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This story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Every year about this time, it’s a good idea to remind the 12,000 or so eligible Emmy voters of those actors, hosts or shows they might want to remember when casting their ballots. One could assume that no one, not even a sometime-clueless Emmy voter, is unfamiliar with Gina Rodriguez from The CW’s Jane the Virgin. Of course, everyone thought the same thing about a similar slam-dunk nominee two years ago in Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black, and look what happened there. Hence, a reminder of all the new goodness that shouldn’t be overlooked:
The breakout first-year comedy already is one of TV’s better stories — a nod toward diversity (which ABC did a lot this season) and flat-out funny at every turn. But Wu, 33, and Park, 41, as the parents trying to assimilate along with their family in Florida, are two incredible comic actors. Though Park has had several high-profile roles (including Kim Jong-un in The Interview and a congressman on Veep), Wu has been a wonderful, surprising find. Park can be both straight man and the comic lead, while Wu has become so funny that you laugh before she even says anything. Both are essential nominees.
2. James Corden, John Oliver
The Late Late Show (CBS) and John Oliver Last Week Tonight (HBO)
Late-night TV has had an impressive infusion of creative talent lately, and these two British imports absolutely personify the trend. Corden, 36, in only two months of shows, has been a revelation with his charm and talent, mixing fun interviews with taped bits that often involve music. His engaging demeanor is infectious. Oliver, 38, offers seething and hilarious deep dives into the news that not only are a master class in searing satire but also the logical evolution of his time with The Daily Show. Both are a joy to watch for different reasons — a little sugar and spice in late night.
3. Taraji P. Henson
You might look at a veteran actress like Henson, 44, who waltzes into a massive network hit and steals every scene she’s in, and think that she’s assured a nomination. But this is the Emmys, people, and not even a badass like Cookie can manipulate it to her will. Voters need look no further than, well, every time Henson is onscreen and opens her mouth. She acts the hell out of every scene, and the spotlight follows her as she departs.
4. Elvis Nolasco
American Crime (ABC)
There’s a dichotomy to large ensemble casts, where numerous actors need to make the most out of their limited time in front of the camera. But when one of them does, it’s almost always a testament to an impressive toolbox of talents. Nolasco, 46, who plays addict Carter Nix, was capable of conveying so much with a look that anytime his character did speak — about drugs, about the love of his life in fellow addict Aubry, about seeking redemption — it was moving and powerful. Though not among the bigger cast names in American Crime, Nolasco was memorable in every frame he was in.
5. Jaime Camil
Jane the Virgin (The CW)
Here’s a show that easily was the biggest surprise of the TV season — an unexpected gem that never flagged in being both funny and dramatic. And while Rodriguez garners well-deserved attention, a great reason why Jane manages to spoof telenovelas as it documents one in a show-within-a-show format is engaging Mexican actor Camil, 41. He effortlessly makes his character Rogelio de la Vega both vainly funny and sweetly sincere. Camil essentially is the living embodiment of the show and, given that he’s also a famous real-life telenovela star, he’s mind-numbingly meta. Mostly, however, he’s just a joy to watch — a character and man full of life.
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