Following #OscarsSoWhite, the #MeToo movement, and increased demands for representation on social media, the film and television industry has undergone an impressive series of changes in the past few years.
Since 2011, the presence of actors who aren't white has grown from 10.5% to 38.9% in 2021, according to Statista. Leads who are women have increased from 25.6% to 47.2% (it is worth noting that Statista's data was collected using a binary understanding of sex and gender). While no similar report includes data for LGBTQ+ actors, GLAAD's 2021 report shows that 22.7% of films from major studios in 2020 included LGBTQ+ characters, up 4.1% from the year before.
While there is still much room to grow, there are more diverse and exciting characters on screen than ever. This influx of characters has required a similar need for a new generation of actors to accurately tell these stories.
Stacker researched 23 up-and-coming actors likely to be talked about in 2023. Whether they're coming off a record year, have an impressive upcoming slate, contending for awards recognition at the Oscars or Emmys, or leading a Marvel or Disney movie that will play on every megaplex screen across America, these names of rising stars will surely be bubbling up your social conversations in the coming months.
Halle Bailey made waves when it was announced that the 22-year-old singer and actress would be playing Ariel in Disney's live-action version of "The Little Mermaid,'' to be released May 2023, but this isn't her first Disney film.
Bailey appeared in Disney Channel's "Let It Shine" when she was only 12 years old. With four Grammy nominations (for her work in R&B duo Chloe x Halle), a popular role on the sitcom "Grown-ish" and an upcoming role in a musical film adaptation of "The Color Purple," Bailey is set to be a major star.
This 22-year-old Australian actress got her start in a church production of "Little Red Rocking Hood," but is now better known for playing Young Rhaenyra in HBO's new "Game of Thrones" prequel "House of Dragons." While Alcock won't be returning to the fantasy genre for the foreseeable future, the rave reviews of her performance will surely create many opportunities in the future.
Diego Calva stars in his first major American film with "Babylon," Damien Chazelle's epic film set in 1920s Hollywood. Calva plays the lead role in the movie as an ambitious actor trying to break into the industry.
Co-star Margot Robbie claims he's a good actor and "has a presence about him that [she thinks] will make him the movie star he's going to be." Previously seen in Netflix's "Narcos: Mexico," Calva has been open about his continued commitment to Latin American cinema even after this big break.
From an early age, Taiwanese American actress Stephanie Hsu dreamed of becoming a performer.
With a stint on Broadway and featured roles in Amazon's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and HBO's "Awkwafina is Nora from Queens," Hsu was an already impressive actress before landing her breakout role in the Daniels' 2022 hit film "Everything Everywhere All at Once." Expect to hear more of Hsu as she headlines a movie directed by Adele Lim (who wrote "Crazy Rich Asians" and "Raya and the Last Dragon").
Jack Champion is one of the younger actors on this list at only 18 years old, but he has been working in the film and TV industry since 2015. He had minor roles in "The Divergent Series: Insurgent'' and "Avengers: Endgame," but has recently found his big break in James Cameron's sequel "Avatar: The Way of Water." Champion plays Spider, a human orphan raised with the Na'vi people who struggles to be fully accepted.
AMC's new television adaptation of Anne Rice's iconic "Interview With the Vampire" features 19-year-old actress Bailey Bass as Claudia, a teenager unwillingly turned into the vampire daughter of Lestat (Sam Reid) and Louis (Jacob Anderson). This isn't Bass' first role. She first appeared in the 2011 film "A Little Bit of Heaven" and has been in an episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." Bass joined Jack Champion in "Avatar: The Way of the Water" and plays Tsireya, a Na'vi diver.
Out of the over 2,000 actors who auditioned for the part, Jewish actor Gabriel LaBelle won the incredible honour of playing a young Steven Spielberg in the director's new semi-autobiographical film "The Fabelmans."
