It seems the entertainment industry is starved of diversity for many movie and TV show fans nowadays. But a certain demographic of talent is proving they want that to change. Hollywood has seen a recent surge of talented, young Black actors who are not only breaking into the industry, but also leaving a lasting impact with their incredible performances.

These actors bring a fresh perspective to storytelling, showcasing their immense talent and versatility. These Black actors have gone above and beyond what is expected from youth or really anyone in entertainment. They have managed to succeed in an industry where it is expected that actors that look like them have to work twice as hard. These actors have not only overcome these odds, but they have done so while advocating for each other. Here is a list of fifteen young Black actors that are changing the game and leaving their mark on an industry that needs talent like them. 

Olivia Washington (Born: April 10, 1991)

Olivia Washington is an emerging actress in Hollywood who is steadily gaining recognition for her work in film and television. Born in Los Angeles, California, she is the daughter of renowned actor Denzel Washington and his wife, Pauletta Washington. Growing up in a family deeply rooted in the entertainment industry, Washington was exposed to the world of acting from a young age. Later in life she attended Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, where she pursued her passion for acting and honed her craft.

Washington has appeared in various films, including supporting roles in independent and mainstream productions. Her filmography includes titles like Sorry for Your Loss (2018), The Little Things (2021), where she starred alongside her father, A Holiday in Harlem (2021) and Breaking (2022). She has also made appearances in television series  including roles in shows like Empire and Mr. Robot

While Washington’s career is still developing, her talent and dedication to acting are evident. With her family’s legacy in the entertainment industry and her own commitment to paving her own path, she is likely to continue making strides in her acting career.

Zazie Beetz (Born: June 1, 1991)

Zazie Beetz was born to a German father and an African-American mother. She grew up in Germany and later moved to New York City to pursue her acting career. She rose to fame with her breakthrough role as Vanessa “Van” Keefer in the critically acclaimed FX series Atlanta, created by Donald Glover. Her portrayal of Van, the on-and-off girlfriend of Glover’s character, earned her widespread recognition and praise for her authenticity and emotional depth. 

Beetz found even more success once she entered the immensely popular world of superhero films. She played the character Domino Deadpool 2, a mutant mercenary with luck-manipulating abilities. Her portrayal added a layer of intrigue and humor to the film, solidifying her status as a rising star in Hollywood. One year later, Beetz played the character Sophie Dumond in the dark and gritty film Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular character. 

Beetz’s career has continued to thrive with her involvement in multiple film and television projects like The Harder They Fall, Full Circle, and more expected from her respective superhero movie roles. 

LaKeith Stanfield (Born: August 12, 1991)

LaKeith Stanfield is an acclaimed actor known for his exceptional performances in both film and television. Born in San Bernardino, California, he has gained recognition for his talent, versatility and commitment to his craft. Stanfield began his acting career in his hometown of San Bernardino. The role that first gained Stanfield attention was his role as Marcus in the critically acclaimed independent film Short Term 12. The film, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, explored the lives of troubled teenagers in a residential treatment facility.

One of Strainfield’s biggest roles includes his pivotal role as Andre Hayworth in Jordan Peele’s groundbreaking horror film Get Out. This critically and commercially successful film thrusted Strainfield into the spotlight as millions appreciated his performance as the bizarre and eerie character. Additionally, Stanfield was nominated for various accolades for other roles such as Darius Epps in the popular FX series Atlanta, created by Donald Glover, and his performance as William “Bill” O’Neal, an FBI informant infiltrating the Black Panther Party, in Judas and the Black Messiah (for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor).

In addition to his acting career, LaKeith Stanfield is a musician and rapper. He has released music under the moniker “Htiekal” and collaborated with other artists in the industry. New acting gigs and musical projects from Stanfield  to look out for are continuously dropping. 

Kiki Layne (Born: December 10, 1991)

Kiki Layne is a Cininnati born and bred actor. She attended DePaul University’s Theatre School in Chicago, where she honed her acting skills and her formal training laid the foundation for her future success in the entertainment industry. Layne gained widespread recognition and critical acclaim for her breakthrough starring role as Tish Rivers in Barry Jenkins’ film adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel, If Beale Street Could Talk. Her performance as a young woman fighting to prove her fiancé’s innocence in a racially charged legal battle earned her numerous award nominations and solidified her as a rising star. 

In an opposite direction to this breakthrough role, Layne had another big role in the highly anticipated sequel, Coming 2 America, where she played Princess Meeka Joffer, the daughter of Eddie Murphy’s character. Her role in the comedy added a contemporary and fresh perspective to the beloved franchise. Layne has also lent her talent in other varying genres like Don’t Worry Darling (2022), The Old Guard (2020), Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022) and more. 

