Hollywood is still in a weird limbo coming out of 2020. Some studios are returning to production with rigorous COVID testing in place. It’s tough to keep track of all the movies that are still on a delay versus those going straight to streaming. There’s no doubt that once it’s safe to return to movie theaters, we’re in for non-stop blockbusters. One thing that 2020 couldn’t put on pause was the rising talent of the best up and coming Black actors. They’re the next generation of star power in Hollywood and the BBC. We’re obsessed with their recent releases and can’t wait to see what roles they take on in a post-pandemic world.
The world fell in love with Scribner as Andre Johnson Jr. on Black-ish and as Bow on She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. He stars in the two spin-offs from Black-ish, Grown-ish, and Mixed-ish. He’s only 21 but is building some serious momentum in both movies and television for a long career in Hollywood, having already won two NAACP Image Awards. We’re excited to see what he’s got planned next, once Hollywood is back to full production capabilities post-vaccine.
Pop culture knows Ridloff as Connie in the ninth season of the Walking Dead. But she wowed more cultured audiences on the stage in a 2018 production of Children of Lesser God where her lead performance earned her a Tony nomination. Now, she’s in the Marvel movie Eternals, as Makkari, a revision of the original character who was a man in the comics. Ridloff’s portrayal of Makkari will also be deaf, like her, so she’s unaffected by the sonic boom that accompanies her super-speed.
Say what you will about Netflix’s dark drama reboots of beloved childhood comics, but Riverdale and Sabrina have real binge-ability. If you’re looking for the best black actors in the industry, Perdomo’s portrayal of Ambrose, a warlock under house arrest for trying to blow up the Vatican, was no small part of Sabrina’s early appeal. He’s warm, engaging, and complicated in the role. Perdomo auditioned for Jughead in Riverdale, but lost the part to Cole Sprouse. His audition was so memorable that the series creator wrote the role of Ambrose with him in mind. He’s poised to show up in lead roles next.
Social services in England once labeled Jobson as “the most difficult child in Westminster.” At 15, she put herself into foster care to change herself as much as her situation. It worked, given her 2020 nomination for a Bafta for her performance as Jaq on the crime-drama Top Boy. She’s appeared in a half-dozen BBC film shorts and just appeared in her first feature film, Surge, a British thriller. She’s set to return for the next season of Top Boy, but expect to see her make a Hollywood crossover soon.
Say what you want about the evils of social media; when it brings us content like Girl Who Has Never Been on a Nice Date, it’s all worth it. If you weren’t following Brunson on the socials, then you probably know her from BuzzFeed, where she started writing, producing, and directing her own content. She’s a multifaceted talent, lending her voice acting to the animated series Lazor Wulf before she started writing and starring in A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.
Goree may not necessarily count as “up and coming” since he’s been working diligently in television for over a decade. But his roles are adding up to the prestige that transitions into career-making roles in film. Those prone to streaming a particular sort of YA drama will recognize Goree from The 100 and Riverdale, but he’s best known for his roles in the HBO dramedy Ballers and the Canadian sitcom Da Kink in My Hair.
Fishback accumulated smaller credits in a dozen TV series before landing supporting roles in The Hate U Give and Night Comes On. In 2020 she starred in Power opposite Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon Levett. Next, this top black actor will appear in this year’s Judas and the Black Messiah as Fred Hampton’s girlfriend, Deborah Johnson. Before she crossed over to the screen, Fishback worked in the theater as a playwright and actor. She debuted her play, Subverted, off-off-Broadway, but received critical acclaim for her solo performance of 22 separate parts.
Ward won the Bafta Rising Star Award in 2020, making his place on the “watch” list official. Like Jobson, he’s a British actor who appeared in a few short films and guest appearances on TV before landing a starring role in Top Boy. Besides his portrayal of Jamie on the BBC series, he’s also known for his starring role in Blue Story about life on the streets of London.
Up and Coming Black Actors Photo Credit: The Trouble with Justice on Facebook