Arts·My Favourite Season

15 people who could follow Viola Davis and be the next EGOT

From Cher and H.E.R. to Billy Porter and Trent Reznor, these stars are just one award away from completing the "grand slam of show business."

From Cher and H.E.R. to Billy Porter and Trent Reznor, these stars are just one award away

Viola Davis
Viola Davis speaks onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

My Favourite Season is a monthly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that runs through the "season" that is both his favourite and Moira Rose's: awards.  

If there's one thing that Schitt's Creek's Moira Rose — the inspiration for this column's title — wants more than anything in the world, it is surely to achieve that most elusive of acronyms: EGOT.

A designation given to people who have won all four of the major American entertainment awards (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony), only 18 people have ever achieved it via competitive awards (plus another 5 if you include honourary awards). Moira Rose is, currently, not among them. (Though she'll be jealous to know several fictional characters have also EGOT-ed, most notably 30 Rock's Tracy Jordan and TÁR's Lydia Tár.)

The most recent real-life addition to this exclusive club is Viola Davis, who became the 6th woman to ever EGOT when she won a Grammy earlier this month for the audiobook of her memoir, Finding Me. The Grammy follows Tony Awards in 2001 (for King Hedley II) and 2010 (for Fences), an Emmy in 2015 (for How To Get Away With Murder) and an Oscar in 2016 (for the adaptation of the play that won her a Tony, Fences).

That makes Davis only the fourth person ever to earn EGOT status with awards that were all for her performances (as opposed to producing, hosting, composing music, etc.), after Helen Hayes and Rita Moreno (both in 1977) and John Gielgud in 1991. (For those curious, no Canadian has ever won an EGOT, but we did an investigation about what our own version of it might be in this article.)

The question now, of course, is who might be the one to follow Ms. Davis?

It used to be extraordinarily rare for someone to join the club; when composer Richard Rogers became the first to do so in 1962, it would take over 15 years until Hayes and Moreno became the 2nd and 3rd. By the end of the 20th century, only 7 people in total had achieved it. But this century, while it's still an incredibly difficult feat, we're averaging nearly 1 new EGOT member every other year. Which suggests we'll have roughly 4 more by the end of this decade. 

At the time of this article's publishing, 109 people are one award away from EGOT, 34 of whom have left us (which doesn't necessarily mean they won't EGOT ... Audrey Hepburn achieved hers posthumously). I combed through them all to offer you the following list of the 15 I consider most likely to succeed.

In alphabetical order, here are the potential EGOTs of the future.

Adele

What she's won: 1 Emmy (for Adele: One Night Only in 2022); 16 Grammys (including one in 2023 for the song "Easy On Me"); 1 Oscar (for "Skyfall" in 2013)

What she needs: A Tony

How she could EGOT: Adele has openly acknowledged needing that Tony after she went EGO in 2022, but admitted she's "not a massive Broadway fan" — except for one specific role: Rose in Gypsy. "At one bit, she was just a bitch in it, which I could nail," Adele told People. The role has notably already netted Tonys for Angela Lansbury (in 1975), Tyne Daly (in 1989) and Patti LuPone (in 2008), and I'm sure Broadway producers would be love to have Adele try and follow in their footsteps (as would we).

It's not likely to happen quite yet, though — Adele is 34, and her three Tony-winning predecessors were 50, 44 and 59, respectively, when they took on the role. So this seems like the kind of journey Adele might take on her hiatus between, say, albums 45 and 52.

Al Pacino

What he's won: 2 Emmys (for Angels in America in 2004 and You Don't Know Jack in 2010); 1 Oscar (for Scent of a Woman in 1993, need we be reminded); 2 Tonys (for Does a Tiger Wear a Necklace in 1969 and The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel in 1977)

What he needs: A Grammy

How he could EGOT: With that iconic voice, who wouldn't want Pacino to follow Viola Davis's lead and record himself an audiobook? Although we'd love if it was his own memoir, it's not necessary: actors Don Cheadle and Cynthia Nixon both recently received their Grammys for recording other people's books. (The same goes for another remarkably voiced actor, Jeremy Irons, who is also a Grammy away from EGOT.)

