Introducing PEOPLE's Ones to Watch: 18 Actors and Singers Whose Stars Are on the Rise

Keep an eye on these young celebs, whose names will surely come up in awards seasons ahead

01 of 18

Naomi Ackie

naomi copy
Eric Ray Davidson

Why she’s hot: The British newcomer, 26, only had a few TV credits under her belt when she was cast in the still-mysterious role of Resistance recruit Jannah in this December’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

The force is strong: “My initiation into the cast was everyone pulling me aside and telling me how amazing it’s going to be and giving me tips,” she says. “There was huge amounts of encouragement.”

02 of 18

Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Sami Drasin

Why he’s hot: The New Orleans native, 25, was a jazz musician before starting to act. “I was sneaking around to auditions,” he says. He’s since starred in Luce and Godfather of Harlem, plus the upcoming Oscar-buzzy drama Waves.

Random fans: “I was ordering Taco Bell, and I had a delivery person come up to me and go, ‘I saw It Comes at Night!’ ”

03 of 18

Kim Petras

Thom Kerr

Why she’s hot: The 27-year-old German singer-songwriter — who has a cult following thanks to hits like “I Don't Want It at All” — is on tour for her debut album, Clarity.

A voice for change: “I was told that I’d always be a niche act because I’m transgender,” says Petras, who transitioned as a teenager. “I don’t want my career to be about my gender — I’ve worked too hard for that.”

04 of 18

Sophia Lillis

Premiere Of Warner Bros. Pictures' "It Chapter Two" - Arrivals
Jon Kopaloff/Getty

Why she’s hot: The New Yorker, 17, starred in both It films and played a young version of Amy Adams' character in HBO's Sharp Objects. “Maybe I’ll grow up and be an identical version of Amy Adams!” she says. She’ll face evil again in 2020’s film Gretel & Hansel and lead Netflix's young adult series I Am Not Okay with This.

Her chosen path: “My twin brother is going through the college process, and it seems stressful,” she says. “I’m happy I’m not doing that.”

05 of 18

Lauren Ridloff

Curtis Brown

Why she’s hot: The Chicago-born Walking Dead actress and Tony nominee, 41, will be the first deaf actor to play a Marvel superhero, opposite Angelina Jolie in The Eternals.

A moving mission: “I act to educate, to tell my story, to show that there is a beautiful signing community that is intersectional and imperfect and important,” she says.

06 of 18


CNCO. Steven Taylor

Why they’re hot: The Latino quintet — comprising Christopher Vélez, 23, Zabdiel de Jesús, 21, Erick Brian Colón, 18, Richard Camacho, 22, and Joel Pimentel, 20 — is being called the new One Direction.

Craziest encounter: “We looked up and saw fans in an air vent. It was super creepy, but we love that they took the risk to get a simple ‘hi,’ ” says Camacho.

07 of 18

Faithe Herman

Birdie Thompson

The San Diego native, now 11, first broke out as Sterling K. Brown’s daughter in This Is Us, then the movie Shazam! Next up is HBO's Watchmen. When not on-set, she loves “baking with my sisters — cupcakes and cake and stuff!”

08 of 18

Manuel Garcia-Rulfo

Jeff Lipsky/Netflix

Why he’s hot: He’s a star in his native Mexico, but Guadalajara-born Garcia-Rulfo, 39, says he isn’t famous famous there. “They only care about the soap stars,” he says. “Maybe I need to do a soap!”

Action hero: With his U.S. career taking off, he joins Ryan Reynolds in the Michael Bay thriller 6 Underground, out in December. “It was so fun,” he says. “Explosions everywhere!”

09 of 18

Nesta Cooper

Heather Gildroy

Why she’s hot: Aquaman’s Jason Momoa comes to Apple TV+ in November with a new fantasy series, See. Canadian actress Cooper, 25, plays his daughter on the show, set in a post-apocalyptic future where everyone on Earth is blind.

Meeting the big guy: A huge Game of Thrones fan, she admits she was “nervous” to work with Momoa — until they met. “He’s like a human teddy bear,” she says. “He gave me a big hug, and after that it was all good.”

