They're injecting Hollywood with a dose of vibrant young talent, bowling over audiences and critics alike, and pushing the industry forward. Here, we spotlight the up-and-comers whose sensational talents and ability to challenge the status quo will make them household names before you know it.
In the few short years since Ariana DeBose entered the Hollywood game, she's collected awards upon accolades and gone from supporting Broadway actor to marquee movie star. She sits atop every casting director's list at the moment—next up, she'll lend her powerhouse voice to Disney's Wish and make for a delicious villain in Sony's Kraven the Hunter—and still remains true to her theater roots, bringing pizazz and a show-stopping quality to every role. Look no further than our cover story for proof. —NP
Canadian actress Sophie Nélisse has been lighting up the film festival circuit and garnering international recognition since her acting debut at age 8, but with her emotionally-gutting run as young Shauna in Yellowjackets, the now-23-year old cemented her status as an acting tour de force. Nélisse’s ability to imbue her character with subtle, horrifying physical and emotional rage anchored Showtime's hit thriller (which pushed the boundaries of the metaphysical this season), turning teenage angst into must-see television. —NP
With an ethereal voice and a can't-be-ignored screen presence, Halle Bailey was the buoy that kept her first major film—a live action remake of The Little Mermaid—soaring rather than sinking. Her once-in-a-generation talent (often synonymous with icons decades her senior) has already caught the eye of bold-faced names like Beyoncé, whom Bailey counts as a mentor, and Rob Marshall, and her dedication to the craft has set her on the path to becoming Hollywood royalty. —NP
Maude Apatow set herself apart from her Euphoria castmates—a cohort of impossibly talented fellow actors—with a uniquely captivating performance as Lexi Howard in season 2. A theater kid at heart, the actress has recently taken her talents to the stage, performing in an off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors and will next be seen as Sally Bowles in the West End's revival of Cabaret. It seems Apatow's only just scratched the surface of her nuanced acting abilities, and with another season of the HBO drama on the horizon, she's the one to keep an eye on. —NP
Keyla Monterroso Mejia is the definition of a scene-stealer. The California native rose to fame through her hilarious guest roles, including aspiring (talentless) actress Maria Sofia Estrada on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and teacher’s aide Ashley Garcia on Abbott Elementary. In her first major leading role in Netflix’s On My Block spinoff Freeridge, the 25-year-old deftly balanced laugh-out-loud physical comedy with a multi-faceted portrayal of grief. After going toe-to-toe with Larry David and Quinta Brunson, Mejia is next set to appear alongside Will Ferrell and Reese Witherspoon in the Amazon wedding comedy You’re Cordially Invited. —QL
Gotham Award–nominated actress Ayo Edebiri took Hollywood by storm last summer with The Bear, displaying outstanding acting chops (pun intended) as eager sous chef Sydney Adamu. Before butting heads with Carmy over operating The Original Beef of Chicagoland, the stand-up comic and TV writer was best known for her work on Big Mouth and Dickinson. Edebiri has since guest-starred in friend Quinta Brunson’s Abbott Elementary and is taking over festival season with the acclaimed films Bottoms and Theater Camp. Next up: entering the MCU via a secret role in the 2024 antihero film Thunderbolts. —QL
It’s hard to believe that Hoyeon's outstanding performance as stoic North Korean defector Sae-byeok in Squid Game was the runway model’s first acting role. She immediately gained a global fan base and later won a Screen Actors Guild award (only the second Korean actress to do so solo). Since the Netflix megahit propelled her to superstardom, the actress has built up an impressive list of future projects. Among them: a supporting role alongside Cate Blanchett in Alfonso Cuarón’s upcoming Apple TV+ series, her feature film debut in the A24’s The Governess, and The Wailing director Na Hong-jin’s highly-anticipated thriller Hope. —QL
New Jersey native Rachel Zegler was a high school student when she booked the breakout gig of a lifetime: beating out 30,000 other hopefuls for the role of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story. Zegler’s lovingly fierce Maria (and her stunning voice) enchanted audiences, and the Golden Globe–winner’s profile is only set to rise with her upcoming roles in Disney’s live-action Snow White and the Hunger Games prequel The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. As she racks up major projects, the 22-year-old keeps up a delightfully candid social media presence, using her platform to call out trolls and advocate for diverse representation in Hollywood.—QL
