Viola Davis or Taraji P. Henson could make Emmy history in September, if one of them takes home the trophy.
Davis and Henson are both nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series at this year's Emmys. Davis is nominated for her ABC show How to Get Away with Murder while Henson is nominated for her Fox show Empire. This marks the first time in history two black actresses have been nominated in the same year for this category.
And interestingly enough, Davis and Henson are considered frontrunners to potentially win the Emmy. They are the top two contenders as far as Gold Derby odds, with Davis currently topping Henson.
If either Davis or Henson were to win the Emmy, they would be the first black actress to win this category in Emmy's 67-year history.
But they have tough competition. Their fellow nominees include Claire Danes of Showtime's Homeland, Tatiana Maslany of BBC America's Orphan Black, Elisabeth Moss of AMC's Mad Men and Robin Wright of Netflix's House of Cards. Each of these women are formidable actresses on their shows, just like Davis and Henson.
Davis has the kind of performance that has won countless Emmys in the past. She plays Annalise Keating, a tough-as-nails lawyer who fights passionately for her cases, even if it means getting her hands dirty. One can simply look to James Spader's multiple wins for The Practice and Boston Legal to see how voters respond to lawyers with passion.
Henson will probably have a tougher time winning, despite being one of the most dynamic characters of the television season. Her Cookie Lyon is also tough as nails, but her performance is very theatrical and campy. It is easy to imagine some voters being turned off by the show's over-the-top style. After all, voters have not taken kindly to soap opera-style shows in the past, especially in this category.
However, Henson's Cookie is a huge fan favorite character, and she will surely eat up her fair share of votes.
It remains to be seen which performance voters will choose as best, though they have a real opportunity to make history this year.
The Primetime Emmys will be held Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.