The talent — aged 25 and under — on Variety’s annual list are platform agnostic (and so are the adult reps on the list who’ve impacted the careers of young performers). Showbiz finds stars almost anywhere — and it’s an exciting time when YouTubers move into traditional, while the music biz can mine various platforms for exciting new talent. On our Up Next report, we focus on talent poised for a breakthrough.
From the very beginning of A&E’s “Born This Way,” an unscripted series about the lives of young adults with Down syndrome, lead cast member Bomgaars says she knew she would build a platform around advocacy. She produced a video called “Don’t Limit Me,” and has launched an entrepreneurial and advocacy career with her website, Megology. On Megology, Bomgaars teamed up with Sanrio to produce her own fashion line. “I want to inspire other people like myself, people with Down syndrome, that we can be ourselves and do what we want,” Bomgaars says.
Cabello was already a fixture on the pop scene as one-fifth of Fifth Harmony, but her career truly exploded following her December 2016 exit from the group to go solo. After successful guest turns on hits with Shawn Mendes (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) and Machine Gun Kelly (“Bad Things”), Cabello went on to sign her own record deal with Syco Music/Epic. She released the No. 1 smash “Havana” in 2017. She also won artist of the year and video of the year at the MTV Video Music Awards. Says Cabello’s manager Roger Gold: “Camila has the admiration of her music peers and also her idols because what she’s doing is real. In every musical note and every lyric you feel her. It’s something really special and I’m awed and inspired by her every day.”
Actor-singer Carpenter recently released a new single, “Almost Love,” that sounds like it’s about that point where a crush deepens — but in her mind, the “almost” is really a metaphor for the general on-the-cuspness that comes with just being 19: “These are the years where everything feels like Christmas because we’re constantly just unwrapping new emotions.” Onscreen, she’s graduating from the cheerful lead in Disney Channel fare like “Girl Meets World” to roles in more mature films like October’s Black Lives Matter-themed “The Hate U Give” (playing “a character no one’s really gonna like”). Both that film and her forthcoming album, “Singular,” reflect a belief that Generation Z “is open-minded, asks questions, rejects ignorance and does speak up when something doesn’t feel right.”
Sara Jaye Weiss/REX/Shutterstock
Dennison lived the teen dream of starring in a comicbook pic when he played Firefist in hit “Deadpool 2,” even if he wasn’t technically old enough to see it in theaters. The New Zealand native gained notice in the Kiwi comedy “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” in 2016. Following “Deadpool 2,” Dennison was cast in the upcoming “Godzilla vs. King Kong.” Dennison says he’s happy to be at a stage in his career where he can take it anywhere he chooses in order to prove himself. “I want to do everything,” Dennison says. “I want to do more dramas and win awards and really show what I’m made of as an actor.”
The hard-working Brit, nominated last year for an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Independent Film Award for his role in “Beach Rats,” can be seen in FX series “Trust,” Fox’s sci-fi teen movie “The Darkest Minds” and Steve McLean’s “Postcards From London” this year. He’s currently shooting Disney’s “Maleficent 2” as Prince Phillip opposite Elle Fanning. “It’s interesting to be able to learn more with each role you take. Playing a prince is a stretch for me; there’s a regality and formality that definitely isn’t inherent in me.”
Fame isn’t something 16-year-old Eilish particularly wanted or sought, and yet here she is. “It varies,” she says. “It is great … and it is horrible.” The Los Angeles native comes from a family of actors and musicians, joined a choir at the age of 8, and began writing her own songs at 11. Yet it was a song written by her older brother, Finneas, that moved her into the fast lane: Eilish posted “Ocean Eyes” onto SoundCloud early in 2016, followed with a video in March, and by November the song had been re-released by major label Interscope. A nine-track EP, “Don’t Smile at Me,” followed in 2017. And while it can seem as if she’s been preparing for a career in music for all of her 16 years, “Well, I didn’t know I was, but I guess so,” she says. “I didn’t have any idea all of this would happen. I was just making music because I loved it.” Next up? She’s currently finishing up her debut album and preparing for a fall tour.
Elordi got his big break this summer as Noah Flynn in Netflix hit “The Kissing Booth”— the film Netflix boss Ted Sarandos says one in three viewers re-watch. “In hindsight, I think this movie struck a chord because it’s just pure enjoyment,” Elordi says. The Aussie, who grew up breaking down scripts like “Blue Valentine” for fun, will appear next in tearjerker “2 Hearts,” horror anthology series “The Mortuary Collection” and HBO ensemble drama “Euphoria.” “I got into that three weeks before ‘Kissing Booth’ got released, and it was my dream job straightaway. It’s like a cacophony of madness,” Elordi says of the series produced by Drake.