Reneé Rapp lit the Broadway world on fire in 2019 with her pitch-perfect performance as queen bee Regina George in the stage adaptation of Mean Girls. And with a highly-anticipated debut album, Snow Angel, dropping this August, and a beloved role in HBO's raucous comedy Sex Live of College Girls, Rapp is a bonafide triple threat. But what has paved her way to megawatt stardom is a confidence, rawness, and relatable sense of humor that shines both on social media and on-screen. —NP
Priya Kansara’s breakthrough performance in Nida Manzoor's Polite Society made critics and audiences sit up and take notice when the campy and subversive action flick debuted at Sundance earlier this year. Although she has just a few acting credits to her name, including a minor role in season 2 of Bridgerton (two years ago Kansara had a desk job in health care), the British-born star exudes gleeful charm and a knack for comedic timing that feel like welcome breaths of fresh air—air she could knock right out of you thanks to the extensive martial arts training she underwent for the film. Whatever is next for Kansara is sure to be just as breathtaking. —NP
It’s not easy to portray an immediate fan-favorite character in a franchise as massive as Game of Thrones, but Bella Ramsey (who identifies as nonbinary and goes by they/them pronouns) pulled it off at the young age of 11 as the scene-stealing Lady Lyanna Mormont (their first-ever job). The now-19-year-old actor recently wowed audiences in back-to-back leading roles: first as the headstrong titular heroine of the irreverent period film Catherine Called Birdy, then as hardened survivor Ellie Williams in The Last of Us. Coming of age in the public eye is no easy feat, but Ramsey has done so with aplomb. —QL
Stephanie Hsu's brilliant and boundless turn in Everything Everywhere All at Once earned her an Oscar nod and makes her inclusion on this list a no-brainer, but it’s far from her first standout performance. The 32-year-old's comedy chops have long been on display in supporting roles in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. She's also a sci-fi darling with minor roles in Marvel's Shang Chi and American Born Chinese, proving her acting prowess is genre-defying. With the soon-to-be-released Joy Ride and Randall Park's Shortcomings, Hsu is finally getting the top billing she deserves. —NP
Before she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Dominique Thorne landed roles in If Beale Street Could Talk and Judas and the Black Messiah while still an undergrad studying human development at Cornell University. Now the New York native is best known as RiRi Williams, genius inventor and one of the MCU’s most beloved contemporary characters. Next year, Thorne will return to the role in her own solo Disney+ series Ironheart, through which fans will learn a lot more about both the character and the dynamic actress that gives her life. —QL
Odds are Rachel Sennott is the actress your film-buff friend has been raving about ever since her role in the dark indie gem Shiva Baby. Before her mainstream star started rising, the NYU grad already had internet fame—her tongue-in-cheek hot girl cosplay became an enduring meme that fans could call back to when she went on to appear in the Gen-Z satire Bodies Bodies Bodies. Sennott continues her Hollywood ascendance this year with her HBO debut in The Idol and a pair of indie releases: the heart-wrenching dramedy I Used To Be Funny and raunchy teen comedy Bottoms, which she co-wrote with her friend and Shiva Baby director, Emma Seligman. —QL
Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (a.k.a. Devery Jacobs) is best-known as Elora in in FX’s Reservation Dogs, but the Indigenous actor and filmmaker—born and raised in the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory in Quebec, Canada—has been working for more than 15 years, appearing in American Gods and Rutherford Falls, in addition to writing and directing short films. Later this year, Jacobs makes her MCU debut in the Disney+ series Echo, playing an as-yet-undisclosed role in the story of the titular deaf Native American superhero. —QL
Seven years into BLACKPINK’s reign as the biggest girl group in the world, Jennie Kim is solidifying her place as a global solo star. This summer, she made her acting debut (under the stage name Jennie Ruby Jane) as captivating back-up dancer Dyanne on one of the year’s buzziest shows, The Idol (while concurrently touring and racking up instantly-viral public appearances). Whether in this next installment of her career she hews closer to the fierce persona she presents onstage or the slightly bashful side fans know from her YouTube channel remains to be seen, but all eyes are on her. —QL
