Let Latinos Lead: Selena Gomez, Pedro Pascal and More Could Make Emmy History

The nominations for the Emmys are still weeks away. But there’s growing excitement in the Latino community as multiple lead actors continue to look well-positioned to receive deserved recognition.

Two of the top contenders in the lead drama actor race — Pedro Pascal as the hardened survivor Joel from HBO’s apocalyptic video game adaptation “The Last of Us” and Diego Luna as the rebel hero Cassian in the “Star Wars” prequel series “Andor” from Disney+ — are Latino and star in buzzy sci-fi and fantasy series.

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Only one Latino actor has been recognized in the lead drama actor category in the past: From 1995-1999, Jimmy Smits received five consecutive noms for his role as Det. Bobby Simone on ABC’s “NYPD Blue.” Coincidentally, Pascal appeared as a guest on a 2001 episode.

Jumping seamlessly between film and television, the Chilean actor has become a household name thanks to TV stints on “Game of Thrones” and “Narcos” and movies such as “Wonder Woman 1984” (2021) and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (2022). He only added to his fame when he took on the man under the helmet in another “Star Wars” spin-off series, “The Mandalorian. ” In February, he did a stellar job as host of “Saturday Night Live.” It’s impossible to ignore the obvious tagline for this Emmy FYC season: “Vote for Pedro.”

Luna’s return to a beloved character in “Andor” has also been welcomed. The Mexican actor, who made his U.S. breakout performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 film “Y tu mamá también,” has been applauded for his internalized, central, moving performance. The show also received some of the best reviews for any “Star Wars” series, thanks to the guidance of director-producer Tony Gilroy.

In the actress categories, both Selena Gomez, who portrays the dry-witted Mabel in Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building,” and Jenna Ortega, who stars as the deadpan teenager on Netflix’s “Wednesday,” are front-runners.

It could be the first time two Latinas have been recognized in the same acting category and only the third occurrence in any acting category. Only two Latina actresses have ever been nominated in the lead comedy actress category in Emmy history — Rita Moreno (“9 to 5” in 1983) and America Ferrera (“Ugly Betty” in 2007 and 2008). Ferrera is the only winner for her first season.

Gomez, a superstar on the mystery romp, was omitted from the category last year but is even better in the second season. And Ortega’s star has skyrocketed with viral moments and dance crazes from the “Addams Family” spinoff.

While her brutally honest interviews about editing “Wednesday” scripts could put some voters off, there’s no denying she’s the breakout of the year. Her appearance in box office smash “Scream 6” may also make her an easy selection for not-so media plugged-in voters.

The limited acting categories have fewer “slam-dunk” contenders than the comedy and drama races. While Zoe Saldaña delivers a decisive turn in Netflix’s “From Scratch,” she faces a bunch of big names from more notable series. The same goes for Amber Midthunder, the kick-ass indigenous actress from Hulu’s action-packed TV movie “Prey.” For lead actor (limited), all hopes rest on the shoulders of Andy Garcia in the HBO Max remake of “Father of the Bride,” which received decent reviews but has been muted on the circuit.

Emmy Awards Predictions Categories

DRAMA SERIES | COMEDY SERIES | LIMITED OR ANTHOLOGY SERIES | TV MOVIE | LEAD ACTOR (DRAMA) | LEAD ACTOR (COMEDY) | LEAD ACTOR (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | LEAD ACTRESS (DRAMA) | LEAD ACTRESS (COMEDY) | LEAD ACTRESS (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | SUPPORTING ACTOR (DRAMA) | SUPPORTING ACTOR (COMEDY) | SUPPORTING ACTOR (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | SUPPORTING ACTRESS (DRAMA) | SUPPORTING ACTRESS (COMEDY) | SUPPORTING ACTRESS (LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | TALK SERIES | SCRIPTED VARIETY | GAME SHOW | DIRECTING (DRAMA, COMEDY, LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | WRITING (DRAMA, COMEDY, LIMITED/TV MOVIE) | REALITY (COMPETITION, STRUCTURED, UNSTRUCTURED, HOST)

Creative Arts and Other Emmy Categories

GUEST ACTOR (DRAMA) | GUEST ACTRESS (DRAMA) | GUEST ACTOR (COMEDY) | GUEST ACTRESS (COMEDY) | VOICE-OVER | SHORT FORM | DOCUMENTARY | MUSIC | ANIMATED |

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