By: Marconja Zor
In 2018, Kiki Layne stole our hearts and our attention with her dramatic delivery as Tish in Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street could talk.
The Cincinnati, Ohio native recalls wanting to be an actor since childhood, where she would recreate scenes from the Lion King using her Barbies. “I used to watch it every day and create these extravagant stories with my Barbies and stuffed animals,” Layne says.
Her fantastic performance in ‘If Beale Street could talk’ was a testament to her lifelong dedication for her craft. This love story, which is based in early 70’s New York, follows Layne’s character Tish as a sweet teenager who falls in love with her childhood friend Fonny (Played by Stephen James). The young couple, who are not married, soon learn that they are expecting. Suddenly, Fonny is charged with a crime that he did not commit and is thrown in prison.
From the moment that Layne’s character is introduced on the big screen, she gives us a wide variety of emotions, both intense and subtle. She nailed, taking us as her audience through a scared teenage girl’s mind and heart. We felt her levels of love to her depths of despair and heartbreak. The extraordinary range of her acting, striking beauty and radiant personality turned enough heads to secure even more upcoming roles in 2019, along with red carpet appearances, late night talk shows, and magazine interviews. Kiki Layne is definitely a black actress to keep your eye on for Summer ’19.
With the pool of young, first-generation African actresses in Hollywood being close to none, Karen Obilom takes on the challenge gracefully! The 26-year-old Nigerian- American was born and raised in Texas by Nigerian parents. Obilom later graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Hollywood. While working hard to expand her resume, Obilom was able to gain representation and started booking extra work and commercials. Before her massive break in BET’s Games People Play, she probably caught your attention in season three of HBO’s hit comedy, Insecure, playing the role of Antoinette.
Well, things have gone nowhere but up for Obilom in 2019 as she landed the role of a primary cast member, Nia Bullock, in BET’s new hit drama ‘Games People Play.’ This natural hair beauty is working alongside a star-studded cast that includes Lauren London, Parker Mckenna, Jackie Long, and Vanessa Simmons. Her character Nia Bullock is a gossip journalist who finds herself caught between either furthering her career or being loyal to her best friend (portrayed by London) whose husband has been detected in the biggest cheating scandal of the year. Obilom’s character, Nia, definitely is the eye catcher of the cast, as she delivers both sass and class so effortlessly. She portrays the sassy best friend, with the great comebacks and sarcasm but who also is admirable for staying on top of her career and being there for her friends. Nia is surely that good girlfriend that every black woman would want or need. Obilom’s character brings the edgy and spice to this hit series and keeps you looking forward to her comedic relief. Karen Obilom is someone to look out for this Summer ’19.
Marsai Martin is best known for her role as Diane Johnson in the ABC series Black-ish, which she has portrayed since the show began in 2014. Marsai’s character Diane is the funniest and wittiest young lady that you will see on your tv screen. She has already been branded as the breakout star of Black-ish, and we all can see why. Her character is a gifted and talented young girl who feels as if she’s smarter and more mature than her twin brother Jack, even though she’s only a minute older than he is. Over the seasons, her character has morphed from being the sassy and smart daughter, to at times being the bizarre and calculating intimidation. As her style continues to develop, Marsai, keeps surprising us with the full range of personalities that she can convey. Her comedic timing is perfect! At just the young age of 14, Martin has already received multiple acting awards and nominations from likes of the NAACP and the Screen Actors Guild. Recently, Martin also became Hollywood’s youngest producer working on her big screen debut, Little. With TV star, movie star, and the most budding producer in Hollywood all under her belt at the age of 14, Marsai Martin is an actress to look out for this Summer ’19.
It seems as if Shahadi Wright Joseph just came out of nowhere with her stunning performance in Jordan Peels’ 2019 box office hit ‘US.’ The truth of the matter is that this talented, young, beauty has been right up under our noses for some time now. Her first significant role was being cast as young Nala in Broadway’s rendition of the Lion King, where she received rave reviews. Hot off the heels of Broadway, Joseph was casted as Inez Stubbs for the musical Hairspray Live! 2019 is when the entire world would know her name. Joseph’s portrayal as Zora Wilson, a girl who during her family vacation is more interested in her iPhone than family time, later turns into the family’s warrior. Her performance left critics stunned and completely satisfied, wanting more. With already having these big roles under her belt, it doesn’t just stop here for young Shahadi. Her next role in Disney’s Lion King (Starring Beyonce as adult Nala) where she will be reprising her role as young Nala will surely catapult her career into superstardom. Shahadi Wright is someone to look out for this Summer ’19.
Baltimore native, Tiffany Boone, has been creating quite the buzz in Hollywood with her role as Jerrika, in Lena Waithe’s newest series “The Chi.” The character Jerrika reflects many young, career-driven black women who are trying to progress in life while holding down a man whose career may not have taken off as they would have liked. Boone shows multiple sides of the character she portrays. Her character struggles with being successful and super ambitious, all while trying to allow her man, Brandon, to be in charge of their relationship. She remains humble and supports her boyfriend through his growing pains while helping to encourage his dreams. Boone does all of this with subtle acting techniques and mannerisms. Boone has also made a conscious decision to always wear her natural 4c hair out in all of her roles, representing the many black women who feel the European pressures of Hollywood. She’s also made a name for herself in the fashion world. Boone has exhibited her street, chic, high fashion, vintage and earthy styles in multiple magazines and style blogs. Tiffany Boone is a black actress to look out for this Summer ‘19.