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Best of 2020: TOP 100 Rising Stars of Streaming TV


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Old 06-05-2020, 12:45 PM
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Default Best of 2020: TOP 100 Rising Stars of Streaming TV

Meet the Rising Stars of Streaming TV

With a wealth of new TV and films flooding our streaming platforms, we take a look at the newcomers set to become our favourite new faces over the next few months—from Normal People’s Paul Mescal to Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in Netflix’s Never Have I Ever and The Forgotten Army's Sharvari Wagh.





Sonoya Mizuno, Devs (Disney+ Hotstar)
Directed and written by Alex Garland (The Beach, Ex Machina), this self-contained eight-episode limited series is part tech thriller, part dystopian sci-fi and part good old-fashioned love story. Featuring a cast of mostly newcomers—alongside Janet Mock and Nick Offerman—the heart of the story centres on Lily Chan, a quietly fierce character played brilliantly by Japanese-born British actress Sonoya Mizuno, 33. Frank Ocean fans may remember Mizuno from his Nikes video, and she also had a small role in La La Land (2016). No doubt Devs will mark the breakthrough for this talented actor. Catch Mizuno next alongside Rosie Perez on HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant.

Sharvari Wagh, The Forgotten Army: Azaadi Ke Liye (Amazon Prime Video)

The Forgotten Army: Azaadi Ke Liye is based on true events that took place during India's fight against the British before independence. Centring around the Battle of Singapore and the struggles and initiatives of the Indian National Army led by Subhash Chandra Bose, the five-part show managed to deliver on a riveting premise with its spot-on portrayal of the nation's history. Sharvari Wagh played the role of Maya, a soldier from the first Indian female regiment that fought in the war. The debutant's performance was widely acclaimed post the show's release in January 2020, by audiences and critics alike. The 23-year-old has also been signed for a sequel to Bunty aur Babli (2005), where she'll be starring opposite Siddhant Chaturvedi.

Paul Mescal, Normal People (BBC Three, Hulu, Stan)
Paul Mescal in Normal People
Photography Enda Bowe /BBC / Element Pictures / Hulu



If you’re not obsessed with Normal People yet, you should be. The Hulu/BBC Three adaptation of Sally Rooney’s 2018 bestseller breaks every rule, not least nearly bettering the book itself. Irish newcomer Paul Mescal is proving so popular there’s an Instagram account dedicated solely to his chain (it’s adding a good few-thousand followers per day). As the conflicted, brooding Connell, Mescal is utterly convincing; it’ll be impossible to read the book and not picture Mescal as Connell. Though this is the 24-year-old’s first major screen role since graduating from Trinity College Dublin in 2017, we predict he’ll be getting the call from every major casting director worth their salt.

Suhail Nayyar, Hasmukh (Netflix)
The recently-released Netflix original strikes a balance between crime and comedy. Placed at two extreme ends on a spectrum of genres, the plot successfully linked the two categories with the help of some great writing (the show has been co-written by Vir Das) and a laudable performance by the cast. Suhail Nayyar, who plays the rival of the protagonist—Das's character, Hasmukh—triumphed in delivering on the hybrid genre with his effortlessly humorous stand-ups and the unlikable personality as the foe. The 30-year-old has also been previously done a side role in Udta Punjab (2016); and with the OTT release in his portfolio of works, is now set to embark on a promising journey.

Choi Woo-shik, Time To Hunt (Netflix)
Choi Woo-shik in Parasite
Photography Curzon Artificial Eye /Kobal / Shutterstock



This Seoul-born, Vancouver-raised actor is already well established in Korean film and television, thanks to roles in 2014’s Set Me Free and 2016’s Train To Busan, as well as a small part in the Netflix hit Okja (2017). But Woo-shik is now finding global acclaim thanks to his memorable portrayal of Kim Ki-woo in Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning black comedy Parasite (2019).
Effortlessly switching gears from the scavenging Ki-woo to studious tutor Kevin, Woo-shik’s performance inhabited humour and naivety with a brilliantly nuanced mischief. Woo-shik, 30, is also a gifted singer—it’s his voice on the film’s closing track A Glass of Soju, which received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Woo-shik can currently be seen in South Korean crime thriller Time To Hunt, available on Netflix.

