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10 Rising Black TV Stars to Watch

10 Rising Black TV Stars to Watch
10 Rising Black TV Stars to Watch

This awards season, Black actors have been collecting kudos in notable ways.

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Abbott Elementary‘s Quinta Brunson became the second Black woman to be named Outstanding Lead Actress in Comedy, following Jeffersons matriarch Isabel Sanford’s win — 42 years prior.

The Bear‘s Ayo Edebiri cooked up a win as Supporting Actress in a Comedy, after being one of a record four Black women — along with Shrinking‘s Jessica Williams and Abbott‘s Janelle James and Sheryl Lee Ralph — nominated in that category.

Niecy Nash-Betts converted her fourth career Emmy nod into her first win, for Supporting Actress in a Limited Series (Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story), and RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s titular host added to his record (14 total wins!) as the most-awarded host and Black person in Emmys history.

And looking ahead to the Oscars, Jeffrey Wright and Colman Domingo joined the ranks of Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington with their nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role, while the Supporting categories are fielding three Black contenders (Sterling K. Brown, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Danielle Brooks).

It all has to be a bit inspiring to Black actors on the rise, to see strides not just being made in diversity in casting, but to see more and more of those who came before them receive plaudits, to have good, hard work recognized.

To mark Black History Month this year, TVLine is highlighting 10 Black actors who are on the rise and poised to break out in 2024. Some have a credit or two, and a big showcase on the horizon. Others have several previous TV and movie credits, but with an upcoming gig will land on the pop culture radar like never before.

TVLine also invited these 10 rising stars to open up about those who inspired them to be — and as — actors. Sidney Poitier, Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Phylicia Rashad and Spike Lee are but a few of the success stories that inspire these young actors as they shape their own stories….

Jovan Adepo

Jovan Adepo
Jovan Adepo

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: Prime Video’s Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Facebook Watch’s Sorry for Your Loss, HBO’s The Leftovers and Watchmen

COMING UP: Netflix’s 3 Body Problem (premiering March 21), Max’s Welcome to Derry (premiering in 2025)

HIS INSPIRATIONS: “I feel very fortunate my parents were cinephiles. I was introduced to the likes of Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Lou Gossett and Laurence Fishburne (among others) very early. I also enjoy Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Esposito, Wendell Pierce, Mahershala Ali, Viola Davis, Regina King, Kimberly Elise and Alfre Woodard’s work.”

Dexter Darden

Dexter Darden
Dexter Darden

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: Peacock’s Saved by the Bell, Making Moves web series

COMING UP: Peacock’s Fight Night: The Million Dollar Heist limited series, where he’ll star as Muhammad Ali

HIS INSPIRATIONS: “There’s so many Black icons and brilliant artists that have inspired me that to limit this to just a few almost feels disrespectful! I have to go with my immediate list of moguls who have blazed trails I’d love to follow: Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Viola Davis, Eddie Murphy, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Angela Bassett!”

Christina Elmore

Christina Elmore
Christina Elmore

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: HBO’s Insecure, BET’s Twenties, TNT’s The Last Ship

COMING UP: Max’s The Girls on the Bus (premiering March 14)

HER INSPIRATION: “The actor who most inspired me to want to do this work is hands down Phylicia Rashad. From all the time I’d spent as a child watching her in The Cosby Show to her many film and theater roles, I’ve always been in awe of her natural grace, authentic presence and the nuance and life she brings to every character. I always believe her, and I’ve been chasing that kind of authenticity in my work ever since.”

Ncuti Gatwa

Ncuti Gatwa
Ncuti Gatwa

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: Two Doctor Who specials, Netflix’s Sex Education, BBC’s Stonemouth

COMING UP: Apple TV+’s Masters of the Air (currently releasing on Fridays), Doctor Who Season 14 (premiering in May)

HIS INSPIRATION: As evidenced by his landmark casting in the lead role on an iconic sci-fi series that heretofore had only been played by white men (and one woman), Gatwa is inspired by the desire to exceed expectations, including his own. “I’m a good actor [but Doctor Who] is a 60-year-long British institution and I’m a Black man, so I never thought that I’d be chosen to front something that is basically the heart of the BBC,” he told the UK GQ. “Your existence when you’re a marginalized person is political. So you, and the world, are aware of that, and people make decisions accordingly.”

Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: MGM+’s Godfather of Harlem, Fox’s Shots Fired

COMING UP: National Geographic’s Genius: MLK/X (currently airing Thursdays at 9 and 10 pm), Disney’s Mufasa: The Lion King film (releasing Dec. 20)

HIS INSPIRATIONS: “I love Viola Davis. Queen Mother. And then Nicole Beharie, I’m obsessed with. I love seeing people that are navigating the current space and doing it beautifully and brilliantly, so that inspires me a lot. And then, completely left field, I love Tilda Swinton. I love how much of a chameleon she is. I never know when she’s in a movie. I just love how she navigates it all.”

Ernest Kingsley Jr.

Ernest Kingsley Jr.
Ernest Kingsley Jr.

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: Netflix’s The Sandman, MGM+’s War of the Worlds

COMING UP: Hulu’s Washington Black (releasing sometime in 2024)

HIS INSPIRATIONS: “[Washington Black] co-star Sterling K. Brown has definitely been an inspiration for me as a budding actor. Just seeing his power and presence when performing spurs me to bring out the best in myself. It’s like osmosis. Mahershala Ali is another actor who spurs me on. He has this gentle firmness that’s just so endearing to watch. The way he carries himself is how I’d want to carry myself as an actor!”

Taylour Paige

Taylour Paige
Taylour Paige

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: VH1/BET’s Hit the Floor, HBO’s Ballers, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy

COMING UP: Netflix’s Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F (releasing July 3), Max’s Welcome to Derry (premiering in 2025)

HER INSPIRATION: Paige raved about filming with her Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom co-star Viola Davis in an interview with Refinery29: “I was just constantly taking in someone who lives her life on and off screen in such a way that’s big and unapologetic, but it’s also humble and kind… It’s just that constant clear divine dance she does of knowing she’s the s—t, but also remembering where she’s come from. I just hope to always remain grounded and kind like her, and to really just care about the work.”

Aaron Pierre

Aaron Pierre
Aaron Pierre

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: Prime Video’s The Underground Railroad, Syfy’s Krypton

COMING UP: National Geographic’s Genius: MLK/X (currently airing Thursdays at 9 and 10 pm), Disney’s Mufasa: The Lion King film (releasing Dec. 20)

HIS INSPIRATIONS: “The first people that come to mind are August Wilson, James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and Viola Davis. Just the commitment to their artistry and to serving their communities in their work is something that I deeply admire and respect. And I’m grateful for them because they paved the way for us to be here and have the opportunity to do these things that we’re doing today.”

Sean Sagar

Sean Sagar
Sean Sagar

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: CBS’ NCIS: Sydney, BET’s Sistas, Netflix’s Fate: The Winx Saga, ITV2’s Buffering, BBC One’s Our Girl

COMING UP: The remainder of Sistas Season 7, Netflix’s Mea Culpa (a Tyler Perry movie, releasing Feb. 23) and very likely NCIS: Sydney Season 2

HIS INSPIRATIONS: “Acting has always been something that sat deeply with me as I was growing up. From watching my brother Nicholas Sagar (Queen of the South, The Haves and the Have Nots) as well as the greats, such as Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Bernie Mac and Chris Tucker. Where I grew up, there wasn’t much opportunity for kids to chase their dreams and I wanted to break that cycle. I want kids to realize that no matter your surroundings, you can do what you dream of, to realize it is possible and doesn’t just have to be a dream. I became an actor to create art and tell a story, to play characters that people can relate to. I also owe it to my eldest brother Michael, who has inspired me from a young age to chase what I really loved!”

Amandla Stenberg

Amandla Stenberg
Amandla Stenberg

PREVIOUS TV CREDITS: Netflix’s The Eddy, NBC’s Mr. Robinson, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow

COMING UP: The live-action Star Wars series The Acolyte (premiering sometime in 2024)

HER INSPIRATION: “Spike Lee has always had the incisive ability to afford us the shades we deserve on-screen, but I find a particular solace in the meditative and vibrant colors he gives us in [the 1994 movie] Crooklyn: childhood, tenderness, joy, beauty, solitude, connection, somehow all radiating from Alfre Woodard’s crown of beads.”

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