Even though the actor is only 20, he's made his way to the silver screen in the indie zombie film "Dead Shack" and Shane Black's remake of the horror film "The Predator." LaBelle is also sharing the screen with Jon Bernthal in Showtime's remake of "American Gigolo."
Danielle Deadwyler captivated audiences with her emotional performance as Mamie Till-Mobley in Chinonye Chukwu's 2022 film "Till." Deadwyler's performance has been lauded, winning her the Gotham Independent Film Award for Outstanding Lead Performance.
The Atlanta-born actress already had a long list of credits before "Till" including performances in HBO's "Watchmen," FX's "Atlanta," and the Netflix film "The Harder They Fall" and is committed to "Carry-On" with Taron Egerton for the upcoming year.
One of the newer additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jonathan Majors played He Who Remains in the series "Loki" and will expand the role as notorious villain Kang in the 2023 "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania."
Majors' first lead role was in the critically acclaimed independent drama "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," and he has since been in "Da 5 Bloods," "The Harder They Fall" and HBO's "Lovecraft Country."
With lead roles in two major 2022 movies ("Triangle of Sadness" and "Where the Crawdads Sing"), Harris Dickinson is well on his way to becoming a household name.
The British actor had his big break with the 2017 queer drama "Beach Rats" and has been in films like Xavier Dolan's "Matthias & Maxime" and the prequel to the Kingsman series, "The King's Man." Dickinson will also play an estranged father attempting to reconcile with his daughter in "Scrapper," directed by Charlotte Regan and coming to Sundance in 2023.
Woody Norman was only 11 years old when he starred alongside renowned actor Joaquin Phoenix in Mike Mills' heartfelt drama "C'mon C'mon." The pair played an uncle and nephew duo who travel across the United States, and Norman's performance perfectly matched Phoenix's in quality and intensity.
Working in the industry since the age of 5, Norman has the experience and the talent to take him far—he's already attached to an upcoming Russo Brothers project with Millie Bobby Brown, Ke Huy Quan, and Christ Pratt called "The Electric State" slated for 2024.
Quintessa Swindell became the first ever openly nonbinary actor in a DC film production when they played Cyclone in the 2022 film "Black Adam." The 25-year-old also starred in Paul Schrader's 2022 film "Master Gardener," where they play Maya, a woman who becomes friends with a former neo-Nazi gardener. Swindell has been cast in a thriller film centered around rock climbing titled "Deadpoint," which is yet to begin production.
To fans of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel, Austin Butler is not a new face. He's appeared in "Wizards of Waverly Place," "Zoey 101" and "Hannah Montana."
However, the 31-year-old actor burst into the spotlight due to his portrayal of the King of Rock 'n' Roll in Baz Lurhman's epic musical biopic "Elvis." Butler will soon be breaking into the popular Dune franchise, playing Feyd-Rautha, a character Sting brought to life in the David Lynch adaptation.
Starring alongside Harry Styles and Emma Corrin in Michael Grandage's "My Policeman," David Dawson has received critical acclaim for his performance as Patrick, a curator who falls in love with Styles' character Tom.
Dawson has had a varied career spanning television ("Peaky Blinders" and "The Last Kingdom") and stage (understudying Kevin Spacey in a production of "Richard II"). He was cast to be part of a six-part drama series called "This Town," created by Steven Knight of "Peaky Blinders."
One of the greatest challenges for an actor is playing an already iconic musician—Rami Malek did it with Freddie Mercury, Austin Butler did it with Elvis, and most recently Naomi Ackie has done it with beloved singer Whitney Houston.
"I Wanna Dance with Somebody" marks Ackie's first lead role, but the British actress has had supporting roles in "Lady Macbeth," "The End of the F***ing World" and "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker." She will star in Zoë Kravitz's upcoming directorial debut "Pussy Island" and Bong Joon Ho's next film "Mickey 17" with Robert Pattinson.
Ben Wang is an Asian American actor based in New York, known for his role in the "MacGyver" reboot and Hulu comedy "Sex Appeal." However, Wang's career is heating up. The actor has landed prominent roles for Disney in an upcoming coming-of-age film, "Chang Can Dunk."