Nabiyah Be (Born: August 15, 1992)

Nabiyah Be is an emerging actress and singer-songwriter known for her work in both film and music. While she is not as widely recognized as some of the established Hollywood actors, she has made notable contributions to the entertainment industry.

Be was born in Salvador, State of Bahia, Brazil and is daughter to Jamaican singer and reggae pioneer, Jimmy Cliff. She gained significant attention in the acting world fairly recently for her role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film Black Panther. She portrayed Tilda Johnson, also known as the villainous character Nightshade. Her character was part of the underground criminal world of Wakanda, and her performance added depth to the film’s narrative. Her brief filmography also includes impressive roles such as Bella in the short film White Wedding (2021), and Simone Jackson in TV series Daisy Jones & The Six (2023). 

In addition to her acting endeavors, Be is a talented singer-songwriter like her father. She has released music as a recording artist, and her music is known for its eclectic blend of genres, including soul, R&B and funk.

Kofi Siriboe (Born: March 2, 1994)

Kofi Siriboe comes from a diverse cultural background, with Ghanaian, Armenian and American heritage. He grew up in Los Angeles and developed an interest in acting from a young age, inspired by his father’s career as a stage actor. Siriboe’s breakthrough role came with his portrayal of Ralph Angel Bordelon in the critically acclaimed television drama series “Queen Sugar.” Created by Ava DuVernay and executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey, the show revolves around the lives of the Bordelon siblings and their efforts to maintain their family’s sugarcane farm. Kofi’s authentic and emotionally charged performance as Ralph Angel earned him praise from both critics and audiences.

In addition to acting, Siriboe has also shown he is passionate about advocating for mental health awareness, particularly in the Black community. He has used his platform to raise awareness about the importance of addressing mental health issues and breaking down the stigma associated with them. If that was not enough, he is known for his distinctive fashion sense and style as well. Siriboe has been featured in fashion magazines and is considered a style icon in the entertainment industry.

As Kofi Siriboe continues to take on challenging roles and use his platform to advocate for important causes, he is poised to make a lasting impact in the entertainment industry.

Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Born: July 23, 1994)

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Kelvin Harrison Jr. grew up in a creative and artistic family. His mother was a professional pianist, and his father was a classically trained musician. This upbringing in a musically inclined household likely contributed to his early interest in the arts. Flash forward to 2022, Harrison has created a successful career in entertainment and is the lead in the musical period film Chevalier, the story of the famous composer known throughout history as “The Black Mozart,” Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Before his success in Chevalier, Harrison Jr. gained widespread recognition for his starring role as Tyler Williams in the drama film “Waves.” Directed by Trey Edward Shults, the film follows the life of a suburban African American family, and Kelvin’s portrayal of the complex and emotionally charged character earned him critical acclaim. With other projects under his belt including Luce (2019), The Photograph (2020), Cyrano (2021) and more, Harrison Jr. is likely to make a lasting impact on the world of film and television.

Ayo Edebiri (Born: April 30, 1995)

Ayo Edebiri is an emerging talent in the entertainment industry known for her work as a comedian, writer and actress. This Boston born, NYU alum first emerged in the comedy world as a stand-up comedian on Comedy Central’s Up Next in 2014 and has continued to have success since. Some of her biggest roles to date include her joining the cast of Netflix’s Big Mouth as one of the main characters, Missy, in 2020, playing Sydney from Hulu’s The Bear and most recently, playing Josie in the new hit comedy movie Bottoms. This hilarious and talented actress has garnered thousands of fans in her less than 10 years long career and is proving she is here to stay in the world of comedy.  

Jharrel Jerome (Born: October 9, 1997)

Jharrel Jerome is a talented actor from the Bronx who has gained widespread recognition and critical acclaim for his performances in film and television. Jerome gained widespread recognition for his role in the critically acclaimed film Moonlight. He portrayed Kevin, one of the key characters in the movie, which explores themes of identity, sexuality and self-discovery. Moonlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture and received widespread acclaim for its storytelling and performances, including Jereome’s.

Jerome’s breakout role came in the Netflix miniseries When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay. He portrayed Korey Wise, one of the five wrongfully convicted teenagers known as the Central Park Five. Jerome’s performance as Korey was met with critical acclaim and earned him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. This young, Black actor has solidified his reputation as being capable of tackling complex and emotionally charged roles and continues to do so now with current projects. These projects include Prime Video’s I’m a Virgo, Max’s Full Circle, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and more.  

Lovie Simone (Born: November 29, 1998)

Lovie Simone is a talented, young actor from NYC who has been making waves in the entertainment industry with her compelling performances and dedication to her “craft” (pun intended as she appeared in the supernatural horror film The Craft: Legacy, a sequel to the 1996 cult classic The Craft.). She has quickly gained recognition for her work on both the big and small screens. 

