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Ones to Watch: 13 Black Actors on the Verge of Blowing Up  was originally published on

1. Shameik Moore

This Atlanta native got his break as the retro, yet cool music nerd in the 2015 flick ‘Dope.’ Moore continues to be a blast from the past as DJ Shaolin Fantastic in the early hip-hop series ‘The Get Down’ on Netflix. With a background in dance and singing, Moore’s eclectic talents are sure to shine in multiple projects on the way.

2. Trevonte Rhodes

Rhodes, a former track star, wasn’t even thinking about acting when he got approached by a talent agent while at UT Austin. He gained traction as the older Chiron in the groundbreaking film ‘Moonlight.’ Now, the Texas native is carving a career for himself as a versatile actor and sex symbol, with upcoming roles in a Predator sequel and the war drama Horse Soldiers.

3. Keith Powers

Powers is making moves and stealing hearts with his gradual rise to stardom. You might first remember him as Dr. Dre’s half-brother who was tragically killed in ‘Straight Outta Compton.’ Now you can watch him as a troubled actor on the new Freeform show ‘Famous In Love.’ You can also catch his take as Ronnie Devoe in the sure to be syndicated telemovie The ‘New Edition Story’ on BET.

4. Afton Williamson

Williamson started off as the understudy to Kerry Washington in the Broadway play ‘Race’ before succeeding her in later runs. Now you can catch Williamson as a fiery hip-hop go-getter in VH1’s ‘The Breaks.’ As a lead actress holding her own, Williamson has nowhere to go but up.

5. Rotimi

This actor got his big break on the Starz series ‘Boss,’ starring Kelsey Grammer. After a short two seasons, the series ended. However, the New Jersey native got another chance with the network as the shifty hustler Dre on the hit series ‘Power.’ You can now spot Rotimi left and right, with roles in Netflix’s ‘Burning Sands’ and ‘Deuces,’ as well as an upcoming spot in the Bruce Willis lead film ‘Acts of Violence.’

6. Algee Smith

Smith gave us depth and sensitivity as Ralph Tresvant in ‘The New Edition Story’ on BET. He’s sure to give us a lot more with a blossoming music career and acting resume. Next up, you can find Smith in Katherine Bigalow’s racially charged period drama ‘Detroit.’

7. Ashton Sanders

Sanders broke hearts as the anxious young Chiron coming to terms with his sexuality and family life in ‘Moonlight.’ Now Sanders is on his way to becoming a fashion icon, building a rapport with Calvin Klein and other big fashion cultivators. But don’t be mistaken, Sanders is still on his acting flow. Next, he will star alongside John Goodman in the sci-fi thriller ‘Captive State’ expected in 2018.

8. Simone Missick

Missick turned over a scene stealing performance as the no-nonsense cop Misty Knight in Netflix’s ‘Luke Cage.’ She’s set to reprise her role in the Marvel helmed ‘The Defenders’ in August. Hopefully, this won’t be the last we see of Missick and her own superhero show might be in the works. Fingers crossed!

9. Chanté Adams

Hailing from Carnegie Mellon’s drama school, Chanté Adams is sure to become a household name thanks to her upcoming portrayal of hip-hop legend Roxanne Shanté in the film ‘Roxanne Roxanne.’ As a breakout star at the Sundance Film Festival, her career is sure to go to amazing heights. You can catch her in ‘Roxanne Roxanne’ alongside Mahershala Ali and Nia Long when it comes out later this year.

10. Daniel Kaluuya

Some might remember a younger Kaluuya in the hit British teen drama ‘Skins.’ But now he’ll surely come to mind as the all-too-familiar Black man trying to escape White terror in the mega-hit ‘Get Out.’ Kaluuya is only getting started. Next, you can catch him this summer when he takes on the role of W’Kabi in the much anticipated Marvel Studios film ‘Black Panther.’

11. Kiersey Clemons

Clemons played the BFF to her two male co-stars in the hit comedy ‘Dope.’ Her confidence radiated on screen and hopefully she’ll bring that to the role of Iris West in the upcoming ‘The Flash’ movie. Until then, you can watch her make an appearance in the ‘Justice League’ movie in November, as well as an array of other films in the works.

12. LaKeith Stanfield

Born in Victorville, California, Stanfield first made his mark on cinema in the acclaimed feature ‘Short Term 12.’ Ever since, Stanfield’s career has skyrocketing with roles in ‘Selma,’ ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ and ‘Get Out.’ But, his big breakthrough came with the role of Darius in the hit series ‘Atlanta.’ Next, you can find Stanfield starring in ‘Death Note’ based off the wildly popular manga series.

13. Justice Smith

Smith made a character all his own in the Netflix musical drama series ‘The Get Down.’ As the love-torn Ezekiel, Smith definitely stood out as an actor with impressive skills and emotional range. With talent like his, it’ll be exciting to see what unique character he’ll embody next. You can expect more from him in the upcoming ‘Jurassic World’ sequel.