Audra McDonald

What she's won: 2 Grammys (both for Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in 2008); 1 Emmy (for Sweeney Todd: Live from Lincoln Center in 2015); 6 Tonys (notably becoming the performer with the most competitive wins ever when she won her 6th in 2014 for Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill)

What she needs: An Oscar

How she could EGOT: If you had to wager a bet on who is next up to EGOT, it might be safest to place it on McDonald, who has a juicy supporting role as real-life civil rights activist Ella Baker in George C. Wolfe's Bayard Rustin biopic Rustin, which Netflix is likely to heavily push for Oscar consideration later this year. If it doesn't happen then, it'll surely happen soon enough.

Billy Porter

What he's won: 1 Emmy (for Pose in 2019); 1 Grammy (for the Kinky Boots cast recording in 2013); 2 Tonys (one for performing in Kinky Boots in 2013 and another for producing A Strange Loop in 2022)

What he needs: An Oscar

How he could EGOT: Billy Porter has rightfully noted that "as a Black queer man, having an EGOT cracks open spaces, breaks through glass ceilings and does things for me that without those accolades [he] wouldn't have." At this time, no LGBTQ Black person of any gender has ever achieved EGOT status, which would currently make Porter the first if he were to win at the Oscars (a ceremony he's certainly already unofficially been the winner of).

The unfortunate thing in that regard is that out of the big four awards, the Oscars have historically been the least likely to award LGBTQ performers (only two people who were out at the time of their win have ever won Oscars: Ariana DeBose and John Gielgud, the latter of who was notably also the first male actor to ever EGOT). Porter is one of four openly queer actors on this list, and all of them need Oscars to complete the "grand slam." 

Cher



What she's won: 1 Emmy (for Cher: The Farewell Tour in 2003); 1 Grammy (Cher somehow has only won one Grammy, when "Believe" took home Best Dance Recording in 2000); 1 Oscar (for Moonstuck in 1988)

What she needs: A Tony

How she could EGOT: Like some other mononymous celebrity women who basically have defined entire eras, awards bodies have generally been resistant to Cher. Sure, she has EGO'd, but only after multiple snubs at the Oscars (no nomination for Mask?) and Emmys (The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour never won anything!). The way the Grammys have treated her is a whole other monster. Cher only has a single win from 6 career nominations, with a 38-year gap (from 1972 to 2000!) between any nominations at all.

Perhaps this is all because of ridiculous "she has enough" voter resentment (I would guess this has also likely played a role in the fact that neither Beyoncé or Madonna have Grammys for album or record of the year). Either way, it's remarkable Cher is this close to EGOT, (Beyoncé and Madonna are both disturbingly still just at "G"), so can we please do whatever it takes (turn Burlesque to a Broadway musical!) to get her all the way before it's too late? Though we also know Cher will live forever, so that does buy a little time.

Cynthia Erivo

What she's won: An Emmy, Grammy and Tony, all for her work on the 2015 revival of the musical The Color Purple

What she needs: An Oscar

How she could EGOT: One of a few people on this list who very quickly rocketed to being one award away from EGOT, Erivo rivals the aforementioned Audra McDonald as most likely to succeed. She just needs that Oscar, and she's already received 2 nominations since going EGT (both for 2018's Harriet).

Unfortunately, it won't come for the same source material that won her all three of those other awards. Producers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg are indeed adapting The Color Purple into a musical film to be released later this year, but Fantasia has been cast in Erivo's role as Celie (a role that also nearly won Whoopi Goldberg and Oscar in 1986).

However, Erivo is starring in another musical film adaptation that's arguably even more anticipated: Wicked, which will be released in two parts in 2024 and 2025. The role of Elphaba won Idina Menzel a Tony, so perhaps it will make Erivo the first person to EGOT by playing a witch. She'd also become the first openly queer woman to EGOT — that is, if she beats a different Cynthia to the punch ...

Cynthia Nixon

What she's won: 2 Emmys (for Sex and the City in 2004 and also for a guest appearance on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2008); 1 Grammy (for voicing the audiobook of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth in 2009); 2 Tonys (for Rabbit Hole in 2006 and The Little Foxes in 2017)

What she needs: An Oscar

How she could EGOT: Like Erivo, this Cynthia just needs an Oscar. But unlike Erivo, there aren't any prospects for winning one on the horizon for Nixon. She's instead committed herself to not one but two HBO series, The Gilded Age and Sex and the City continuation And Just Like That..., neither of which are even going to add to her Emmy count (I'm sorry but while I will watch eagerly every episode of both, neither series is worthy of Nixon's talents).

