NOTE: I edited and partly wrote the following feature for LimitéMagazine.com.
(Re-posted from LimitéMagazine.com)
Committed to its mission to seek and promote tomorrow’s trending topics, we are thrilled to announce its sixth-annual “Faces to Watch” feature. Compiled by Limité’s film team, “Faces to Watch” presents a curated look at this year’s newest and brightest in film – both in front of and behind the camera – as seen through the lens of Limité.
Ryan Coogler / filmmaker
by Minnie Li
Ryan Coogler rose to critical acclaim with his directorial debut, Fruitvale Station. Its Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award wins at last year’s Sundance Film Festival were the first of a trail of recognition from festivals the world over, including the Prix de l’avenir at Cannes, which recognizes Coogler as a talent to watch. He, along with his star Michael B. Jordan, was named by Time as one of the 30 people under 30 changing the world. In December, the 28-year-old filmmaker took home best breakthrough director at the IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Fruitvale Station chronicles the last day of 22-year-old Oscar Grant’s life. A white transit officer shot Grant, who was African-American, in 2002 on the BART platform. A decade later, George Zimmerman shot the unarmed young black man, Trayvon Martin. The film and its timely release suggest that life in post-racial America has changed little. Coogler is an Oakland native and has worked as a counselor at a juvenile hall in San Francisco and as a counselor and security guard in a home for troubled Bay Area youths. Grant’s story hit home.
Coogler’s next project is Creed, a spin-off of the Rocky franchise. Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan have already signed on.
Dane DeHaan / actor
by Saidah Russell
This year at Sundance, the film Life after Beth received rave reviews with special attention paid to the male lead, relative newcomer Dane DeHaan. It’s definitely been a big year for the young star, and he shows no signs of slowing down.
Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, DeHaan, 27, was exposed to acting through theater camps as a child. He attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and later acted in small theater productions in New York. DeHaan cites his theater work as some of his best experiences in the industry. His extensive theatrical training certainly shows in his performances, especially in his breakout role in the HBO series In Treatment. The actor played an openly gay teenager struggling with addiction and a strained relationship with his adoptive parents. It was his work on In Treatment that eventually got him noticed by Hollywood.
In the few years following his television debut, DeHaan has starred in the indie hits Chronicle (2012) and The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), as well as in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012). It’s undeniable that the actor’s career has been picking up speed over the past two years. You can currently catch him as Harry Osborn alongside Andrew Garfield in the newest installment of the Amazing Spider-Manfranchise, a role that will likely push his popularity over the edge. As DeHaan’s star rises, he seems to be maintaining a delicate balance between independent and big studio films—a promising start to a long career.
Natalie Dormer / actor
by Stephanie Dawson
British actress Natalie Dormer, 32, was a straight-A student bound for Cambridge until a low A-level final exam score dashed those hopes. However, it freed her to tackle her real passion: acting. Within months of graduating from Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, Dormer landed the role of Victoria in Casanova (2005), opposite Heath Ledger. From 2007 – 2008, Dormer played the enigmatic Anne Boleyn in Showtime’s The Tudors, a role for which she was critically acclaimed.
Dormer has experienced some bumps in the road. A three-picture deal with Touchtone, signed shortly after Casanova, was never exercised. She was out of work for nine months following Casanova, and her role as Ewan McGregor’s love interest in Incendiary(2009)wound up on the cutting room floor. But Dormer’s talent is unmistakable, and rise she did. Dormer’s London stage debut as Mizi in Sweet Nothings garnered rave reviews. In 2001, she was seen on the big screen as the Duchess of York in W.E. and Pvt. Lorraine inCaptain America: The First Avenger. She recently held a pivotal roles on the small screen in the CBS Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary as Irene Adler/Moriarty, but it’s perhaps for her current role as Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones for which she is best known. Dormer continues to bounce seamlessly between media and coasts, as she has made stateside appearances in feature films Rush(2013) and The Counselor (2013), as well as British stage turns in .45and After Miss Julie. This year, a wider audience will know her as Cressida in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Part 2.
