Meet the Young Starts Who Took Center Stage in Hollywood in 2023

The story of how Gen Z is transforming Hollywood.

6 mins read
Art credit: Dominique Greene


Animator, 14

Preston Mutanga, a Canadian teen, taught himself CGI animation after being inspired by Pixar films growing up. He recreated the teaser trailer for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse with his Lego animation style, and tweeted his YouTube link in January. This caught the attention of producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who later invited Mutanga to animate a Lego sequence for the movie itself. Since the movie’s box office and critical success, Mutanga has been featured in CNN, Variety, GQ, AfroTech, and more publications. His plan is to finish high school and attend college to become a full-time animator.


Actress & Singer, 23

Halle Bailey, of the R&B sister duo Chloe x Halle, is on a solo career high, even winning the Gamechanger of the Year award from Glamour. After facing controversy for her casting as Ariel, Bailey was vindicated by not only the box office success of the live-action film The Little Mermaid, but the collection of books and animated TV series set to follow in her likeness. She also released her first solo single “Angel,” which is now Grammy nominated, and starred as Young Nettie in the musical film adaptation of The Color Purple, nominated for Best Acting Ensemble by the Critics’ Choice Awards.


Actress, 20

Storm Reid was a shining example of balance this year by featuring in several film and TV roles and studying at University of Southern California. The thriller Missing and horror The Nun II were both box office successes, and Reid guest starred in an episode of HBO series The Last Of Us and Disney+ series The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder. Her performance in The Last Of Us earned her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination. As we await the return of HBO’s Euphoria, she continues as a USC student with a major in dramatic arts and minor in African-American studies.


Actor, 22

Fresh off of being honored with the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)’s Rising Star Impact Award for his role in the YouTube / Netflix series Cobra Kai, Xolo Maridueña made his feature film debut as Jaime Reyes in the DC film Blue Beetle. The DC comics character is the first Latino superhero to star in a live-action film, and earned Maridueña a Saturn Award nomination for Best Younger Actor in a Film.


Actress, 21

Following a breakout year as a scream queen, Jenna Ortega won the MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Performance in a Show and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Female TV Star as the lead in the Netflix series Wednesday. She’s also been nominated for her first Primetime Emmy Award and Saturn Award for the role. Ortega continued her success streak this year with Scream VI, Finestkind, and hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live. It was announced that she will next star in Miller’s Girl and the sequel film Beetlejuice 2.


Actress, 26

After a rollercoaster of projects in film and television, Cailey Spaeny finally struck gold starring as Priscilla Presley in the film Priscilla, directed by Sofia Coppola and based on the 1985 memoir Elvis & Me. Her performance earned her the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice International Film Festival, as well as her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. She is next set to appear in the action war film Civil War and sci-fi horror film Alien: Romulus.


Actor, 22

D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, a Canadian actor, is best known as the star of FX on Hulu’s Reservation Dogs, which ended beautifully this year. His performance earned his second nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy Series at the Critics’ Choice Awards. He went on to star in a mixture of Canadian and American comedy and horror films, including Fitting In, Only The Good Survive, and Hell of a Summer, co-directed by Finn Wolfhard.


Actress, 22

Best known as the youngest winner and first actress of Colombian descent to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical for West Side Story, Zegler’s next roles were highly anticipated by audiences and executives alike. This year she starred in the DC film Shazam! Fury of the Gods and Lionsgate’s prequel The Hunger Games: A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the latter of which was a box office success. Her next roles will be the voice of Princess Ellian in animated film Spellbound, and the controversial new star of the live-action Disney remake of Snow White.

Cierra Lockett

Cierra Lockett is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Loyola Marymount University with an MFA in Writing & Producing for Television. Raised in Memphis, she currently works in Los Angeles as a Production Coordinator in the MTV Entertainment Group at ViacomCBS, where she supports TV movies and series from prep to premiere. She loves culture, food, and trivia and board games. (She/her)

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