington has to do a Marvel feature film every single episode. Besides being a good actor, he has a soulful quality that the whole world has fallen in love with.”


Nominations for Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)

Jodie Comer (Killing Eve)

Laura Linney (Ozark)

Mandy Moore (This Is Us)

Robin Wright (House of Cards)

Sandra Oh (Killing Eve)

Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder)


Casting Directors’ Picks: 

Sheaks: Emilia Clarke

“All the lead actresses are fantastic, but Emilia has to bring depth to a character that is powerful and very action-oriented because of the nature of the show. It’s not an easy thing to pull off, and she does it effortlessly.”

Miller Katz: Sandra Oh 

Killing Eve is such a wild ride, but Sandra Oh is the beating heart of this twisted, thrilling show. I never know what’s going to happen next, but it’s all okay with Sandra at the helm.”

This year’s Emmy nominations include some special trends, such as HBO and Game of Thrones both making new records for themselves. If you have yet to select your own top picks, check out the full list of nominations before this year’s awards show.


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