Darci Lynne Farmer
After becoming the youngest winner of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” at only 12 years old with the most votes in finale history, the now 13-year-old comedian, singer and ventriloquist began building off the momentum of her win with her Darci Lynne & Friends Live tour, which sold out in more than 40 cities. She is currently working on her upcoming holiday special, which features her family’s Christmas traditions. “I’m so super-duper excited for Christmas, it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m super-duper excited to show everyone what family does every year,” Farmer says.
Before Elsie Fisher landed her breakout role in Bo Burnham’s “Eighth Grade,” she felt somewhat disillusioned with acting — a 12-year-old still reading for nine-year-old parts. “It doesn’t sound like it, but that’s a pretty big mental gap,” she says. Then “Eighth Grade” gave her the opportunity to represent a generation — acne, anxiety, and all. “I think a lot of kids think their lives are boring — I know I did — and that maybe they’re not worthy of a movie,” Fisher says. “But maybe if they’re watching this, they can be like, ‘My life is actually interesting and worthy of being seen.’”
The rising UTA agent (digital/traditional) reps a large roster including Gregg Sulkin (“Marvel’s Runaways”) and guides high-profile digital stars’ careers. He helped digital native comedian Jay Versace secure T-Mobile, Canon, Nike, Sprite campaigns; steered Lauren Elizabeth to starring role in Awesomeness TV’s “Out of My League,” and landed digital media sensation Nash Grier a starring role in the Fullscreen series, “The Deleted,” from Bret Easton Ellis. “With the shift toward streaming and digital content, the ability to appeal to a loyal fanbase is more important now than ever. I work to leverage the gap between social and traditional media to create unique opportunities for talent.”
Alex J. Berliner/ABImages
Grace is only 12 years old, but her inspirations are timeless. The actress has grown up watching Shirley Temple and “The Pee Wee Herman Show,” dreaming of the silver screen. After nabbing her breakout role in “Gifted” alongside Octavia Spencer and Chris Evans, she has booked several projects, including “Captain Marvel,” “Troupe Zero” and her next appearance: “The Bad Seed” with Rob Lowe. She continues to look up to her older co-stars, like Spencer, who told her, “Acting should always be fun,” and Evans. “No offense to the other Avengers, but Captain America is my favorite,” Grace says.
Howard made her film debut in Josephine Decker’s “Madeline’s Madeline,” with a performance that electrified Sundance and Berlin audiences and critics. “I’m just glad that people are going out and supporting it,” she says. Howard always dreamed of being an actor — “When I was 3 I remember being onstage for a Christmas production and having a feeling that was unlike any feeling that a 3-year-old feels” — and was “discovered” by Decker at a school district arts festival. The director was taken aback by Howard’s monologue, they kept in touch and Howard workshopped the film with Decker and the other cast members. “Now I’m just focused on building a career and strengthening myself as an actor. Building a foundation and marking my mark. The concept of being able to portray different stories from screenwriters or playwrights is so captivating and beautiful and honest. Acting is not a hobby. It’s something I love.”
“Young people today are faced with all sorts of issues: Racial issues, gender issues, socio-economic issues,” says singer Khalid. “I’m growing up in a world where being yourself is not good enough for some people.” Call him a woke romantic, as the 20-year-old has emerged as the voice of a generation with his 2017 debut album, “American Teen,” and anthemic jams such as “Young, Dumb & Broke.” This unlikely prom king-turned-pop prodigy was nominated for five Grammys and headlined a tour of clubs. With the release of his sophomore album, Khalid seeks to graduate beyond his reputation as a high-school bard and prove that he’s most likely to succeed in the music industry: “I’m hard at work on it,” he says. “I’ve grown up and learned a lot since the release of ‘American Teen’ and all of those experiences are shaping my new music.” And he hasn’t ruled out a future foray into Hollywood, either. Adds Khalid: “Right now I’m really enjoying being a musician … using my voice and my words to hopefully inspire people. Never say never, though. I love all creative avenues.”
The search for Ti Moune for the “Once on This Island” revival was straight out of a movie, according to Kilgore, eventual star of the show. “I get really excited anytime anyone asks me to tell the story. It’s not something that you see in real life,” she says. A 2018 Tony nominee this year, Kilgore made her Broadway dreams come true earlier than she ever could have imagined. “I grew up in a small town and my parents were very realistic about the fact that there are not many leading lady roles for young African-American women. I don’t take anything for granted.” Kilgore aspires to do a major motion picture one day, perhaps for the House of Mouse. “The biggest thing I want to do is be a Disney princess. That would be the ideal.”
