In recent years, young Black Hollywood has birthed dozens of superstars and legends in the making. Actors such as Zendaya, Keke Palmer, John Boyega, and Caleb McLaughlin, among others, have wowed audiences with their talent since the turn of the new decade. And with the new year comes a new list of emerging entertainers expanding the scope of Black narratives on screen.
Actors such as Coco Jones, Halle Bailey, and Jacob Latimore are not only great on screens big and small, but they’re also are seasoned veterans in the realm of music, reminiscent of the early days when we revered people like Sammy Davis Jr., Eartha Kitt, and Harry Belafonte who could both act and sing. The rise of social media has also forced many of today’s up-and-coming stars to be multi-dimensional, which can ultimately add to their longevity in the entertainment industry.
Black Hollywood has also shown that our stories can translate on a large scale, and that we can also have leading roles in blockbuster films. Letitia Wright, Shameik Moore, and Dominique Thorne have all joined the Marvel Universe, making them some of the most bankable stars in cinema. Not only are these actors of color here to stay, but they all have the power and influence to inspire generations of entertainers to come. Check out our list of 10 actors to watch in 2023 below.
At only 25, Courtney “Coco” Jones is already a seasoned veteran in the industry. In 2009, she was chosen to perform live on a special episode of the Maury Povich Show, and in 2010, Jones was the runner up during Season 3 of Radio Disney’s The Next Big Thing singing competition. Shortly after, she released her debut project Coco Jones, and guest-starred on the television series So Random!, shortly thereafter. Jones rose to prominence in 2012 with her role in the Disney film Let It Shine, and continued to release music in subsequent years. In 2022, Jones was cast in her biggest role to date; as Hilary in the Peacock series Bel-Air. She recently released her fifth LP last November, titled What I Didn’t Tell You.
The Atlanta native burst onto the scene in 2015 in the Netflix film, Dope. The following year, Moore starred as Shaolin Fantastic, in The Get Down – a drama that chronicled the infancy stages of hip-hop. Also an accomplished musician, he released a series of singles before joining the Marvel Universe in 2018, when he was the voice of Miles Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Similar to his involvement in The Get Down, Moore was – and is – pivotal to another origin story. He currently portrays Raekwon, one of the founding members of Wu-Tang clan in Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga, which will premiere its third and final season in February.
Amarteifio played Roz Huntley’s daughter in the fourth season of Line of Duty. We’ve also seen the actress in Sex Education, and Doctor Who, as the magician’s apprentice, Alison. She has also been cast in Military Wives, Unforgotten, The Tunnel, and The Evermore Chronicles. Now, Amarteifio stars as the younger version of Golda Rosheuvel’s Queen Charlotte. The upcoming Netflix series chronicles the queen’s love life, and her journey from outsider to a position of extreme power. She will also star in Sky Original Drama The Midwich Cuckoos, so audiences worldwide can look forward to seeing much more of her in the near future.
McCrary began his acting career in 2015 at age 8 on K.C. Undercover, where he appeared in two episodes. In December of 2016, he made a guest appearance on Childish Gambino’s song “Terrified,” and the following year he appeared on the shows I’m Dying, Up Here, and Teachers. After releasing his first official single called “Inviting All of You” in 2018, McCrary co-starred in the comedy film Little, and provided the voice of young Simba in the live action remake of the Disney film, 2019’s The Lion King. Last year, the 15-year-old actor had a standout performance in Netflix’s ensemble movie, 13.
Although Halle Bailey has come into her own in recent years, she has been in the national spotlight for quite some time. Born and raised in Georgia, her family moved Halle and her older sister Chlöe to Los Angeles around the age of 12. It was there that she began to flourish as both an actress and musician. The two sisters started uploading their song covers to a YouTube page, which earned them an appearance on The Ellen Show in April 2012. They also won Season 5 of Radio Disney’s The Next Big Thing, the following year. After signing to Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment imprint and having an increasingly popular singing career, Halle rose to prominence as a thespian in Freeform’s Grown-ish. She will star as Ariel in this year’s The Little Mermaid, and was also cast as young Nettie in The Color Purple.
Dominique Thorne is poised to have a breakout year in 2023 – but her journey in entertainment began several years prior. Born in New York to two Trinidadian immigrants, the 25-year-old actress studied dramatic theater during her time at the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan, where she achieved several accolades; including the Young Arts Award in Spoke Theater, as well as the U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts. About five months prior to her graduation from Cornell University in 2019, Thorne made her feature film debut as Sheila Hunt in the Academy Award-nominated If Beale Street Could Talk. In 2021, she appeared in Judas and the Black Messiah, followed by being cast in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as Riri Williams – or Ironheart – the following year. You can see Thorne reprising her role as Wiliams in the upcoming Disney+ series, Ironheart.
Latimore began his singing career at the age of in 2005, when he released the song “Best Friend.” He caught the acting bug four years later when he appeared in an episode of One Tree Hill – and hasn’t looked back. Since 2010, the 26-year-old has been cast in films such as Black Nativity, Ride Along, Maze Runner, Detroit, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He also has a main role in Lena Waithe’s The Chi, on Showtime. Even with the immense success the Milwaukee native has had on the small screen he still remains passionate about music. His debut album, Connection, was released in 2016, and his second effort, Connection2, was released on April 26, 2019. The multi-talented artist is now the star of the House Party remake, alongside Tosin Cole.
This Juilliard School graduate appeared in two major Hollywood films and a Showtime drama series in 2022 alone. In addition to the roles of mayoral candidate Bella Reál in The Batman and Shante in The Woman King, she played a young Michelle Obama on drama series The First Lady. Lawson was also seen in the period biopic Till as Myrlie Evers, and she’s currently attached to star as civil rights advocate Betty Shabazz in Genius, the upcoming fourth installment of an anthology series.
Wright rose to prominence in 2018 for her role as Shuri in the blockbuster hit, Black Panther, but she got her start over a decade ago with her performances on shows such as Top Boy, Chasing Shadows, and Humans. In 2015, the UK-born actress had her breakout role in the film Urban Hymn, for which BAFTA named her among that year’s group of Breakthrough Brits. Since then, her acting prowess has earned her several award nominations and wins, including a Primetime Emmy nomination for her appearance in Netflix’s Black Mirror. In 2019, she received the BAFTA Rising Star Award, and reprised the role as Shuri in Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Later this year, Wright is slated to star as Moses Washington in the crime drama, Surrounded.
At only 28, Jordan Fisher has become one of the most accomplished entertainers in the industry. He began his career with recurring roles on several television series, including The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Liv and Maddie from 2015 to 2017. He also had supporting roles in the television films Teen Beach Movie series and the live versions of Grease and Rent. After releasing a couple of singles in 2020, Fisher brought it back to his acting roots by starring in three subsequent films, and is also set to appear in Spellbound later this year. This young man has conquered film, television, music, and stage; if he continues at this trajectory, the world will be at his fingertips.