10 of 18

Roman Griffin Davis

Celeste Sloman

The British 12-year-old makes his big-screen debut as Scarlett Johansson’s son in the Oscar hopeful Jojo Rabbit, a dark comedy about Nazi Germany. “He’s just a great kid,” says Johansson.

11 of 18

Ari Lennox

Eva Zar

Why she’s hot: The D.C. native (born Courtney Shanade Salter), 28, made a splash in R&B this year with her debut album’s empowering title track, “Shea Butter Baby.” Next came a spot opening up for fellow self-love advocate Lizzo.

Leap of faith: Lennox quit her job at a public storage facility to take a meeting with rapper J. Cole in L.A. She’s now signed to his Dreamville label. “It’s been great,” she says. “I’m so inspired.”

12 of 18

Hero Fiennes-Tiffin

Salvatore Ferragamo show, Front Row, Fall Winter 2019, Milan Fashion Week, Italy - 23 Feb 2019
Swan Gallet/WWD/Shutterstoc

Why he’s hot: The British actor, 21, played a young Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and starred in the romance After, with a sequel due out next year.

Famous family: His uncles, veteran stars Ralph and Joseph Fiennes, “are always busy acting so I barely see them much, but they are so supportive,” he says.

13 of 18

Sherry Cola

Shanna Fisher

Why she’s hot: The comic, 29, surprised fans of TV’s Good Trouble with her saucy dance moves — which she’ll also show off on E!’s Funny Dance Show.

Living her dream: “Comedy was always a passion,” says Cola, whose family emigrated from China. “But I didn’t see myself represented, so I didn’t see it as a possible career at first.”

14 of 18

Anthony Ramos

Eric Johnson

Why he’s hot: The Brooklyn native, 27, was in the original Broadway cast of Hamilton and played Lady Gaga’s best friend in A Star Is Born. Now his debut album, The Good & The Bad, drops Oct. 25 — and he’ll star in the film adaptation of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights, due out next year.

Stage to screen to studio:Hamilton was a huge turning point for me,” he says. “I met my fiancée [actress Jasmine Cephas Jones], and that’s where my music really started to take off. I’m thankful to have different avenues where I can combine my acting with my music. Acting is always going to be a huge part of my life, but right now music is my focus — I love it.”

15 of 18

Quinta Brunson

The Riker Brothers

Why she’s hot: She’s been a popular Buzzfeed comic for years, but HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show is earning Philadelphia-born Brunson, 29, new fans. “People now see I can also act,” she says.

Born funny: “I was the youngest of five. Growing up with older siblings makes you a quippy kid!”

16 of 18

Morgan Wallen

John Shearer

Why he’s hot: The Sneedville, Tennessee, native, 26, has notched two No. 1 country hits: “Whiskey Glasses” and the Florida Georgia Line collab “Up Down.”

Mullet man: “When my dad was my age, he had a mullet, and I wanted to try it,” he says of his trademark haircut. “Now dudes show up to my concerts with mullets and cutoff flannels!”

17 of 18

Florence Pugh

Chloe show, Front Row, Fall Winter 2019, Paris Fashion Week, France - 28 Feb 2019
Swan Gallet/WWD/Shutterstock

Why she’s hot: After breaking out earlier this year with her films Fighting with My Family and Midsommar, the Brit, 23, will play Amy March in the Oscar contender Little Women and star with Scarlett Johansson in 2020’s Black Widow. “I was always loud and loved attention,” she says of getting into acting.

Feisty femme: She adored playing Little Women's Amy. “There’s a little devil in me that always loves a slightly bratty, annoying sibling role,” she says. “She’s so delicious and naughty — I had a lot of fun with her.”

18 of 18

Noah Jupe

Noah Jupe
Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

He’s only 14, but the British actor has already worked with A-listers including George Clooney in Suburbicon, Julia Roberts in Wonder and Emily Blunt and John Krasinski in A Quiet Place. Up next? Ford v Ferrari with Matt Damon and Christian Bale.

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