play first fiddle

play first fiddle

To have a leading, commanding, or controlling role, position, or part (in something). (A less common extension of the phrase "play second fiddle," meaning to serve in a subordinate role or position.) Ever since the power shift in Congress, Senator Smith has been playing first fiddle in the agenda for tax reforms. Though she's had many small parts in a variety of films, this is the first movie that sees Ms. Warren playing first fiddle.
See also: fiddle, first, play
References in periodicals archive ?
NNA - Russia has confirmed it will not attend the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, a gathering championed by President Barack Obama, accusing Washington of seeking to play first fiddle on matters of nuclear safety.
And while this floral-scented charmer may deservedly continue to play first fiddle in these Andean vineyards, Bonarda is snapping at its heels.