Today’s Hollywood is much different than yesterday’s. Tomorrow’s Hollywood will likely look different, too. Over time, we’ve seen great Black voices rise to fame and effect some powerful changes across the industry. Today, amid increasing calls for representation in film and TV, the next generation of great Black actors is already here, creating incredible art. It’s a wonderful excitement wondering what many of them will do next. To celebrate some of the new voices and faces that now grace our screens, we’re exploring some of the talented young Black actors that are making waves on the screen. Let’s jump in.
Michael B. Jordan
Born in 1987, Michael Bakari Jordan isn’t the youngest face in Hollywood by a long shot. Still — after his incredible performance in “Fruitvale Station,” followed by his incredible performance in the titular role in the Rocky film, “Creed,” and then as Killmonger in “Black Panther,” Michael B Jordan has captivated audiences around the world, leaving many to wonder what this relatively young star will do next. Jordan has already won a number of awards and accolades, including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture from the NAACP Image Awards in 2019 for his role in “Black Panther.”
In 2018, Jordan announced that his own company — the Outlier Society — would be adopting a inclusion rider clause, that contractually mandates diversity in hiring on projects, moving forward, saying that “In support of the women & men who are leading this fight, I will be adopting the Inclusion Rider for all projects produced by my company Outlier Society,” according to The Guardian.
John Boyega is a British actor, who may be most well-known for his role as Finn in the later Star Wars movies. While this wasn’t his first role by a longshot, it was his breakthrough role and one that earned him international acclaim. Boyega is far from finished, and having been born in 1992, is still a relatively young face in Hollywood.
In 2017, he starred in “Detroit,” which explored the 12th Street Riot. Boyega feels strongly about representation and human rights, and as British GQ reported once spoke at a Black Lives Matter event in London saying “I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing! That isn’t the case any more. That is never the case any more.” Boyega is now working on a sequel to “Attack The Block,” which was his first film role, as well as with Letitia Wright on an upcoming sci-fi project, further expanding his contribution as a face of Black representation in sci-fi.
Letitia Wright is a British – Guyanese actress, who was born in Georgetown, Guyana and moved to England at the age of 8 years. She may be most well-known for her role as Jamie Harrison in Urban Hymn, though she began acting around 2011, taking on roles in “Top Boy,” and “Holby City.” In 2018, she starred in “Black Panther,” alongside Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan.
She’s now working on an upcoming “sci-fi love story” that will be based on the novel “Hold Back the Stars” by Katie Khan, alongside John Boyega who will co-star.
Wright has discussed common struggles faced by black women in western society, and in an interview with Glamour Magazine UK, said “I think that unfortunately, I was pulled into the belief that straighter hair was better and unfortunately I did hair processing as a kid and lost all the natural beauty of it. But then it was actually playing Shuri and having her braids and seeing everything be so celebrated in the films that really encouraged me to embrace my own beauty with my hair. So yeah, that’s been a journey that I’ve been on and one I’m really proud of.”
Born in 1996, Zendaya is a very young face in Hollywood, even today. Despite that, her acting career spans well over a decade, with her having gotten a start working in roles such as a Sears commercial that featured Selena Gomez in 2009. Her breakout role may have been as Michelle, in “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” for which she received a high level of acclaim from audiences and critics. Her portrayal of Rue in “Euphoria” only solidified her status as a crowd-amazing star.
Now, Zendaya uses her immense platform for justice — fighting for causes including feminism, racial justice, empowering underserved low-income communities, and voting rights and activism.
Denis Villeneuve, who directed “Dune,” wrote in a Time article that “[Zendaya] is an autonomous creative force herself. A cultural icon in the making. A person driven by pure inspiration, empathy, and respect for her craft, who uses authenticity as a new superpower… . Zendaya is the future. And there is nothing more comforting to me. This is only the beginning.”
Kiersey Nicole Clemons may be best known for her role playing Diggy in “Dope.” However, she has played in a number of roles, including as Kira Starr in the Disney Channel show, “Austin & Ally” which was one of her first roles. She also played Biance in “Transparent.” In 2016, she won the Black Reel Awards’ Best Breakthrough Performance award in the female category for her work in “Dope,” and in 2017 was labeled one of Variety 10 Actors to Watch at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
Clemons has opened up about representation in Hollywood, and in an interview with James Franco for Issue Magazine, said “After Dope, with all the scripts I was reading, that was the main thing. I don’t care what number I am on the call sheet. I don’t care if I’m the lead. I don’t care who’s opposite. I want it to be beneficial and fulfilling. So it was really nice to get something that wasn’t a stereotype. I don’t know the last time I saw a black girl being funny and not making fun of herself. So it was cool to just play a normal college girl.”
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