But whenever she finds enough time to make a movie, Nixon should aim for roles as a great as her own in 2015's James White and 2016's A Quiet Passion (where she played Emily Dickinson, no less), both of which were absolutely worth of the actress's talents (and won her several critics' awards, but sadly no love from Oscar).

Elton John

What he's won: 5 Grammys (lost 11 times before winning his first in 1987 for "That's What Friends Are For"); 2 Oscars (for songs from The Lion King and Rocketman in 1994 and 2019, repsectively); 1 Tony (for Aida in 2000)

What he needs: An Emmy

How he could EGOT: He's the only person on this list who just needs an Emmy, which, I'm sorry, is by far the easiest one to win (especially when you're counting Daytime Emmys). And yet, Sir Elton has never even been nominated!  That could easily change with, frankly, minimal effort. All he has to do is write a song for the next season of The Crown (you know, maybe for the episode involving that funeral where he performed a song he won a Grammy for?) and the EGOT is surely his.

Frances McDormand

What she's won: 2 Emmys (for producing and acting in Olive Kitteridge in 2015); 4 Oscars (including 3 for best actress); 1 Tony (for Good People in 2011)

What she needs: A Grammy

How she could EGOT: Something tells me no one on this list gives less of a shit about achieving EGOT than Frances McDormand. But there are also few people on this list I am more certain will achieve it.

The actress and producer's nonchalant attitude toward winning awards hasn't stopped McDormand from accumulating 4 Oscars (3 in the last 6 years, with another nomination this year for producing Women Talking). All she needs now is a Grammy, and we'd honestly listen to McDormand read us pretty much anything, so surely an audiobook is in her future.

H.E.R.

What she's won: 1 Emmy (for We The People in 2022); 5 Grammys (including Song of the Year for "I Can't Breathe") in 2021); 1 Oscar (for "Fight For You" in 2021)

What she needs: A Tony

How she could EGOT: Just 25 years old, Gabriella Sarmiento Wilson (aka H.E.R., which is an acronym for "Having Everything Revealed") has made an absolutely stunning play for EGOT in record time. She's just a Tony away after having collected her EGO in only a couple years (which includes 5 Grammys from a whopping 23 nominations, including 3 for Album of the Year).

Now, she just needs to make H.E.R. way to Broadway to become H.E.R.E.G.O.T. And it seems she has the chops, having been cast in the aforementioned Spielberg/Winfrey-produced musical movie adaptation of The Color Purple in her film acting debut. If she pulls that off, Broadway will come calling soon enough.

Hildur Guðnadóttir

What she's won: 1 Emmy (for Chernobyl in 2019); 2 Grammys (for both Chernoybl and Joker); 1 Oscar (for Joker in 2020)

What she needs: A Tony

How she could EGOT: Icelandic composer Guðnadóttir has had an extraordinary run in the past half decade or so, becoming internationally known for her work on TV shows like Chernoybl and films like Arrival, Joker and, just this past year, Women Talking and Tár. It's resulted in a brisk stroll to EGO not dissimilar to H.E.R., making Guðnadóttir the first Icelander to be one award way from "the grand slam." (Disturbingly, Björk has not even won one of the big four, losing her 16th straight Grammy earlier this month)

Guðnadóttir's gold ticket is the Tony, which seems like a pretty reasonable goal for a prolific composer. Honestly, why not team up with Todd Field and Cate Blanchett and turn Tár into a musical? "Apartment For Sale" is already sitting right there!

Hugh Jackman

What he's won: An Emmy (won in 2005 for hosting the 2004 Tonys); 1 Grammy (for The Greatest Showman soundtrack in 2019); 1 Tony (from The Boy from Oz in 2004)

What he need: An Oscar

How he could EGOT: Many thought Jackman was primed to complete the quartet this year for his performance in Florian Zeller's Oscar-baity The Son. But that movie unfortunately turned out to be extremely bad.