King thought “The Kissing Booth” was special from the start. “My reps and everyone were like, ‘Yeah, it’s cute.’ But I really believed in it,” she says. After the Netflix smash debuted, fans eagerly sought her out on Instagram, increasing her following from 600,000 to 6.5 million. She says that making a sequel is “definitely not out of the question for us.” While she hopes to eventually star in a musical movie a la “The Greatest Showman,” King has horror pic “Slender Man” in release currently, plus SXSW stunner “Summer ’03” and Blumhouse’s “Between the Earth and Sky” on her docket. She is set to begin shooting “The Bayou” with Gary Oldman and Dylan O’Brien soon. But what most excites King is producing and starring in “The In Between,” a love story she pitched to Paramount Players. “I literally can’t even get a complete sentence out because I’m so happy,” she says.
Victoria Kress and Jamie Pillet
Agents, Abrams Artists Agency
The dynamic team at Abrams Artists Agency’s New York office, theatrical department, have long nurtured rising talent and helped oversee the careers of young stars including Iain Armitage (“Young Sheldon”), Sophia Lillis (“Sharp Objects”), Ryan Jamaal Swain (“Pose”) and Hailey Kilgore (“Once on This Island”). Other clients on a hot streak include Jaden Michael (“Vampires vs. The Bronx”); Milly Shapiro (“Hereditary”); Shahadi Joseph (Jon Favreau’s “The Lion King,” Universal’s Jordan Peele pic “Us”); Jahi Winston (the upcoming “The Upside” with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart); Ben Ross (title role in touring “Dear Evan Hansen”); Fred Hechinger (just cast opposite Amy Adams in Fox’s “Woman in the Window”); and Parker Sevak (co-stars opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in Sundance hit “The Kindergarten Teacher”). “Our unwavering commitment is to curate, nurture and drive successful, sustainable careers that will grow alongside these brilliant young artists,” says Kress. Adds Pillet: “The talent level and work ethic I’ve seen in our remarkable young actors is truly inspiring.”
Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Asher Angel, and Sofia Wylie
Season two of Disney’s “Andi Mack” made history as the network’s first show to incorporate an LGBT storyline; for that, it won the 2018 inaugural GLAAD Media Award. A big part of the series’ ratings success are the young leads. Angel (Jonah) just released his new single, “Chemistry,” and his music video has more than 2.6 million views. “Filming it with Annie [Le Blanc] was so fun and I loved the cool ‘Smooth Criminal’ vibe to it; it was awesome.” Angel will soon be seen on the big screen in DC’s “Shazam!” Wylie (Buffy) supports the strides the series is making in diversity. “I didn’t see myself represented [in media] a lot when I was younger, so it’s cool that we’re able to represent so many types of people and inspire kids.” She is starring in her first movie, “Back of the Net.” Lee is the titular Andi Mack. She says the cast does everything together: “We’re constantly having fun. I think that’s part of the reason why the show has been so popular; you can see our love for one another. I feel like it comes across on screen.” Lee hopes that the show helps viewers feel less alone.
Lillis has had quite the year with the role of Beverly Marsh in the big screen adaptation of “It” and small-screen adaptation of “Sharp Objects.” The actress, who has studied her craft at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute, is deeply focused on the collaboration between directors and actors and is always looking for a role that is “a little challenging but something that I can grow and learn from.” She counts Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek among some of her acting inspirations, the latter whom she notes went to the same acting school and “learned the same things as me in the same way,” which inspires her that someday she’ll have as storied a career as Spacek. Lillis is also passionate about drawing and says she is never without a pad on set, which helps her focus, whether she’s working on a genre piece like the sequel to “It” or lighter fare such as “Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase,” both of which she has coming out soon.
Lipa has already conquered Europe, but 2018 was the year when the pop singer finally made it in America. The English vocalist, who’s signed to Warner Bros. Records in the U.S. and managed by London-based TAP, cracked the radio code with two solo smashes (“New Rules” and “IDGAF”) and one strong featured guest turn on Calvin Harris’ sultry “One Kiss.” Although “New Rules” was released last fall, it wasn’t until January that Lipa made the Top 10 in the States. Six months later, the tune was certified triple-platinum. “IDGAF,” meanwhile, has racked up over half a billion Spotify streams. Expect more in the way of hits on the 23-year-old’s follow-up album, due out in 2019, on which she’s working with Swedish hitmaker Max Martin. In the meantime, look for the debut of Lipa’s anticipated clothing collaboration with H&M-owned brand /Nyden, expected this winter.
