Cicely Tyson (‘How to Get Away With Murder’) would be oldest to win Emmy for Best Drama Guest Actress


This season, Cicely Tyson reprised her role as Annalise Keating’s (Viola Davis) mother, Ophelia Harkness, on Season 4 of ABC’s “How to Get Away With Murder’s.” She was previously nominated at the Emmys for playing this fan-favorite character in 2015 and 2017, but lost to Margo Martindale (“The Americans”) and Alexis Bledel (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), respectively. Can Tyson, 93, finally triumph on her third bid for “HTGAWM” and become the oldest actress to win in the Best Drama Guest Actress category, surpassing the current record-holder Beulah Bondi for “The Waltons” (1977)?

Tyson isn’t a new name to Emmy voters. In fact, she’s now been nominated a whopping 14 times and has taken home a total of three statuettes: two for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” in 1974 (Best Movie/Mini Actress and Actress of the Year) and one for “Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” in 1994 (Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress). Voters love to award the hard-working veteran in this category, which is why for example Martindale may have prevailed twice for “The Americans,” her second time being in 2016.

At the age of 93, Tyson is still doing beautiful work on-screen, and voters may want to embrace her for that reason alone. She’s a living legend who has been in the industry for over 60 years and next to being a multiple Emmy winner is also a Tony winner and Academy Award nominee. Perhaps, voters feel like it’s time to award her again as it’s now been 24 years since her last Emmy victory and they may feel like she’s overdue for this role.

Of note, Tyson is now the only actor from “HTGAWM” who is being recognized by the Television Academy as they snubbed Davis for the first time in Best Drama Actress. Maybe this demonstrates significant support for her? For whatever it’s worth, Tyson submitted the season premiere of “HTGAWM”, titled “I’m Going Away,” in which she gets to show off a range of emotion, making her a deserving contender. She not only has a significant amount of screen time, but also receives what may be her best material on the show to date.

At first reluctant to visit a nursing home as proposed by her daughter, an episode of dementia persuades her character to follow her daughter’s advice after all. After Annalise finally leaves the choice up to her mother as to how to proceed, in a final heartfelt conversation, Ophelia promises Annalise that she’ll hold on to herself for as long as possible. Playing a person suffering from dementia isn’t an easy task, but Tyson does an exceptional job. Even if voters haven’t seen a single episode of “HTGAWM” prior to Tyson’s submission, they will be able to follow her character’s storyline without any problems.

However, could her show be the one thing standing in her way? Emmy voters have not recognized “HTGAWM” outside of Davis and Tyson, and even snubbed the former in lead actress this year. Tyson finds herself competing against Davis (“Scandal”), Kelly Jenrette (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Cherry Jones (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), Diana Rigg (“Game of Thrones”) and Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”). Thus, she is facing two contenders for Best Drama Series and her on-screen daughter, whom she could split votes with.

While Tyson’s trying to set the record for the oldest winner in this category, Wiley is looking to set a record of her own, being the youngest to win in this category since it underwent changes in 1989, taking that title away from defending champ Bledel. Perhaps honoring the veteran is now a story of the past and awarding fresh new faces is the new trend in this category. Or voters might just give it to Rigg since it would be the last and only chance to still award her for “Game of Thrones.” Gold Derby’s predictions currently have Tyson in fourth place with odds of 50/1. Do you think she can win?

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