When Will A Black Woman Win in the Lead Actress Category at the Daytime Emmys?

Vinessa Antoine, Karla Mosley, Reign Edwards, Sal Stowers, Mishael Morgan and Brytni Sarpy.
Viola Davis made history on Sunday, becoming the first African-American actress to take home a Primetime Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a drama series for her role on How to Get Away with Murder. It took 67 years. When it comes to afternoon programming, we're still waiting.

Below is the list of the lead actress winners over the past 42 years at the Daytime Emmys. Sadly, there haven't been that many women of color even nominated, and none that won. All My Children's brilliant Debbi Morgan was nominated three times for her portrayal of Dr. Angie Hubbard. She won in the supporting actress category in 1989, tied with Santa Barbara's Nancy Lee Grahn. Grahn faced a social media backlash last night and today after insensitive comments during Davis' historic Emmys win.

Christel Khalil, Anna Maria Horsbord, Sonya Eddy and Aloma Wright.
The actress with the best show to break through in daytime at the 2016 Daytime Emmys is probably Karla Mosley, who has given one outstanding performance after another this year as Maya Avant on The Bold and the Beautiful.

Daytime Emmys Lead Actress Winners
1974 Elizabeth Hubbard, The Doctors
1975 Susan Flannery, Days of our Lives
1976 Helen Gallagher, Ryan's Hope
1977 Helen Gallagher, Ryan's Hope
1978 Laurie Heineman, Another World
1979 Irene Dailey, Another World
1980 Judith Light, One Life to Live
1981 Judith Light, One Life to Live
1982 Robin Strasser, One Life to Live
1983 Dorothy Lyman, All My Children
1984 Erika Slezak, One Life to Live
1985 Kim Zimmer, Guiding Light
1986 Erika Slezak, One Life to Live
1987 Kim Zimmer, Guiding Light
1988 Helen Gallagher, Ryan's Hope
1989 Marcy Walker, Santa Barbara
1990 Kim Zimmer, Guiding Light
1991 Finola Hughes, General Hospital
1992 Erika Slezak, One Life to Live
1993 Linda Dano, Another World
1994 Hillary B. Smith, One Life to Live
1995 Erika Slezak, One Life to Live
1996 Erika Slezak, One Life to Live
1997 Jess Walton, The Young and the Restless
1998 Cynthia Watros, Guiding Light
1999 Susan Lucci, All My Children
2000 Susan Flannery, The Bold and the Beautiful
2001 Martha Byrne, As the World Turns
2002 Susan Flannery, The Bold and the Beautiful
2003 Susan Flannery, The Bold and the Beautiful
2004 Michelle Stafford, The Young and the Restless
2005 Erika Slezak, One Life to Live
2006 Kim Zimmer, Guiding Light
2007 Maura West, As the World Turns
2008 Jeanne Cooper, The Young and the Restless
2009 Susan Haskell, One Life to Live
2010 Maura West, As the World Turns
2011 Laura Wright, General Hospital
2012 Heather Tom, The Bold and the Beautiful
2013 Heather Tom, The Bold and the Beautiful
2014 Eileen Davidson, Days of our Lives
2015 Maura West, General Hospital

Viola Davis gave a moving acceptance speech that captured her historic win well:

"'In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me, over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.'

"That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity.

"You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black.

"And to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union: Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy. Thank you."


  1. Michelle Stafford won for The Young & the Restless, not for General Hospital.

  2. I found the speech to be very moving. Why did NLG sound so bitter though?

    As for the question of when will a Black actress win a Daytime Emmy in the Lead category, I honestly don't know. There have been some great Black actresses throughout the years but I can only think of a handful that have had leading caliber storylines. Most seem to have been in the Supporting Category.
    Of the daytime dramas that are left now how many can be put in the Lead category? Y&R and B&B seem to have 1 each but what about Days and GH?

    The irony of Debbi Morgan is that she might have had a great chance had she submitted the year her performance in the Prospect Park produced AMC was eligible. I thought she did some dazzling work on the web version.

    1. There's so much more than goes into the Daytime Emmys. While there's probably politics involved with most things like this, they seems especially prominent in Daytime. You not only need a story but you have to be willing to play the backstage "games" it takes to get your own cast in your corner. Karla has had the story this year, and Anna Maria Horsford in either the Supporting or Guest Actor category.

    2. It will be Karla Mosely because of her portrayal as a transgender woman. It's political. This is Bell's big project so she'll win

  3. Thank you WLS. Like other awards, the same few are often honored over and over. Debbi Morgan and Victoria Rowell each had years where they should have not only been nominated for their work but won Lead Actress Emmys. Renee Elise Goldsberry and Tamara Tunie should have been honored as Supporting Actresses for their work. This year, Karla Mosley has been incomparable and in a just system she would win the Emmy for Lead Actress. Obba Babatunde and Anna Maria Horsford should be hands-down Guest Performer Emmy Winners.

    1. Victoria Rowell was definitely robbed a couple of times. Tamara Tunie was a lead in 2002 or so and really had the material to back up a nomination. It usually comes down to who's friends with who in daytime and being part of the "in" crown, in addition to actually having good material written for you. As you said, Karla has a leg up this year IF the system actually made sense.

  4. The list is not only white, it's mostly blonde. The Avants have been a revelation this year and are deserving of Emmys in 2016.

  5. Isn't Christel Khalil half-Black? I know she does not really identify with her mother's people.