London-born singer-songwriter Mai found herself with a surprise smash in the United States this summer when her 1990s-influenced R&B track, “Boo’d Up,” entered the top five on Billboard’s Hot 100. The song, first released by 10 Summers/Interscope Records in 2017, was such an afterthought for the artist, she didn’t even have it on her setlist while opening for Kehlani — until fans started asking for it by name. By 2018, the buzzing DJ Mustard-produced single was racking up streams on Spotify, and by summer, it was inescapable. “This has been an amazing year and it’s crazy because it’s just the beginning,” she says. So what’s next for the 23-year-old? “Trip,” Mai’s follow-up to “Boo’d Up,” dropped this month and boasts a similar, sultry feel. A full album is expected this fall and the singer is no longer the opening act: Mai’s Boo’d Up Tour is currently underway across America, with nearly all dates sold out. Adds Mai: “I can’t wait for all the fans that have been with me from the beginning to hear the new music I’ve been working on for so long.”
The New Zealander stars in the intense Sundance hit “Leave No Trace,” directed by Debra Granik (“Winter’s Bone”), opposite Ben Foster — the film currently boasts a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes — and also toplines Taika Waititi’s upcoming WWII dramedy “Jojo Rabbit” opposite Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell for Fox Searchlight. She will also appear in David Michod’s “The King” alongside Timothee Chalamet, and in Justin Kurzel’s “The True History of the Kelly Gang,” plus Joseph Kosinski’s big-budget “Top Gun: Marverick” for Paramount. “I feel incredibly lucky to be working with such thrilling directorial voices, telling stories I believe in,” she says. “My mantra as an actor is to throw my heart into my work and hopefully shed some light along the way.”
From Migos to Future, Post Malone, Gucci Mane and 21 Savage, a startling number of the biggest hitmakers in hip-hop have one element in common: the prodigious beatmaking of 24-year-old Metro Boomin. A Memphis native, the young Metro (born Leland Tyler Wayne) spent his high school years commuting back and forth to Atlanta in his mother’s car to work with rappers, and by the time he was old enough to drink he was already firmly ensconced in rap radio’s top tier. Winner of two consecutive producer of the year awards from both BET and BMI, Metro was behind the boards for multiple tracks on Migos, Nicki Minaj and Rae Sremmurd’s latest full-lengths, and has released two collaborative albums with Big Sean and Offset/21 Savage.
Upcoming projects for the Toronto Film Festival Rising Star (for his work on “Never Steady, Never Still,”) include “Genesis” by Philippe Lesage, and Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased” opposite Lucas Hedges that will be released this fall. He will also be in the upcoming season of Netflix’s “The OA” and begins shooting “Weetzie Bat,” the film adaptation of Francesca Lia Block’s cult novel, directed by Justin Kelly, this fall. “I just want to still be learning in five years, to still be curious and challenged and have fun,” he says. “And I want brilliant roles and scripts and people in my life.”
While making “All the Money in the World,” Christopher Plummer would tease the younger Plummer about their shared last name. “He had this little joke where he was really upset with me, saying that I had stolen his name and that I was trying to take over his throne,” he recalls. Not only did the 19-year-old play the kidnapped Getty heir in Ridley Scott’s thriller this past year, he also made waves in Andrew Haigh’s “Lean on Pete.” “I’m a pretty passionate person, but there’s only been a few times where I’ve read something and thought that I have to be a part of it,” he says of his zest for the film. Plummer’s upcoming slew of features like “Behold My Heart,” “The Clovehitch Killer,” “Spontaneous,” “Gully” and “Words on Bathroom Walls” span genre, but the Mark Rylance devotee kids that the running theme for his character portrayals is that “they’re all weird and complicated, man.”
Sundholm Magnus/action press/REX
There’s a deceptive casualness to Malone’s persona that figures into why he has so many detractors as well as millions of devout fans: he’s too much the Everyman — or Everyrapper — to seem like he’s even striving for the brass ring. But he’s getting it anyway. The 23-year-old Texan just won Song of the Year for “Rockstar” at the VMAs, a minor plaudit compared to some of the records he’s broken in the last year, including a streaming benchmark for his “Beerbongs & Bentleys” album (although that record has already been re-broken by Drake). His tour sold more than 350,000 tickets, including two sold-out nights at the Hollywood Bowl. Why fans flock: It’s not (just) the conspicuous consumption and stoner tropes. He’s really a sensitive, heart-on-sleeve emo-rocker trapped in a hip-hopper’s hard-partying body.
Willem Dafoe may have given the young “Florida Project” breakout wise acting advice, but Prince taught Dafoe how to play Thumb War. “I shouldn’t have taught him that well because then he ended up winning,” Prince says, who just booked Apple’s upcoming untitled Hilde Lysiak series from John M. Chu. Her latest appearance will be alongside Finn Wolfhard and Mackenzie Davis in “The Turning,” directed by Floria Sigismondi, who inspires Prince to dream big in an industry where “a lot of directors are boys.” “She made me want to become the first little girl director because she was amazing,” she says.