Ava DuVernay / filmmaker
by Curtis John
Not so much an up-and-comer as someone you are left wondering, “What will she do next,” filmmaker Ava DuVernay undoubtedly has one of the brightest futures in Hollywood. She first gained nationwide attention with her illuminating BET documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip-Hop (2010) and quickly followed with her touching debut feature film I Will Follow (2010)—but she gained the ultimate notice with Middle of Nowhere. The melancholic drama about a woman who finds herself on a journey of self discovery while dealing with her incarcerated husband’s well being became the hit of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. There, DuVernay became the first African-American female filmmaker to win the Best Director award, opening doors for future projects, like directing a much-ballyhooed episode of ABC’s hit series Scandal.
Not one to simply make films, but to change the way audiences watch them—primarily those of the African diaspora—DuVernay decided to create the African-American Film Releasing Movement (AAFRM). Combining her filmmaking talent with her long-time experience as a publicist on over 100 films and television projects, AAFRM combines the audiences and talents of black film and arts organizations and black film enthusiasts across the United States to distribute African-American cinema in theaters in major cities. DuVernay is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with—and she’s just getting started.
Tatiana Maslany / actor
by Joy Ganes
Who is Tatiana Maslany, you ask? Just a Golden Globe-nominated actress who is currently killing it as seven—yes, seven—different characters on the BBC America television series Orphan Black.
Prior to her breakout role as Sarah and her clone mates, Maslany, 28, appeared in several Canadian television shows and the 2004 filmGinger Snaps 2: Unleashed. But Orphan Black puts Maslany’s talents on full display as the actress tackles several characters (all clones) that are a part of a seemingly nefarious scientific experiment.
Maslany is one to watch for her ability to add nuance and depth to a variety of characters, making each one distinctive. But her acting calisthenics are on full display when she plays one clone pretending to be another clone while maintaining the truth of each character. Confused yet? Fortunately, Maslany is not.
Season 2 of Orphan Black is currently on air with new clones added—and new characters for Maslany to play—as the story unfolds. Fans of the show and Maslany call themselves the “Clone Club,” with their numbers rising. It is worth it to check out this actress who is making a splash on the small screen.
Lupita Nyong’o / actor
by Morgan Goldin
Lupita Nyong’o, 31, made her American film debut in Oscar Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave (2013), and earns all the critical acclaim and accolades she’s garnered for her incredible performance as beleaguered slave Patsey, including this year’s Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her success isn’t surprising, considering her background. Nyong’o was born in Mexico City, Mexico (she is named Lupita in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe) to Kenyan immigrants living in political exile. The family moved back to Kenya, where her father worked as a university professor. Nyong’o had a comfortable middle class upbringing, infused with an artistic temperament that had the family taking in excursions to the theater and other cultural events. This inspired a passion for acting in Nyong’o, where she pursued it first by acting in school plays at her all-girls school in Kenya, then by enrolling in the acting program at the Yale School of Drama.
While studying in the United States, the actress worked on the production crews of numerous films, including The Constant Gardener(2005) and The Namesake (2006). Years later, her presence would be felt in front of the camera and on several fashion magazine covers. One cannot deny the incredible impact that Nyong’o has had in her brief time in the industry, and the excitement felt upon waiting to see where she decides to take her promising career next.
Margot Robbie / actor
by Daniel Quitério
With her blonde hair and striking blue eyes, it would be easy to discount Margot Robbie as just another “Hollywood model type.” Sure, Robbie’s beauty commands the audience’s attention the moment she takes the screen in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), but it’s her undeniable talent that seduces the viewer.
Originally from Queensland, Australia’s Gold Coast, the 23-year-old actress began her career in front of the camera as a teenager when she was cast in two films by Australian filmmaker Aash Aaron. She made the transition to television, starring on popular soap operaNeighbours, before moving to the US to see what Hollywood had to offer. It wasn’t long before she landed a role in the short-lived ABC airline drama Pan Am (2011) as a newly minted flight attendant. Following the show’s demise, Robbie took a part in the Richard Curtis-directed romantic drama About Time (2013) before breaking through in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street, playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio as his character’s second wife. The latter role earned her an MTV Movie Award nomination for Best Breakthrough Performance.
Robbie’s star continues to shine, as she currently has five films in various stages of production, working alongside such Hollywood heavyweights as Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, and Ralph Fiennes. Perhaps one of her more anticipated roles is as Jane, opposite Alexander Skarsgård’s title character of Tarzan, in David Yates’s 2016 adventure film. As her career continues to blossom, Australia’s latest acting export once again proves that looks and talent—with an emphasis on talent—is a winning combination. And that’s a beautiful thing.