As a part of our continued coverage of the upcoming Emmys, we’re giving you a roundup of some of this year’s first-time nominees who’ve earned the career milestone marker for their work in front of the camera. Keep reading for our picks from the group of actors who heard for the first time ever their names called out when nominations were announced on July 13. It was hard to choose from the talented array of first-timers, so we’re also providing the reasons why we think our selected bunch especially deserved the recognition.
Nick Mohammed for Ted Lasso
Mohammed received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his performance as Nate, AFC Richmond’s kit man and eventual assistant coach, in season one of the Jason Sudeikis-starring hit Apple TV+ series. He pulled off the impressive acting feat of portraying a character who is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the sport most of the world calls “football” without even liking or knowing much about soccer. “I couldn’t give any amount of care for the sport whatsoever,” he laughingly told Entertainment Weekly. “I had to research so much to pretend that I care in Ted Lasso!” And besides the display of pure acting that convinced us Nate had a deep respect for both the pitch and the game played on it, the actor also connected us as viewers to the essence of the show. Ted (Sudeikis) may be the heartbeat of the series, but Mohammed’s Nate personified the underdog quality of the team which we’re all rooting for. Plus, the strong performer, whose stacked resume includes recently creating and starring with David Schwimmer in the Peacock series Intelligence, seems to have flown under the radar before Ted Lasso. We think it’s high time the British thespian received some recognition for his work.
Renée Elise Goldsberry for Hamilton
We’re not picking Goldsberry for this list because she was, in a gross oversight, snubbed for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her well-crafted and delightfully entertaining performance as Wickie Roy in the Peacock series Girls5eva. We’re also not choosing her out of excitement that an Emmy win would put her one step closer to becoming an EGOT — she already won a Grammy and a Tony for her work in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, along with her fellow first-time Emmy nominees and co-stars Leslie Odom Jr. and Daveed Diggs. The reason Goldsberry made this list is because her work as Angelica shines from the stage and through a screen via the Disney+ filmed version of the musical starring the original Broadway cast. She makes us feel all the feels while we are watching her perform theater through a TV screen, which speaks to the fact that the thespian is a true showstopper in Hamilton as the eldest Schuyler sister. And we would not have been *satisfied* had she not been recognized with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie.
Daniel Kaluuya for Saturday Night Live
Kaluuya’s nod for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series is noteworthy because the actor has historically been known for leading drama features. He took home Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Black Panthers chairman Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah at this year’s Oscars and starred opposite Jodie Turner-Smith in Lena Waithe’s Queen & Slim. Plus, let’s not forget his breakout performance in Jordan Peele’s acclaimed directorial debut Get Out. But in episode 16 of SNL’s 46th season, Kaluuya proved he also has some serious comedy chops, transforming between a variety of characters and delivering dialed-in and highly entertaining performances with each. The “Will You Take It?” skit especially stands out, though. In it, Kaluuya’s character is a doctor who hosts a game show whose contestants are family members who don’t want to get vaccinated. The Oscar winner is the glue that holds the skit together and keeps it grounded while managing to find the humor in a very current and divisive issue. SNL sketches frequently address hot-button news topics with a varying degree of success, and Kaluuya’s ability to deliver one on vaccinations is definitely a win. Along with his other strong work during the episode, it certainly warrants a first Emmy nomination for the actor.
Elizabeth Olsen for WandaVision
Olsen’s Wanda is at the center of the innovative and genre-bending WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ first foray into series television. The actor’s technical work is on point, as she transitions with each episode from era to era of classic sitcoms, starting in the ’50s. From hitting notes of The Dick Van Dyke Show to The Brady Bunch to Modern Family, Olsen’s performances in each episode match the acting style of the decade portrayed while remaining grounded and connected to the overarching story. The Disney+ series offers actors the added perk of a free master class in period piece acting thanks to Olsen, who’s joined in the first-time nominee club by her co-lead Paul Bettany.
You’ll have to wait until this year’s award show takes place to find out if Mohammed, Goldsberry, Kaluuya and Olsen also become first-time Emmy winners. And these were just our picks from a stacked list of actors experiencing their inaugural placement on a list of Emmy nominees. You can find an extensive list of first-timers here.