Patti Harrison's acerbic, self-deprecating humor has made the rounds in many of the best comedy series of the past decade, including Shrill, Made for Love, Ziwe, and I Think You Should Leave. But the stand-up comedian, actress, and TV writer's no one-trick pony: Harrison held her own alongside Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in action rom-com The Lost City, collected accolades for the grounded indie dramedy Together, Together, and broke barriers as the first transgender actor to voice a Disney animated character in Raya and the Last Dragon. —QL
Margaret Qualley has spent the past decade building an impressive list of acting credits, rising from note-worthy supporting actor in projects including The Leftovers, Fosse/Verdon, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to a talented and captivating lead. Lately she’s flexed her chameleonic skills portraying both a single mother navigating America’s obstinate welfare system in Maid and a dominatrix navigating her long-term arrangement with a hotel heir in Sanctuary. And Qualley is just getting started; look for her in forthcoming work from filmmakers including Coralie Fargeat, Yorgos Lanthimos, and Ethan Coen. —QL
In an increasingly bloated universe of superhero storytelling, Iman Vellani has managed to shine as Kamala Khan in Disney+'s Ms. Marvel, crafting a character who is just as relatable navigating family dinners as she is saving reality-as-we-know-it from otherworldly villains. Vellani will reprise her role in November's blockbuster The Marvels alongside Brie Larson and Teyonah Parris. But much like her on-screen counterpart, the 20-year-old approaches her status as the first Muslim superhero in the franchise with great responsibility, bringing a refreshing sense of representation to the next era of the MCU. —NP
Rina Sawayama took an unconventional path to the acting industry. The BRIT Award–nominated pop singer has spent her music career co-directing and writing theatrical music videos, which caught the attention of the John Wick franchise and its star Keanu Reeves. Earlier this year, Sawayama made her silver screen debut as the bow-and-arrow wielding assassin Akira Shimanzu in John Wick: Chapter 4, a process that involved five weeks of stunt training. Whether she’s acting or singing, Sawayama dedicates herself to celebrating eccentricity and pushing boundaries, and is a vocal political advocate as a pansexual Japanese-British woman. While she’s set to spend the rest of 2023 touring, the multi-hyphenate’s budding acting career is sure to blossom. —QL
While many newcomers cut their teeth with young adult adaptations or made-for-teen rom-coms, few actors have done it as gracefully as Lola Tung. The 20-year-old caught her on-screen break as Isabel "Belly" Conklin in Jenny Han's Amazon Prime Video streamer The Summer I Turned Pretty and turned what could've been a trite soap opera (a love triangle that plays out in a picturesque beach town) into a nostalgic retrospective on youth and love that audiences haven't seen since Katie Holmes circa Dawson's Creek. With her soulful nature and instant likability, she's sure to continue her leading lady status beyond the YA genre. —NP
Since 2020, Myha’la Herrold has given one of the most exciting performances on HBO as hyper-competitive investment banker and antiheroine Harper Stern on Industry. Whether she’s cajoling a client against a ticking clock as Harper or brandishing a gun as Jordan in A24’s horror satire Bodies Bodies Bodies, the 27-year-old is best known for playing characters who are both impossible to look away from and terrifying to look directly in the eye. This summer, she’ll bring her talents to the highly-anticipated sixth season of Black Mirror, followed by the Netflix adaptation of the best-selling thriller Leave the World Behind. —QL
As Marie Claire’s Entertainment Director, Neha oversees and executes strategy for all editorial talent bookings and culture coverage across the brand's print and digital entities, including covers, celebrity profiles and features, social takeovers, and video franchises as well as handles talent relations for MC's flagship summit, Power Trip. She's passionate about elevating diverse voices and stories, loves a hot-take, and generally hates reboots. She's worked in media for more than 10 years and her bylines about pop culture, film & tv, and fashion have appeared on Glamour, Vanity Fair, GQ, Allure, Teen Vogue, Brides, and Architectural Digest. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
- Quinci LeGardyeContributing Culture Editor
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