British actress and singer-songwriter Pugh has been busy — she was in the 2018 film “The Commuter” starring Liam Neeson, just wrapped “Fighting With My Family” with Dwayne Johnson and will soon be seen in Netflix’s “Outlaw King” opposite Chris Pine. Pugh will also star in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” remake alongside Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Timothee Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan. The 22-year-old won best actress at the 2017 British International Film Awards for her performance in “Lady Macbeth.” The multi-talented performer is set to star in “Hereditary” director Ari Aster’s next film, which A24 is producing.
Robinson, who first made a name for herself in the hit BET drama “Being Mary Jane,” is having a big year thanks to two very successful television shows. She stars as Nia, Raven’s smart and socially-conscious 11-year-old daughter, in Disney Channel’s series “Raven’s Home,” a spin-off from the iconic sitcom “That’s So Raven.” She can also be seen in the Netflix Emmy award-winning series “Free Rein,” with the second season now streaming. “They’re two completely different roles that have helped teach me so much as an actor,” she says. “My dream is to play a protagonist in a Marvel film.”
In 2017, the 15-year-old actress starred in two films that unspooled at the Cannes festival: Lynne Ramsay’s “You Were Never Really Here,” in which she co-stars with Joaquin Phoenix, and Todd Haynes’ “Wonderstruck.” It was a heady year for such a young and relatively inexperienced actress. On “Here,” which dealt with dark themes, the cast kept the mood light on set. “It felt like we were filming a comedy; we were laughing all the time,” says Samsonov, who started modeling at just 2 years old. She recently collaborated with French luxury brand Kenzo. “I’ve been doing it since before I can remember, it’s something I’m used to now, it just feels right,” she says. She dreams of being featured in a Chanel campaign one day.
The Australian actress’ inspired turn as Amma Crellin opposite Amy Adams and Patricia Clarkson in HBO’s critically acclaimed “Sharp Objects” won her a lot of attention. And now Scanlen has just been cast as Beth March in Greta Gerwig’s star-studded adaptation of “Little Women” for Sony, opposite Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan, Timothee Chalamet and Florence Pugh. “I’m passionate and curious about all elements of filmmaking, as well as theater,” she says. “Acting will always be my first love, but I have become more and more interested in the writing process. I think my one goal is to be a part of sharing important stories.”
Shahidi may be equally as well known for her activism offscreen as she is for her work onscreen in “Black-ish” and “Grown-ish.” Some of Shahidi’s community service work includes starting the student empowerment organization Yara’s Club and the voter initiative Eighteenx18. Shahidi believes Hollywood has the power to “normalize culture,” and she’s dedicated to breaking the mold. “Culture is something that has infinite impact, so because we have this platform and this platform is oftentimes people’s first touchpoint — not only with a certain type of human, but with a certain issue — it’s important that we remain open-minded to pushing the narrative.”
Shipka spent seven seasons on AMC’s “Mad Men,” literally growing up in front of the camera, and has successfully transitioned to more mature roles in “Feud” and “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.” “My philosophy was always to never be in a rush,” Shipka says; but it was also important to her to maintain a “normal childhood” outside of her job. Valuing her time off-set, Shipka “went to school dances, took tennis and taekwondo, did theater and
hung out with my friends a lot,” and advises other young actors to similarly do whatever they can to “have a full life experience.” When it comes to choosing roles, she looks for projects from which she can take “valuable, positive things,” as well as ones that will help her set a good example. “I’m really excited to play this part, particularly because I think she’s such a strong young girl, and I think it’s important for as many of those roles as possible to be put out there,” she says of Sabrina.
Winner of the prestigious BBC Sound of 2018 — a U.K. award that has gone to Adele, Haim and Sam Smith — Norwegian native Sigrid gained global recognition covering Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” for last year’s “Justice League” soundtrack. “It was equally challenging and easy,” she says. “You don’t want to mess up such a great song.” Sigrid’s already achieved worldwide recognition with songs like “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and “Strangers,” releasing a pair of EPs on Island Records and a full-length debut in the works. “I thought there was some potential in my music,” she says. “But what I was dreaming about and what’s happening now are two completely different things. It’s really very cool.” An anthem for female self-empowerment in the #MeToo age, “Don’t Kill My Vibe” finds Sigrid lashing back at a pair of older male producers who belittled her in the studio. “I’m happy I got something good out of something bad,” she says.