Simone’s breakout role came when she was cast as Zora Greenleaf in the popular drama series Greenleaf. The show, created by Craig Wright, revolves around the lives of the Greenleaf family, who run a megachurch in Memphis, Tennessee. Simone’s character, Zora, goes through various challenges and transformations throughout the series, showcasing her acting talent.

In 2019, Simone starred in the independent film Selah and The Spades. Directed by Tayarisha Poe, the film explores the power dynamics within a prestigious boarding school’s student body. Simone’s portrayal of the titular character, Selah, earned her critical acclaim for her performance. 

Caleb McLaughlin (Born: October 13, 2001)

Caleb McLaughlin is a name known by millions as the young actor gained fame for his portrayal of Lucas Sinclair in the hit series Stranger Things. McLaughlin grew up in Carmel, New York where he has shown his acting prowess since he was in grade school. Now he has found immense success and has received nominations for various awards for his work on Stranger Things, including recognition at the Screen Actors Guild Awards as part of the ensemble cast. McLaughlin continues to shine in Hollywood with his work on recent projects such as the 2020 critically acclaimed film Concrete Cowboy alongside Idris Elba, Shooting Stars (2023), Amazon’s The Boys Presents: Diabolical and more.

Asante Blackk (Born: October 20, 2001)

Asante Blackk is a talented, young actor from Maryland with a musical background as his mom is a singer and his dad is a percussionist. Asante Blackk made a significant breakthrough in his acting career with his role in the critically acclaimed Netflix miniseries When They See Us. The series, created by Ava DuVernay, tells the true story of the Central Park Five, a group of young Black and Latino men wrongly convicted of a brutal assault in Central Park in 1989. Asante portrayed Kevin Richardson, one of the wrongfully accused teenagers. His performance was widely praised for its emotional depth and authenticity. Since that breakout role, he has continued work in advocacy for criminal justice reform, as well as other acting roles in tv shows and movies including This Is Us, The Proud Family, Story Ave and more.

Storm Reid (Born: July 1, 2003)

Storm Reid is an actor from Atlanta, Georgia who has gained recognition for her versatile acting abilities and promising career. Reid started her career as a kid with small roles in television shows and commercials. A breakout role of hers happened when she starred as Meg Murry in Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay. Reid’s portrayal of Meg, a young girl on a journey through time and space to rescue her father, showcased her acting talent and earned her critical acclaim. 

More recently, Reid has impressed critics and audiences alike with her role in the hit HBO series Euphoria. She played Gia Bennett, the younger sister of the series’ protagonist, Rue, portrayed by Zendaya and showed the world a new side and skill level of her acting abilities. Reid’s talent but also commitment to diversity and inclusion have made her a role model for young actors and a notable figure in Hollywood. Her future in the entertainment industry looks bright, and she is likely to continue making a significant impact on both the big and small screens.

Quvenzhané Wallis (Born: August 28, 2003)

Quvenzhané Wallis is a talented, young actress from Houma, Louisiana. She made history at the age of nine as the youngest actress ever to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her remarkable performance in the critically acclaimed 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Wallis was just five years old when she secured the role of Hushpuppy in the movie and went on to have her natural talent and captivating presence on screen earned her widespread acclaim.

Following her success in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Wallis continued to pursue acting opportunities in both film and television. She appeared in films like 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Annie (2014), where she played the titular role of Annie, showcasing her versatility as an actress. In addition to her acting career, Wallis has ventured into writing. She has authored a series of children’s books, starting with A Night Out with Mama, which was published in 2017. With all she has achieved before the age of 21, Wallis has proven herself to be a positive role model for aspiring actors and young individuals, especially other young, Black actors.

Marsai Martin (Born: August 14, 2004)

Marsai Martin is a talented young actress, producer, and entrepreneur who has made a significant impact in the entertainment industry. Born in Plano, Texas, she is best known for her role as Diane Johnson in the popular ABC sitcom Black-ish. In addition to her acting career, Marsai Martin made headlines in 2019 when she became the youngest executive producer in Hollywood history at the age of 14. She pitched the idea for the film Little, which is a modern twist on the classic body-swap comedy. The film was a commercial success and showcased her talent both in front of and behind the camera.

Martin has also ventured into entrepreneurship. She founded her production company, Genius Productions, with a focus on creating content that highlights underrepresented voices and perspectives in the entertainment industry. Her commitment to diversity and inclusion has been a driving force in her career. Expect to see more of the young talent as her groundbreaking achievements, both in front of and behind the camera, have established her as a prominent figure in the entertainment industry.

It is inevitable that the world will be seeing more of these young, Black actors, so remember their names. They have already proven more that there is room for them in the entertainment industry and they are here to stay.