Nikki Blonsky

Dark Horse Lead Actress: 'Hairspray'

Why: Blonsky went from being a virtual no-name Long Island teen working dishing out ice cream scoops to a leading actress asked to carry — and sing and dance — her way through a major Hollywood musical, and she pulled it off with panache to spare. Stellar reviews and a confident performance should help give Blonsky a steady stream of roles from here on out, instead of being a one-hit wonder. Her seismic catapult feels similar to last year’s Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson, minus the “American Idol” exposure, of course.

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