Jeremy Pope, Hollywood (Netflix)
Jeremy Pope in Hollywood
Photography Saeed Adyani / Netflix



A newcomer to the screen, triple Tony-nominated Pope made his name on Broadway in 2018’s Choir Boy, written by Moonlight co-author Tarell Alvin McCraney. In 2019, Pope auditioned for television kingpin Ryan Murphy’s (Glee, Pose) latest vehicle, the 1940s-set Hollywood. He won the role in 30 minutes—and no wonder. Pope plays aspiring black, gay screenwriter Archie trying to make his way in town, despite the odds being stacked against him. Pope, 27, is winning rave reviews for his disarming performance, more than holding his own against heavyweights Laura Harrier, Dylan McDermott and Patti LuPone.

Taylor Russell, Waves (Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV)
Taylor Russell in Waves
Photography A24 / Everett Collection



Canadian Russell made her name on the small screen with a lead role in Lost In Space (2018) before graduating to cinema with Escape Room (2019). It was her outstanding turn in what might be one of the world’s most emotionally wrenching films that has really put the 25-year-old on the map.
Her performance as Emily in Waves is revelatory, carrying the second half of Trey Edward Shults’ drama so brilliantly well. An auteur too, Russell has just co-directed a documentary for Chicks In Crisis, a not-for-profit that helps mothers in need. She will be back for Escape Room 2 later this year and can be seen alongside Charlie Plummer and Andy Garcia in Thor Freudenthal’s Words on Bathroom Walls in the near future.

Thuso Mbedu, The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video)
Based on the astonishing Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 novel by Colson Whitehead, this TV adaptation by Moonlight director Barry Jenkins is sure to be as haunting as the book. Set in the pre-civil war era of slavery, the period drama focuses on the story on Cora, a slave attempting to escape a horrific reality. Played by South African Mbedu, 28, who was nominated for an International Emmy in 2017 for her portrayal of Winnie in Is’thunzi, the series will follow Cora’s journey across 11 one-hour episodes. One of the most powerful books of our times directed by one of the best directors working today, The Underground Railroad is guaranteed to be a huge moment for Mbedu and the series’ other newcomers: Aaron Pierre and Chase W. Dillon. Originally slated for a 2019 release, hopes are high that this will be coming to Amazon Prime Video very soon.

Maitreyi Ramakrishnan, Never Have I Ever (Netflix)
Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in Never Have I Ever
Photography Netflix



The new vehicle from Mindy Kaling is a coming-of-age comedy series from the perspective of a south-east Asian teen, a perspective so rarely explored on screen. It’s funny, gentle and it’s anchored brilliantly by 18-year-old Tamil-Canadian actor Maitreyi Ramakrishnan in her TV debut as Devi, a young woman struggling to fit in. With rave reviews and a Netflix number-one show in the US, Canada, France and India, Never Have I Ever looks certain to be commissioned for a second series, while Ramakrishnan is busy clocking up hundreds of thousands of followers on social media. It may be her first role, but it most certainly won’t be her last.

Leo Sheng, The L Word: Generation Q (Disney+ Hotstar)
Leo Sheng in The L Word: Generation Q
Photography Hilary Bronwyn Gayle / Showtime / Everett Collection



Making a welcome return after 11 years, Showtime’s seminal lesbian-centred series has learned some lessons since its first iteration. As well as a more inclusive cast, Generation Q is also navigating the trans perspective a little more mindfully. One of two trans lead characters on the show, 23-year-old Leo Sheng, born in Hunan, China and brought up in Michigan, plays the gentle Micah Lee, through whose perspective we explore the nuances of this particular trans man’s multifaceted experiences.

Besides a role in Adam, alongside Margaret Qualley and based on a book written by Sheng, this is his first major screen role. A writer and director who has documented his own experience through transition, Sheng will return to Generation Q for the new series when it hopefully airs in 2021.




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