What It Takes To Win An Emmy Nomination, From 5 People Who Have One (Or More)

With endless hours of TV shows out there, the Emmys can be a useful way of vetting what's worth watching.

But with over 100 people nominated in 27 categories for tonight's 70th Emmy Awards, how can you really tell which shows are the best of the best? And, more importantly, how do you win your office Emmys ballot?

In an attempt to help you cut through the clutter (and help you pick winners), we talked to five creatives nominated for their work from this past year about why they think they got nominated:

Sarah Paulson

NOMINEE: Sarah Paulson

SHOW: "American Horror Story: Cult" (FX)

CATEGORY: Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

ADVICE: "I use my whole self. I'm not interested in putting who I am to the side in order to play something. In order to do that particularly here, I had to call forward a lot of things I think I spent a lot of time trying to push to the side. Instead, I was having to sit in the middle of all the muck of the things that I contend with as a human being: my own fear, my own ignorance. ... I couldn't move to the left or the right of it in order to do the job....I really like to be directed. I really like notes. And I don't mean notes just for notes sake or that I like to be toyed with. I always have questions, and I'll tell you if I don't agree, or if something feels slightly off."

NOMINEE: Chloe Arnold

SHOW: "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (CBS)

CATEGORY: Outstanding Choreography

ADVICE: "Teamwork makes the dream work. If one person is off it throws off the whole puzzle, because this is really a puzzle. I think one of the hardest things is once James steps in, you want to laugh at everything. What makes what we're doing funny is that we take it so seriously. What I always tell the dancers is 'you approach the crosswalk like this is Broadway, like this is the best thing you've ever done in your life.' And that's what makes it so funny."

Carrie Brownstein

NOMINEE: Carrie Brownstein

SHOW: "Portlandia" (IFC)

CATEGORY: Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series

ADVICE: "I always wanted to make things that were more pointed or trenchant and satirical and Fred [Armisen], I think, was more interested in things that were absurd. And somewhere in the middle we found 'Portlandia'... I think we just believed in each other enough, and believed in the structure of what we'd created enough to know that this could be a surprise, but it would probably be better than what we had in mind. You have to believe that arriving at a place you didn't think you'd arrive is actually better than you predicted. And if you all have faith in that process, there is something unknown about it. ... Then you can go forward and have it not feel like a compromise."

Jeff Daniels in "The Looming Tower"

NOMINEE: Jeff Daniels

SHOWS: "The Looming Tower" (Hulu) and "Godless" (Netflix)

CATEGORY: Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie; Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie (respectively)

ADVICE: "You don't have to know why you're doing what you're doing. Your shrink's appointment is next Thursday."

Brian Tyree Henry

NOMINEE: Brian Tyree Henry

SHOW: "Atlanta" (FX)

CATEGORY: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy

ADVICE: "Here's the sweet spot about how Atlanta works for me: the less I know the better. I'm not trying to go into the project selling dope, I'm not trying to shoot a gun, I'm not trying to spit bars in a studio or anything like that. I just wanted the essence of who he was to be there. "

You can watch the Emmys tonight at 5 p.m. on NBC.

Editor's note: To commemorate this year's ceremony, KPCC put together its first every Emmy Special, co-hosted by The Frame's John Horn and L.A. Times television critic Lorraine Ali. Listen to it here.


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