Daytime Emmys: 6 Actresses With the Most Wins for Outstanding Lead Actress

The Daytime Emmys are back and ready to crown the 2022 winners for shows that have kept us entertained over the past year. The Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series has been given out since the ceremony’s origin in 1974.

In 2022, five women are vying for that honor. Cynthia Watros and Laura Wright are both representing General Hospital. (And they’re our picks this year for the top two contenders.) Marci Miller and Arianne Zucker hail from Days of Our Lives. And Mishael Morgan is nominated for her work on The Young and the Restless.

But who has won the most Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress? Here’s a roundup of the top six winners over the past five decades.

Jacqueline MacInnes Wood holding her award for Outstanding Lead Actress at the 2021 Daytime Emmys
2021 Daytime Emmy Outstanding Lead Actress winner Jacqueline MacInnes Wood | Nina Prommer/Daytime Emmy Awards 2021 via Getty Images

Helen Gallagher, 3 wins 

Helen Gallagher is tied with two other women for winning an Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy three times over the course of her career. The Ryan’s Hope lead first won in 1976 for her portrayal of Maeve Ryan, per IMDb.

The actor received five nominations over the course of her career and won another two times. She took home the award again in 1977 and beat out fierce competitors, including Erika Slezak and Susan Lucci, a decade later in 1988. 

Heather Tom, 3 wins 

The Bold and the Beautiful’s Heather Tom is a more contemporary actor than Gallagher and has played the role of Katie Logan since 2007. She has a stunning 19 Daytime Emmy nominations, according to IMDb. Some are in the Younger Actress category, and others are for Supporting Actress. 

Tom has six Daytime Emmy wins to her name. She’s won three times in the Lead Actress in a Drama category — in 2012, 2013, and 2020. 

Maura West, 3 wins 

Maura West began as a soaps actor on As the World Turns from 1995 until 2010. But she is more recently known for her work portraying Ava Jerome-Cassadine on General Hospital. She has been Tom’s competition in more than one Daytime Emmys contest in recent years and has been nominated for 13 Daytime Emmy awards over the course of her career. 

She secured the win three times in the Outstanding Lead Actress category — in 2007, 2010, and 2015, per IMDb

Kim Zimmer, 4 wins 

Although Kim Zimmer has played multiple characters on soap operas over the course of her career, she’s best known for her portrayal of Reva Shayne on the now-canceled Guiding Light. Zimmer played Shayne on and off from 1983 until 2009. And she won four Daytime Emmys in the Outstanding Lead Actress category during that time — in 1985, 1987, 1990, and 2006 — according to IMDb.

Following the cancellation of the famed CBS soap opera, she briefly reprised her role as Echo DiSavoy on One Life to Live before pursuing other ventures in theater work

Susan Flannery, 4 wins 

Unlike other actors on our list so far, Susan Flannery has won in the Outstanding Lead Actress category for multiple roles. She first won in 1975 while portraying Laura Horton on Days of Our Lives. Then, she wasn’t nominated again until the early 2000s for her work as matriarch Stephanie Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful

Flannery has 10 Daytime Emmys in the Lead Actress category nominations and won in 1975, 2000, 2002, and 2003, per IMDb. Following her character’s death on The Bold and the Beautiful, she’s moved on to other projects, including directing

Erika Slezak, 6 wins 

When it comes to Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, no one dominates the field quite like Erika Slezak. She played Victoria Lord on the now-defunct One Life to Live. And she racked up nine nominations and six wins (in 1984, 1986, 1992, 1995, 1996, and 2005) in the Lead Actress category, per IMDb.

With her last win, she secured the honor of having the most Daytime Emmys for playing a single character. But she’s done other projects as well. In 2020, she starred as a talent agent in Guest Artist with Jeff Daniels.

See who takes home this year’s Outstanding Lead Actress award by watching the 2022 Daytime Emmys on June 24 at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central on CBS or streaming on Paramount+.

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