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Zendaya and John David Washington in 'Malcolm & Marie'

Source: Netflix / Netflix


There is a new era of Black Hollywood upon us. Actors like Daniel Kaluuya, Zendaya, and Lupita Nyong’o have taken home prestigious awards early in their careers. Younger stars like Marsai Martin are finding success in front and behind the camera and they are just getting started. With Hollywood pushing for more diversity in film and television, it is only a matter of time before we see some of these stars flourishing in bigger motion pictures.

So who will be our future Emmy, Oscar, and Tony winners? Who can we expect to see in big-budget films and probably save the world from some supervillain? Who has the power to make us all laugh or cry on TV and Film? In no particular order, check out Actors under 40 who we should be paying attention to!

Related: Donald Glover Offers Critique Of Film & TV Industry, Folks On Twitter Don’t Know What Canceled Means

Related#ManCrushMonday: 15 Black Actors Who Are Sexy & Under 40

Black Actors Under 40 We Should Be Paying Attention To  was originally published on

1. Lupita Nyong’o – 38

Lupita Nyong'o - 38 Source:Getty

Lupita Nyong’o won the  Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in “12 Years A Slave”

2. Michael B. Jordan – 34

Michael B. Jordan - 34 Source:Nike Publicity

Michael B. Jordan has added Director to his list of accomplishments. He will direct the 3rd installment of the Creed series.

3. Daniel Kaluuya – 32

Daniel Kaluuya - 32 Source:Getty

Daniel Kaluuya just took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor with a masterful performance as the late Fred Hampton in the film”Judas and the Black Messiah.

4. Tessa Thompson – 37

Tessa Thompson - 37 Source:Getty

Tessa Thompson can be seen as the superhero Valkyrie in Marvel’s Thor series

5. Zendaya – 24

Zendaya - 24 Source:Getty

Zendaya became the youngest winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in her role from the HBO drama “Euphoria”

6. Letitia Wright – 27

Letitia Wright - 27 Source:Getty

Will Letitia Wright become the next Black Panther?

7. Lakeith Stanfield – 29

Lakeith Stanfield - 29 Source:Getty

Lakeith Stanfield was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Judas and the Black Messiah 

8. Donald Glover – 37

Donald Glover - 37 Source:WENN

The Atlanta star has the ability to win an EGOT one day.

9. Zoë Kravitz – 32

Zoë Kravitz - 32 Source:WENN

The daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet has appeared in such film and TV projects such as The Divergent Series and High Fidelity. She will become the iconic  Catwoman in Matt Reeves’ DC film The Batman (2022).

10. Winston Duke – 34

Winston Duke - 34 Source:WENN

Winston Duke held his own against Black Panther, help save his family in “Us” and reportedly will play Marcus Garvey in a biopic.

11. John Boyega – 29

John Boyega - 29 Source:Getty

John Boyega as a production deal with Netlflix to spotlight African films and don’t forget: He’s the first Black lead in a Star Wars film.

12. Issa Rae – 36

Issa Rae - 36 Source:Getty

Issa Rae is a powerhouse. Insure and an 8 figure deal with Warner, Issa is set to dominate Hollywood and help future actors and writers along the way

13. Zazie Beetz – 29

Zazie Beetz - 29 Source:Getty

You can see Zazie Beetz in the Donald Glover series “Atlanta” and “The Joker”

14. Brian Tyree Henry – 39

Brian Tyree Henry - 39 Source:Guy D'Alema/FX

Brian Tyree Henry is a vet of the Stage and Screen. You can see him in Atlanta alongside LeKeith Stanfield, Zazie Beetz and Donald Glover, and big budget flicks like King Kong vs. Godzilla

15. Amandla Stenberg – 22

Amandla Stenberg - 22 Source:Getty

Amandla Stenberg maybe 22 but she is a Hollywood veteran. Check her out in “The Hate U Give”

16. Caleb Mclaughlin – 19

Caleb Mclaughlin - 19 Source:WENN

Caleb Mclaughlin has grown up before our eyes, starring in the “Stranger Things” series and Young Simba in the musical The Lion King. McLaughlin made his feature film debut in 2020 starring in Concrete Cowboy with Idris Elba.

17. Yara Shahidi – 21

Yara Shahidi - 21 Source:Getty

Yara Shahidi has went from Black’ish to leading her own TV series “Grown’ish”

18. Keke Palmer – 27

Keke Palmer - 27 Source:Getty

Keke Palmer is another star who as grown up in front of us. She is set to star in a yet to be titled Jordan Peele horror flick coming soon

19. Jodie Turner-Smith – 34

Jodie Turner-Smith - 34 Source:Getty

Jodie Turner-Smith can be seen in “Queen and Slim” with Daniel Kaluuya and the new Michael B. Jordan film “Without Remorse”

20. Kiersey Clemons – 27

Kiersey Clemons - 27 Source:Getty

Kiersey Clemons can be seen in the film “Dope” and some hope to see more of her in the DC Comics world in “The Flash”

21. John David Washington – 36

John David Washington - 36 Source:Netflix

We know is John David Washington’s mom and pops is but did you know that the former Ballers star was once in the NFL? Now he is saving the world in Tenet, arguing with Zendaya in “Malcolm and Marie” and taking down the KKK in “BlacKkKlansman”

22. Marsai Martin – 16

Marsai Martin - 16 Source:Getty

Marsai Martin is one of the stars of “Black’ish” and the youngest producer in Hollywood!

23. Corey Hawkins – 32

Corey Hawkins - 32 Source:Getty

Corey Hawkins has played Dr. Dre, been on Broadway and fought zombies in the “Walking Dead”

24. Aldis Hodge – 34

Aldis Hodge - 34 Source:Getty

Aldis Hodge has played a wide range of roles including MC Ren in Straight Outta Compton and Jim Brown in One Night In Miami.

25. Storm Reid – 17

Storm Reid - 17 Source:Getty

You can see Storm Reid in films such as 12 Years a Slave,  the fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time the thriller  Don’t Let Go,  the Netflix miniseries When They See Us , and the horror film The Invisible Man. She currently appears in the HBO drama series Euphoria alongside Zendaya

26. Shameik Moore – 26

Shameik Moore - 26 Source:Radio One

Shameik Moore is the voice of Miles Morales/Spiderman in “Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse” and Hip-Hop legend Raekwon in Wu-Tang: An American Saga

27. Janelle Monae – 35

Janelle Monae - 35 Source:Getty

Janelle Monae is another person who could see an EGOT in her future. The Grammy-nominated singer has starred in Hidden Figures as NASA mathematician and aerospace engineer Mary Jackson, and Moonlight.

28. Tyler James Williams – 28

Tyler James Williams - 28 Source:Getty

Tyler James Williams may has starred in “Everybody Hates Chris” but now he has grown up!

29. Gabourey Sidibe – 38

Gabourey Sidibe - 38 Source:Getty

Gabourey Sidibe made her acting debut in the 2009 film Precious, a role that earned her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead, in addition to nominations for the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actress.

30. Alfred Enoch – 32

Alfred Enoch - 32 Source:Getty

We may have first saw Alfred Enoch in the Harry Potter series but he grew up and now we can see him in “How To Get Away With Murder”

31. O’Shea Jackson Jr. – 30

O'Shea Jackson Jr. - 30 Source:Getty

Out of his pops and namesakes shadow, you will see O’Shea Jr in a Galaxy Far Far away! He is set to join the Star Wars franchise very soon

32. Jason Mitchell – 34

Jason Mitchell - 34 Source:Getty

Troubled? Yes. Talented? Yes! The Straight Out of Compton star put on a memorable performance in the film “Mudbone”