After years of being overlooked, Maya Rudolph took home not one but two Emmys last year, for her guest appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and her voiceover work on “Big Mouth.” Rudolph returned to “SNL” in the fall to reprise her role as then-vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris in multiple episodes and went on to host her own episode in March. In total, she appeared in eight of this season’s 20 episodes, falling just short of having to be automatically placed in Best Comedy Supporting Actress at the Emmys. Instead, she will compete again in Best Comedy Guest Actress, where her chances of repeating are significant.
While not qualifying for supporting, Rudolph had a sizable impact in the first half of the season, guesting as Harris in each of the first six episodes. In many weeks, she also appeared in other sketches in different roles, making her a quasi-cast member in the lead-up to the 2020 election. She had numerous viral moments as Harris, including the vice presidential debate and her intro to Joe Biden‘s victory speech. In her hosted episode, she portrayed Harris in the White House, bouncing off of Martin Short as the VP’s husband, Doug Emhoff.
This year’s Emmy ballots won’t be released until June 17, the first day of nomination voting, so we don’t yet know what the competition for Rudolph will look like. If recent Emmy patterns continue, she will likely face other “SNL” hosts, such as Adele, Issa Rae, Regina King or her old buddy Kristen Wiig. Best Comedy Guest Actress has gone to an “SNL” contender in four of the last five years including Rudolph, so it’s clear that voters have a fondness for the show that should give Rudolph an edge this year.
What may help Rudolph and other “SNL” players is the lack of typical competition the show usually faces. Other Emmy favorites in the comedy guest categories, like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Good Place” (for which Rudolph was nominated three times, including last year) and “Atlanta,” either ended or didn’t air new episodes this season, so the familiarity of Rudolph and “SNL” should make her the frontrunner to take home another Emmy in September.
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