What is perhaps most remarkable about Smith isn’t that she’s a precociously talented singer, or that she had duetted with both Drake and Kendrick Lamar and opened a major North American tour for Bruno Mars before she’d even released her debut album. It’s that the young Brit did it all before she was 21 years old. “Lost & Found,” released in June, is a combination of classic and contemporary sounds, mixing Amy Winehouse, Sade and a little bit of Erykah Badu. “I listened to so much music growing up from my parents just always playing music in the house,” she tells Variety. “My biggest influences are Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone, Damien Marley and Nas.” She began writing her own songs at 11 and uploaded her first song, “Blue Lights,” to SoundCloud when she was 17. In England, she’s already a star — the album debuted at No. 3 on the British charts and is one of just two debuts on the shortlist for the country’s prestigious Mercury Prize. Smith will start her first major headlining North American tour in November.
Ryan Jamaal Swain
When Swain was in ninth grade, he had to prepare a monologue and audition in an after-school program called Make It Happen Youth Ensemble. “It was the first time where I felt seen,” he says. He chose to focus his work there on Harry Belafonte, whose career as a performer and social activist is one Swain has tried to emulate since. His role on “Pose” has allowed marginalized people of color the chance to see themselves fully “imagined and realized” on television, and he is also working on a teen fiction book about a “youth figuring out the highs and lows being from the South, being black and being queer.” “I’m all about providing conduits for deep traumatic healing for LGBTQ youth and youth of color,” he says. Of utmost importance to him when not performing is his work with It Gets Better, The Trevor Project and Stonewall Inn Gives Back.
The much-in-demand actress has had a breakthrough year, starring in both HBO’s miniseries “Sharp Objects” and the critically acclaimed second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale” as Eden. She is also filming the teen comedy “Big Time Adolescence” opposite Pete Davidson, is about to start shooting HBO’s drama “Euphoria,” and will appear in David Robert Mitchell’s neo-noir “Under the Silver Lake,” to be released by A24 in December. “I love doing it all — TV, movies — and to keep challenging myself and playing as many different characters as possible. I’d love to write and direct as well.”
Internet comedian Versace, 20, first rose to fame as one of Vine’s most popular stars, accumulating more than 3 million followers and 2 billion views on the social media platform before it shut down in early 2017. He currently has 3.5 million followers on Instagram and 780,000 followers on YouTube, and co-starred in online series “The Commute” for two seasons. Versace made the headlines in 2016 for coming out to his Snapchat followers as free from sexuality labels, something he said he hopes inspires some of his fans. “I want to love people that I’m interested in and I don’t think I need to be defined by this one specific thing,” Versace says. “I want all my fans to be whoever they want to be and to not be afraid of that.”
Zeile has garnered critical and popular acclaim for her breakthrough role as teenage Kate Pearson on the NBC hit “This Is Us.” Season three premieres Sept. 25. (Interestingly, Chrissy Metz, who plays the adult Kate Pearson, was once worked at the agency that repped Zeile.) Other recent credits include “The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale.” She appeared in a recurring role on FX’s “Anger Management.” “I love my job and I love all the people I work with,” she says. “As for my future, I rely on God’s plan. I believe if I continue to work hard and remain passionate, then things will happen how they are meant to.”
Up Next: Tyler Alvarez
The 20-year-old native New Yorker has become a break-out star thanks to his lead role in Netflix’s Emmy-nominated true-crime satire “American Vandal,” which recently dropped its season two trailer. Alvarez, whose credits include story arcs on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” and on the Freeform series “The Fosters,” has two independent features currently in post-production: He has a starring role opposite Juno Temple and Jane Levy in “The Pretenders,” directed by James Franco, and co-stars in the drama “John Henry” opposite Terry Crews and Ludacris. “I’d like to take on roles that challenge me and encourage me to explore areas within myself,” he says.
Up Next: Paris Berelc
The star of the Emmy-nominated Netflix series “Alexa & Katie” has won kudos for her comedic but nuanced portrayal of Alexa, a teenager diagnosed with cancer. “This [past] season we focused more on high school issues teenagers go through in real life, and I feel like the audience will be able to relate to all of the characters,” she says. Previously a staple of the Disney Channel, she was cast as Disney XD’s first female superhero, Skylar Storm, in the hit series “Mighty Med,” reprised the role in the spinoff “Lab Rats: Elite Force” and also starred in the Disney comedy “Invisible Sister.” Season two of hit “Alexa & Katie” has been greenlighted by Netflix.
Up Next: Zoe Colletti
Colletti just booked the lead of CBS Films’ “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” (based off the book of the same name) with Guillermo del Toro producing, and has two films at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival this year: Paul Dano’s directorial debut “Wildlife” with Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal, which earned strong reviews in Sundance; and Guy Nattiv’s “Skin,” opposite Jamie Bell, playing Danielle Macdonald’s on-screen daughter. “Working with Paul Dano and Jamie Bell really helped me to develop confidence and the ability to trust my instincts when it comes to the characters I’m portraying,” she says. “I am so thrilled to be taking on the role of Stella in ‘Scary Stories.’”
