Whether it’s on the small or big screen, 2023 is packed with rising stars and next-level elevation. From career-defining turns, such as Halle Bailey taking over a classic Disney remake to Naomi Ackie starring in Zoë Kravitz's directorial debut, the lineup is insane. Here are 23 actors making major power moves this year: Dominique Fishback, Damson Idris, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, India Ria Amarteifio, Ncuti Gatwa and more.
INDIA RIA AMARTEIFIO
Doctor Who may have been her first big gig, followed by playing Lizzie on Netflix’s Sex Education, but now Amarteifio’s in the role of a lifetime! As star of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, the origin story of one of the most intriguing figures in Shonda Rhimes’ hit Netflix franchise is in her hands.
Lovecraft Country gave us just a taste of what was in store from this thespian, with The Harder They Fall further whetting our appetites. In November, Majors really turned up the heat with the high-flying Devotion celebrating hidden figure Jesse Brown and is now capping off the full meal headlining the Sundance draw Magazine Dreams, starring as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel’s Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and stepping into the ring with Michael B. Jordan in Creed III.
Playing Eric Effiong in Netflix’s Sex Education first got this Rwandan-Scottish actor buzzing and now that he’s become the first Black lead of the iconic British series Doctor Who, the noise is deafening. If that weren’t enough, Gatwa also checks into Barbie on the big screen and shows up in Masters of the Air, Apple TV+’s epic World War II limited series.
Sadly, this is the year we say goodbye to our beloved FX series Snowfall, but we know the great John Singleton is smiling down on his handpicked British Nigerian star-turned-South Central finest as he goes out with a bang in his sixth and final season. Of course, there are zero doubts that Idris’ culture-defining role as Franklin Saint will follow him forever. But greater fame does await. Just look at his friend and fellow Brit Idris Elba f.k.a. Stringer Bell.
As part of her sisterly duo Chloe x Halle, brought to us by none other than Queen Bey herself, is how Halle Bailey first stole our hearts. Then she and her sis took their talents to the small screen as Sky and Jazz in grown-ish. Now she’s flying solo, taking on the iconic role of Princess Ariel in the Disney classic The Little Mermaid, as well as playing Nettie in the big screen musical version of The Color Purple, followed up with the thriller The Line.
Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle In Time may have got Storm Reid rolling, but the Atlanta native has certainly kept it up, even playing younger sister Gia to Zendaya’s Rue in the HBO hit Euphoria. This year she’s kicking it up yet another notch starring in the breakout big-screen thriller Missing with Nia Long, popping up as Riley Abel in HBO’s The Last of Us, lending her voice to The Proud Family, checking into Killing Winston James, and joining the hit horror sequel The Nun 2.
Her career may already include Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of the Skywalker and starring as the icon herself in Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody, but Ackie is not done hitting those high notes. This year the BAFTA winner taps into a new frequency as star of Pussy Island, Zoë Kravitz’s highly anticipated directorial debut.
We adored Rothwell as Kelli on Insecure and marveled at her Emmy-nominated performance as Belinda in HBO’s hit series The White Lotus. Now we can’t wait for this brilliant writer, producer, and actress to give us all of her on her very own show How To Die Alone.
The Queen’s Gambit and Obi-Wan Kenobi star Moses Ingram is not letting up in 2023. Instead, she kicked off the year with her Sundance film All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt and is rounding it out in two Apple TV+ miniseries, The Lady in the Lake set in her native Baltimore and The Big Cigar revolving around the manhunt for Huey P. Newton.
YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II
Candyman and The Matrix Resurrections star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is back in his bad guy bag as he resumes the role of David Kane/Black Manta, the villainous foil to Jason Momoa’s underwater hero, in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. But he’s also getting into his good guy superhero zone, switching from DC to Marvel, to helm the Wonder Man series for Disney+.