So one of our greatest showmen will have to wait a little longer, though it's hard to imagine the right role not coming up sooner or later. That will make Jackman the first person to complete an EGOT by winning one of his awards for hosting one of the other awards. (Notably, he has a total of four Emmy nominations for hosting both the Tonys and the Oscars, the latter of which I consider the best performance by an Oscar host in the past 20 years.)

Lily Tomlin

What she's won: 7 Emmys (starting with 2 in 1974 for her variety special Lily); 1 Grammy (in 1972 for her comedy album This is a Recording); 2 Tonys (including best actress in a play for her iconic The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe)

What she needs: An Oscar

How she could EGOT: By far the person on this list who has been one award away for the longest time (since before Adele or H.E.R. were even born!), Tomlin just needs that pesky Oscar to go all the way. She's been nominated only once nearly 50 years ago (for 1975's Nashville), but her mostly comic film work since has not been recognized (she should have won for 1985's All of Me, as far as I'm concerned).

Lately, her movie choices mostly seemed based on having fun with her friends, and all the power to the 83-year-old for that. But unfortunately, as fun as it is, it's unlikely that fare like 80 For Brady is going to get Tomlin that Oscar (her co-stars in that film Jane Fonda, Sally Field and EGOT achiever Rita Moreno need not worry about that, since they collectively have 5 Oscars). So can someone please write Tomlin and her friends something a little more weighty than Brady so that all these ladies can have their little gold man, finally ushering Tomlin into the EGOT club after a 38-year wait?

Lin-Manuel Miranda

What he's won: 2 Emmys (one for the filmed version of Hamilton in 2021, the other for writing the song "Bigger!" for the Tony Awards telecast in 2014); 5 Grammys (including 2 earlier this month for his work on the film Encanto); 3 Tonys (including 2 for Hamilton)

What he needs: An Oscar

How he could EGOT: I take back what I said about Audra McDonald and Cynthia Erivo: if you want the absolute safest bet on this list for who is next in line for EGOT, it's Lin-Manuel Miranda.

He's come very close twice for his songs from Moana ("How Far I'll Go" in 2017) and Encanto ("Dos Oruguitas" in 2022) and we all know that if Disney hadn't made the mistake of not submitting Encanto's mega-hit "We Don't Talk About Bruno," Miranda would already have his EGOT complete (it was submitted at the Grammys, where it won the equivalent prize).

But Miranda is remarkably only 43 years old, and it's maybe a little nice to have a man who's already this decorated (I mean, he has a Pulitzer Prize, a Kennedy Center Honor and multiple Laurence Olivier Awards) wait just a little bit longer to get the final piece. That may very well come a year from now, when his original songs for the new live-action The Little Mermaid are eligible.

Trent Reznor

What he's won: 1 Emmy (for the music from Watchmen in 2020); 4 Grammys (2 with Nine Inch Nails and 2 for his work on film scores); 2 Oscars (for The Social Network in 2010 and Soul in 2020)

What he needs: A Tony

How he could EGOT: If you had told 15-year-old me as I slept outside my local Sam The Record Man to get my hands on Nine Inch Nails's The Fragile the second it was released that the two essential halves of my teenage identity (closeted gay Oscar nerd and angsty Nine Inch Nails superfan) would one day collide when my Trent Reznor would win multiple Oscars for creating some the best scores of 21st-century cinema (alongside Atticus Ross, who also has an Emmy, Grammy and Oscar for that work), I would have lost my little mind.

But here we are in 2023, with Reznor a Tony Award away from EGOT. And I might have just the idea to get him there: as a teenager, I had this fantasy that I was very vocal about that Reznor should adapt the music from the Nine Inch Nails album Pretty Hate Machine into an industrial rock musical about ... the dark sexual awakening of a young queer man. (I fully wrote a script for it). So I'm just saying, Trent, if you're looking for your ticket to EGOT ... I'm here to help.

Though there is no one nominated who could is one Oscar away from EGOT, you can still check out our latest predictions for the winners of the 2023 Academy Awards here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Knegt (he/him) is a writer, producer and host for CBC Arts. He writes the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and hosts and produces the talk series Here & Queer. He's also spearheaded the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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