Up Next: Pixie Davies
The versatile Brit will next be seen starring as Annabel Banks opposite Emily Blunt in the highly anticipated Disney release “Mary Poppins Returns.” She was a series regular on AMC’s “Humans,” which just finished airing its final season, and Tim Burton directed her in Fox’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” “I love the buzz of being on set and meeting new people,” she says. “It’s always such a team effort to make a character and the story come alive.”
Up Next: Priah Ferguson
She may have only been given small scenes when cast in season two of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” but that didn’t stop her from stealing them. She has landed roles on FX series “Atlanta” and PBS scripted series “Mercy Street.” Next up she appears in “The Oath” starring Tiffany Haddish and is “writing a concept for a documentary,” she says. “I’m working to become a well-respected actress with a variety of projects. But I also want to write, cast, and ultimately open an acting studio for children in underserved communities.”
Up Next: Mackenzie Foy
After co-starring in such high profile films as “The Twilight Saga” franchise and “Interstellar,” Foy next stars as lead character Clara, alongside Keira Knightley, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and ballerina Misty Copeland, in the Disney live-action film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” out on Nov. 2. “Playing Clara was incredibly fun, as she’s a complicated character,” she says. “Finding all of her layers was a challenge that I really enjoyed. I also loved using a British accent.” The actress’ credits include Paramount’s “The Little Prince” and “Wish You Well.”
Up Next: Aidan Gallagher
Nickelodeon’s “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn” star looks to break out in the upcoming Netflix show “The Umbrella Academy,” based on the popular comic book. “I play a 58-year-old time-traveling assassin who’s stuck in a 13-year-old body,” he says. “It’s such an honor to bring this character to life from the graphic novel. It’s dramatic, comedic and action-packed.” A fervent environmental activist, he is a youth advocate for Waterkeeper Alliance, Physician’s Committee, Oceanic Preservation Society and Vulcan Prods., and was also recently designated as a North American Goodwill Ambassador for UN Environment, the youngest ambassador in the UN system. “I believe that if today’s youth work together raising our collective voice, we can effect positive environmental change.”
Up Next: Jack Gore
It’s been a huge year for Gore, who just wrapped Netflix’s “Rim of the World.” Prior to that, he shot ABC’s “The Kids Are Alright,” premiering in September, starred opposite Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan in “Ideal Home,” appeared on the Amazon series “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams,” had a recurring role on Showtime’s “Billions,” played Kate Winslet’s son in “Wonder Wheel,” and voiced Young Valiente in Fox’s animated “Ferdinand.” “One day, I hope to work with Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Amy Adams and Jim Carrey,” he says.
Up Next: Michael Epps, Alex Hibbert, and Shamon Brown
The trio are all breakout stars on the hit Showtime drama series “The Chi,” where they’re currently working on season two as series regulars. The show was Epps’ first big break.“I’m so happy to be part of a popular television series that is all about my city. I’d love to get a big role in a popular action movie like ‘Transformers’ or ‘The Fast and the Furious.’ ” Brown’ says, “I’d like to be a lead in films and television shows, and work with Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Tyler Perry, and do voiceovers in animated series.” Hibbert’s screen debut in Barry Jenkins’ Oscar winner “Moonlight” scored a Critics Choice nomination for best young actor; he appeared in Marvel’s blockbuster “Black Panther” and wants “to work with Andrew Garfield, Denzel Washington and many more big actors in the business, and maybe win an Oscar, Golden Globe and more.”
Up Next: Josephine Langford
She landed the a lead role in “After,” the film adaptation of Anna Todd’s bestseller “Working on ‘After’ has been an amazing experience with such a fun and dedicated cast and crew,” she says. “We can’t wait to share the movie with everyone, especially the fans, who have been following the book and now the film for so long.”
Up Next: Xolo Maridueña
The star of YouTube Red’s highest-performing show to date is on fire. “‘Cobra Kai’ is like taking the best acting class ever,” he says. “I get the opportunity to play comedy, drama, and even a little fantasy.”
Mark Von Holden/Variety/REX/Shut
Up Next: Isabel May
The Katie half of the Netflix teen comedy “Alexa and Katie” is the quirky and funny best friend to Alexa, who has leukemia, so the girls must deal with being high school freshmen as well as health issues. May notes that her favorite aspect of Katie is her optimism. “It’s nice to be able to portray someone who is very happy and wants the best for everyone,” she says.
Up Next: JD McCrary
The triple threat is set to star as Young Simba in Disney’s upcoming “The Lion King,” stars on “The Paynes,” has been cast in Universal’s comedy “Little,” and was recently signed by Disney/Hollywood Records. He made his primetime debut on the Grammys performing “Terrified” with Childish Gambino. He says: “I would love to star in a Marvel movie, win a Grammy and an Oscar, produce my own series, direct and graduate at age 16.”
