Sterling K. Brown expected to win Best Actor Emmy for Randall Pearson

THIS IS US -- "Memphis" Episode 116 -- Pictured: (l-r) Ron Cephas Jones as William, Sterling K. Brown as Randall -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)
THIS IS US -- "Memphis" Episode 116 -- Pictured: (l-r) Ron Cephas Jones as William, Sterling K. Brown as Randall -- (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC) /

Emmy experts predict that Sterling K. Brown, who plays Randall on This Is Us, will win the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama.

Those in the know, critics and industry insiders, mainly, are predicting a big year for This Is Us at the Emmys. Both as far as nominations — we’ve heard just about the entire core cast mentioned — and wins. Even the show itself could break NBC’s long Best Drama drought. But perhaps most exciting is the pick of Sterling K. Brown for Best Actor in a Drama.

While experts are picking Chrissy Metz to be nominated and win Best Supporting Actress, Sterling K. Brown is getting the nod for Best (Lead) Actor. So why the categorical difference?

The Emmys leave it up to the actors, shows and studios to decide how they want to nominate performances. Per the official rule book:

"It is the decision of the entrant whether to enter as a lead, supporting or guest performer. However, only performers appearing in less than 50 percent of the eligible episodes are able to submit in the Guest Performer categories."

Contenders will then weigh a few things, such as screen time, critical reception and competition. In some cases, an actor or actress may submit for a supporting award to not compete with a co-star who had a larger or stronger role. Some performances are clear cut, but when a performance could go either way — either phenomenal but with fewer minutes or consistently great but no water cooler moments — the powers that be may direct submissions accordingly.

Both the Best Actor and Best Actress in a Drama categories will be extremely competitive this year, so NBC may have looked to Brown’s and Metz’ screen time and character arcs. While Kate had powerful scenes as we learned more about her guilt regarding Jack’s death and complicated relationship to her weight, the first season spent considerable time — including some of the season’s best episodes, like “The Trip” and “Memphis” — centered on Randall specifically. The first season dealt with his adoption, growing up black in a white family, meeting his biological dad, facing Rebecca’s betrayal, forgiving Rebecca and coming to terms with losing a dad again, while still leaving you feeling like there was more to learn about him.

Based on the season, it’s no surprise Brown was nominated for Best Actor and, given his performance, no surprise he’s predicted to beat out such critical darlings as Kevin Spacey, Rami Malek and Matthew Rhys.