For years we’ve celebrated the achievements of actors such as Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson and many others, but as we dive into a new decade, who are the stars of tomorrow? Truth is, most of them are here right now and are actively carrying the torch in Hollywood today, and into the future. To recognize the current crop of stars who show the most promise in film and television, we’ve compiled a list of a few of the next generation of rising talent of the best up and coming Black actors.
- Lakeith Stanfield
Coming in at number one on the list, Lakeith Stanfield. Starting off his career promisingly with an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his work in 2013’s,Short Term 12, his career has been on an upward trajectory. Stanfield has appeared in a number of acclaimed films such as, Straight Outta Compton, Get Out, Sorry To Bother You, Knives Out, The Photograph, and you can probably recognize his face from a few of his other projects such as, his roles in 2021’s Judas and the Black Messiah, and Netlix’s, The Harder They Fall.
- Daniel Kaluuya
While most of the names on this list are American actors, Daniel Kaluuya is our first British actor. After a prime role in 2011’s, Johnny English Reborn, Kaluuya increased his presence in film roles, leading to a starring role as Chris Washington in the instant classic horror film, Get Out. The success of Jordan Peele’s directional debut thrust Kaluuya into a supporting role in the blockbuster, Black Panther, and another leading role in 2019’s, Queen & Slim, as well as 2020’s, Judas and the Black Messiah, starring as slain Black Panther, Fred Hampton, making Daniel Kaluuya a household name.
- Jonathan Majors
Actor Jonathan Majors vaulted from experienced theater actor to up and coming film and television star with significant roles in a series of projects such as Lovecraft Country, Da 5 Bloods, The Last Black Man in San Francisco, as well as 2021’s, The Harder They Fall. With a resume that includes working with Spike Lee and earning a lead actor Emmy nod for Lovecraft Country, it’s hard to not to imagine Majors’ career getting much bigger. This trio of roles set for Majors to film for his next set of projects – history-making naval pilot, Jesse Brown, in Devotion, Adonis Creed’s opponent in, Creed 3, and Kang the Conqueror in the Marvel Universe’s, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – just might mark the biggest break in the 32 year-old’s career.
- Mahershala Ali
With a promising start on television shows like, Crossing Jordan, and House of Cards, Mahershala Ali made his big breakout in the final film of the, Hunger Gamesseries, and hasn’t stopped yet, culminating in two Academy Award wins and a Golden Globe. Ali has the distinction of being the only Black actor to win the same Oscar twice, placing him firmly at the head of the class of this generation’s accomplished Black actors, with a future as bright as his star status.
- Ashton Durrand Sanders
Best known as the teen version of lead character, Chiron, in the Oscar-winning film,Moonlight, Ashton Sanders has had an active last couple of years. Sanders played a sizable role in both The Equalizer 2, along side Denzel Washington, and Judas and the Black Messiah, as well as his notorious role as Bobby Diggs, aka RZA, in the Wu-Tang: An American Saga series on Hulu.
- Kelvin Harrison, Jr.
What started as a venture into jazz soon turned into being a recipient of a Screen Actors Guild Award and nominations for a British Academy Film Award, Gotham Award and Independent Spirit Award, for Kelvin Harrison Jr., who at the young age of 26 is looking at a career on the rise. This is only the beginning for Harrison, since his debut in the 2013 films Ender’s Game and 12 Years a Slave, but his breakthrough performance came as, Travis, in the 2017 horror film, It Comes at Night. Harrison has also gained wider recognition for his work in Luce, Waves, and his roles for films such as The High Note, The Trial of the Chicago 7, and Cyrano.
- Michael B. Jordan
When it comes to Black male actors, Michael B. Jordan is definitely one of the most popular. His career began when he was just 12 years old, starting a path that finds him as a legitimate A-list celebrity. Jordan’s first major role was in the HBO series, The Wire, among a number of pivotal roles in 2013’s Fruitvale Station, which also launched the career of director Ryan Coogler, who would continue his roll with Jordan in Creed and Black Panther. When it’s all said and done, Michael B. Jordan could end up at the top of list of up and comers.
- John David Washington
The apple of greatness does not fall far from the tree, as John David Washington, the son of Denzel, seeks to supplant dear old dad with significant work of his own. With a role in five seasons of HBO’s Ballers, and expanding into Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations for his starring role in Spike Lee’s Academy Award-winning, BlacKKKsman, cementing Washington as a bona fide star.
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
A critically praised turn as a vain, disco-dancing club owner on Netflix series, The Get Down, gave actor, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, a career boost that led to major roles in The Greatest Showman, Aquaman, and as of recently, 2021’s, Candyman. The praise afforded to him by his performances have led to steady and diverse work in features.
- Damson Idris
With ambitions to follow in the path of the “great Denzel Washington,” it certainly seems more than possible for the South East London actor, Damson Idris, who has done well on-screen. Idris’ breakout role as Franklin Saint, an ambitious 19-year old drug dealer in Los Angeles, in the FX crime drama, Snowfall, from the late director, John Singleton, has made Damson Idris rising act to watch.
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