Up Next: Azhy Robertson
Robertson has already built up an impressive resume. He recently shot a Noah Baumbach feature, starred in “Juliet, Naked,” played Julianne Moore and Billy Crudup’s son in the upcoming “After the Wedding,” and had a recurring role on FX’s hit series “The Americans.” He was tapped as the lead in Amblin’s feature “Larry.” “In the future I want to be in more different kinds of movies,” he says. “Some action, some comedy, some dramas.”
Up Next: Charlie Shotwell
Shotwell has already played a variety of roles in films like “The Glass Castle” and “All the Money in the World,” and now he has three more on the docket: “Eli,” “Troupe Zero” and “Nightingale,” for which he learned a Cockney accent. “I feel really proud of that accent performance,” Shotwell says. In his limited free time, Shotwell enjoys writing stories — a hobby that may someday evolve into a screenwriting career.
Up Next: Sadie Sink
She was “Annie” in the 2013 Broadway revival, Max in “Stranger Things,” and played opposite Helen Mirren in “The Audience.” She next appears in Paramount’s horror film “Eli.” “One of the biggest challenges of a horror film, as many of the scenes require heavy visual effects, is pretending to be scared at something that’s not even there,” she says.
Up Next: Mina Sundwall
She stars as Penny Robinson in Netflix’s hit “Lost in Space” and is currently shooting season two in Vancouver. “For the next six months I will be balancing filming and my senior year of high school, and after ‘Lost in Space’ I’d really like to do an independent or foreign film,” she says. “I especially love the different narrative styles and pacing of French, Japanese and Danish films.”
Up Next: Charlie Tahan
A series regular on Netflix’s “Ozark,” the New Jersey native is shooting “Poms” with Diane Keaton and Jacki Weaver, and has Nicole Holofcener’s “The Land of Steady Habits” on tap. He says: “I have been so lucky in my career and with the people I have worked with, and I look forward to future projects.”
Andrew H. Walker/REX/Shutterstoc
Up Next: Myles Truitt
Truitt plays the lead — an adopted teenager searching for connection — in Lionsgate’s actioner “Kin.” “It’s been so cool to be a part of such an amazing movie for my first feature film,” he says. He’ll also be seen in S. Craig Zahler’s “Dragged Across Concrete” opposite Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, bowing at Venice. On the TV side, he co-stars on OWN’s “Queen Sugar” and the CW’s “Black Lightning.”
Alumni Update: Iain Armitage
The star of the CBS hit “Young Sheldon” will reprise his role on HBO’s “Big Little Lies.”
Alumni Update: Millie Bobby Brown
The “Stranger Things” star nabbed her second Emmy acting nom in a row this year.
Alumni Update: Dove Cameron
She’s shooting the third installment of the Disney Channel hit “Descendants.”
Alumni Update: Timothee Chalamet
He nabbed an Oscar nom for “Call Me by Your Name” and has “Beautiful Boy” on tap.
Alumni Update: Liza Koshy
She stars in scripted YouTube series “Liza on Demand,” and is hosting Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” and MTV’s “TRL.”
Alumni Update: Gaten Matarazzo
The “Stranger Things” star had his own emotional storyline to deal with in season two.
Alumni Update: Julia Michaels
The hitmaker for others released her own “Nervous System” to critical acclaim.
Alumni Update: Hari Nef
Nef will be seen in Sam Levinson’s “Assassination Nation” and Lifetime series “You.”
Alumni Update: Lele Pons
Pons will host the next season of “La Voz,” Mexico’s hit version of “The Voice” and signed with Universal Music Group.
Alumni Update: Joshua Rush
On “Andi Mack,” Rush played the first out character on a Disney Channel show. A third season is in the cards.
Alumni Update: Noah Schnapp
“Stranger Things” gave Schnapp a chance to deliver a powerhouse perf in season two.
Alumni Update: Millicent Simmonds
The deaf actress blew aways auds in hit the spring hit “A Quiet Place.” A sequel is planned.
Alumni Update: Hailee Steinfeld
Her single “Let Me Go” was a global hit, she toured with Charlie Puth and also managed to film “Bumblebee.”
Alumni Update: Jacob Tremblay
Tremblay starred in 2017 hit “Wonder” ($305 million worldwide) while his film slate includes Shane Black’s “The Predator” to Xavier Dolan’s “The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.”
Sundholm Magnus/action press/REX
Alumni Update: Finn Wolfhard
Wolfhard once again showed off his leadership skills in season two of “Stranger Things.” Last year, he starred in blockbuster “It,” and is reprising his role in the sequel; he’s also filming John Crowley’s adaptation of Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch.”