Motherhood may be Parris’ greatest development this year, but the Wandavision actress is also adding more career milestones, taking her Monica Rambeau to the big screen with The Marvels, starring alongside Jamie Foxx and John Boyega in the long-awaited They Cloned Tyrone, then fa-la-la-la-ing with Dashing Through the Snow.
Embodying the great Mamie Till-Mobley, whose refusal to let her son Emmet’s murder in the Mississippi Delta go unpunished helped spark a new civil rights swagger, for Till got Danielle Deadwyler, whose previous credits include HBO's Watchmen and, yes, Tyler Perry's The Haves and the Have Nots, the recognition she's long deserved. Refusing to rest on her laurels, this Atlanta peach, who also stunned in From Scratch alongside Zoe Saldana, is forging ahead with upcoming projects that include Carry-On, Parallel, and I Saw the TV Glow. .
Underscoring how much of a kid Emmett Till was before his horrific murder in Till was a breakthrough for Hall, whom many know as Spencer James’ younger brother Dillon on All American. This year he also hits us with the Disney/Disney+ series adaptation of poet Kwame Alexander’s bestselling book The Crossover showing that basketball dreams and intelligence do indeed go together. He’s also playing a young MLK for National Geographic’s Genius: MLK/X about two of our greatest leaders.
After holding her own alongside Jamie Foxx in Netflix’s Project Power, Samuel L. Jackson in the Apple TV+ limited series The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray, and Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah, Fishback is finally taking on the summer blockbuster, starring in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.
In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, we got a taste of the MCU’s newest “Black Girl Magic” recruit—STEM genius Riri Williams, also superhero Ironheart, and now we just can’t wait for Thorne to give us more in her very own Disney+ series Ironheart.
She played Pearl, the only daughter to Kerry Washington’s Mia, in Little Fires Everywhere, but now Underwood’s bringing her own heat starring as a mysterious and sexy newcomer in Freeform’s super juicy, hit anthology Cruel Summer.
She may not even be a tween yet, but McIntosh is ready to breakout. As pint-sized, child-age Paige to Kerry Washington’s adult Paige in Unprisoned, this Atlanta native makes more than an impression; she steals the show and everybody’s heart.
If you caught her as Kyra in You Don’t Know Me on Netflix, then you already know how bright SWilde’s future is. This year she is showing and proving by adding much-needed color and energy as the female lead in PBS’s updated four-part version of Tom Jones. Her film Talk To Me just premiered at Sundance, plus she has The Portable Door and a role in the series The F**k It Bucket also on deck!
You probably recognize Sinclair from that crazy ride with When the Bough Breaks a few years back. Well, she’s leveled up. This year she stars as Red River Supe Marie Moreau in Gen V, the spinoff of Amazon Prime’s popular series The Boys.
It’s about damn time Taylor got the leading lady big screen love she deserves. There’s no doubt her role as strong-willed, single mama Inez navigating 1990s Harlem and the gentrification of the early 2000s in A Thousand and One will have the Mary J. Blige effect of making the everyday Black woman feel seen. And just for some fun, she’s also representing in the reboot of White Men Can’t Jump.
Nabbing a leading role alongside Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Geller in a series she also executive produces is like hitting the TV lottery, but Jackson has indeed beaten the odds and done just that in the role of Everett Lang for the Paramount+ series Wolf Pack.
We loved her in Shameless and now she’s got her own NBC show. In Found from All American writer/executive producer Nkechi Okoro Carroll, Hampton stars as Gabi Mosley who specializes in finding the missing and forgotten. The network is so high on her series that they moved it to the fall.
J. ALPHONSE NICHOLSON
We might be waiting for season three of P-Valley’s return, but Nicholson isn’t. Instead, he’s using his time off from playing rapper/Uncle Clifford’s boo Lil Murda to put in as much work as he can. Of his many projects, the films They Cloned Tyrone and White Men Can't Jump, and the miniseries The Sterling Papers revolving around the racist former L.A. Clippers owner are just three we can’t miss.