Wang is also set to star in a television adaptation of the novel "American Born Chinese" with Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan of "Everything Everywhere All at Once" fame, placing him alongside two cinema legends.
Born in Sweden, raised in Wales, and trained in London, Morfydd Clark is a unique talent who got her start with supporting roles in the Armando Iannucci film "The Personal History of David Copperfield" and the HBO series "His Dark Materials."
It was her nuanced performance as a live-in nurse with divine aspirations in the Gothic horror film "Saint Maud" that established her as a breakthrough talent. Clark is now playing Galadriel, a role previously played by Cate Blanchett, in the new Amazon "Lord of the Rings" series "The Rings of Power."
Though he's only 14 years old, Banks Repeta already has several credits to his name on IMDb. When the Wilmington-based actor isn't in middle school, he's working with productions like the comedy show "Welcome to Flatch," the Netflix film "The Devil All the Time," and the Ethan Hawke-led horror thriller "The Black Phone."
Repeta's biggest role yet is in James Gray's semi-autobiographical film about race relations in working-class New York City titled "Armageddon Time," where he acts alongside greats like Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Chastain.
Jaylin Webb has worked with two other actors on this list: Banks Repeta in "Armageddon Time" and Danielle Deadwyler in "Till." Webb plays opposite Repeta as the character Johnny, a boy coming to terms with the disadvantages and hardships of growing up Black in 1980s New York. With roles in two of the most acclaimed films of 2022 and his signing with Innovative Artists for representation, Webb will surely be an actor to watch in the next few years.
Madeline Wise has obtained quite the impressive resume with a range of celebrated television shows, including HBO's comedy series "Crashing," Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Evil" from Paramount+.
Having a banner year in 2022, she's starred in both "Star Trek: Picard," the CBS-produced series where Wise plays the mother of famed character Jean-Luc Picard, and "So Help Me Todd." The latter show is, in Wise's own words, "a wacky hybrid of a legal procedural and a family drama," where she plays the main character Todd's older sister.
Abby Ryder Fortson
Stepping into the lead role of a beloved children's book, Abby Ryder Fortson will be playing Margaret in an adaptation of Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" set to release in 2023.
Blume herself called Fortson "funny and tender, strong yet vulnerable" and is excited to see her chemistry with Rachel McAdams, who will play her mother.
The 14-year-old actress is no stranger to the industry. Her mother is actress Christie Lynn Smith, who has more than 80 credits to her name. Fortson's already appeared in several feature films, including the first two "Ant-Man" installments and "Forever My Girl."
Zawe Ashton has had an impressive career on television (with a role in "The Handmaid's Tale"), film (starring in "Velvet Buzzsaw"), and on stage (cast in "Othello" and Harold Pinter's "Betrayal").
In 2022, she starred in "Mr. Malcolm's List," a charming period piece Ashton describes as "a Regency rom-com revenge romp, with really right nice people," and the cult classic British television show "Fresh Meat." Ashton will soon be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2023, playing a villain in "The Marvels."
When you cite Dakota Fanning as your inspiration to act, you know you're destined to make it big. Despite the actor's modest beginnings on the small screen and as a Disney Channel alum, critics really took notice of Jenna Ortega's emotional capacity to bear more mature roles after she delivered an "admirably authentic" breakout performance in "The Fallout," which dropped on HBO Max in January 2022 following a 2021 South by Southwest premiere.
All eyes remained on Ortega in 2022 thanks to her back-to-back slasher turns as a final girl in "Scream" and an unlikely adult star in "X," which crowned her Gen Z's new scream queen; by year's end, Ortega had garnered a cult following for her titular role on Netflix's "Wednesday," which earned her a Golden Globe nomination, a career first. Needless to say, audiences are just as anxious for Ortega's reprisal in 2023's "Scream VI" and the forthcoming "Finestkind" and "Miller's Girl."