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On The Rise 2012: 10 Actresses Poised For The Big Time

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 30, 2012 4:48 PM
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On The Rise Actresses

While there are still not enough good roles for women out there, particularly in mainstream Hollywood, that hasn't stopped a batch of young female stars from exploding from out of nowhere in recent years. Head-turning performances have helped launch faces like Carey Mulligan, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Felicity Jones and many others into the stratosphere, and the success last weekend of "The Hunger Games" has hopefully put to rest the fallacy that huge audiences won't turn up to big movies carried by a woman.

With that in mind, and hot on the heels of our ten picks for actors on the rise yesterday, we've chosen ten actresses who, while yet to be household names, have wowed audiences and casting directors in recent years, and look like strong contenders to headline the big movies of the future. Check our picks our below, and weigh in with your own tips in the comment section.

Nicole Beharie
Nicole Beharie
As scorching as the performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in "Shame" were, there was one other performance in the film, from a less familiar face, that was almost as memorable. It was from, 27-year-old Florida-born actress Nicole Beharie, who played Brandon's colleague Marianne, who he attempts to develop an actual relationship with, one defeated by his sex addiction. Beharie was bright, warm and winning in the early stages, and confused and wounded when Brandon spurns her, unable to reconcile the idea of sex with someone he actually likes. While she didn't necessarily get the awards attention of her co-stars, it certainly turned a lot of heads, and should see Beharie turn up in more and more films. After graduating from Julliard, she landed the leading role in drama "American Violet," before starring alongside Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid in period football drama "The Express." At the end of 2010, she was cast alongside Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def and Paul Dano in John Guare's "A Free Man Of Color," a definite testament to her skills, and that seems to be what helped her land the part in Steve McQueen's film. Since "Shame," she's impressed with TV appearances in "The Good Wife" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and has indies "The Last Fall" and "Small Of Her Back" in the pipeline. But most high-profile of all is "42," Brian Helgeland's story of the glass-ceilling-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson, in which Beharie joins newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as executive Branch Rickey, playing Rachel Isum, the love of Robinsons' life. The film looks like it could be a serious awards contender, and should only help on the path to making Beharie a household name.

Alison Brie
Alison Brie
To be on one of the best shows on TV is fortunate. But if you're on two of them, simultaneously, and the shows are wildly different, and you're terrific in both of them, then it starts to look like it's no accident. And that certainly seems to be the case with Alison Brie, who plays both Annie Edison on "Community" and Trudy Campbell on "Mad Men." 29-year-old Pasadena native Brie was actually in "Mad Men" first, and while it's a relatively minor role, she has always impressed, but it's "Community" that's really demonstrated her deft comic skills, while causing scores of geeks to develop major crushes on her. And of all the show's stars, it's Brie who's proving most in demand in the movie world; she went through a rite of passage for actresses by being brutally dispatched in last year's "Scream 4," and picked up some excellent reviews at Sundance for her turn alongside Lizzy Caplan in indie rom-com "Save The Date." And things keep looking up and up: "Mad Men" is back on the air, the ratings for "Community" have revived with a fourth season looking all but certain, and she'll shortly be donning a British accent to play Emily Blunt's sister in "The Five-Year Engagement." Can her own studio rom-com lead be far behind? She's shooting another comedy with promise, Dylan Kidd's "Get A Job," alongisde Bryan Cranston, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jay Pharoah, but by the time her next hiatus rolls around, her own vehicle wil surely have materialized.

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  • Jessica | December 8, 2012 12:27 AMReply

    There is a typo in this article. The film "Unicorns" (starring Julia Garner) was directed by Leah Meyerhoff (not Leyer Meyerhoff) Thanks.

  • Alva | May 20, 2012 12:08 PMReply

    Wow I was not expecting to see Alicia Vikander on the list. I'm from sweden myself and it's just so weird to see someone from here make it in other countries. Anyway, it's a great list but I think Juno Temple should be on it as well. She's a HARD WORKING, EXTREMELY TALENTED actress with like thirteen films coming up, most of whom I'm REALLY looking forward to see.

  • DG Brock | April 3, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    As a director, I can say that Alison is a dream to work with and a major talent. May she get many good roles. She deserves them and can handle them.

  • D | April 3, 2012 12:31 AMReply

    Brie Larson was fantastic as the lead's best friend on the fun yet short-lived series "The Middleman." She also had a brief role on a recent episode of "Southland."

  • anon | April 1, 2012 11:51 PMReply

    man...i thought that was milla jovovich up at the top...

  • Robert Gallegos | April 1, 2012 8:45 AMReply

    I am a big fan of movies and television series' however I am not familiar with any of these actresses. By looks alone, I see talent in Alison Brie and Jessica Brown-Findlay. I agree that women need to be more of a focal point of movies and television shows. I enjoy watching women act because of their beauty and emotion. I am excited because I think a lot of upcoming actresses are going to be successful, including Kaitlyn Dever and Haley Pullos. Well it was nice reading about this topic. Feel free to message me.

  • tomcmh | March 31, 2012 7:19 PMReply

    Good call on Alison Brie. Hopefully 'Five Year Engagement' does well. It could be a nice launching pad for her movie career.

  • JDT1971 | March 31, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    This list ought to have incorporated Holliday Grainger. I reckon she will be a seven figure sum actress by the end of 2012 and the start of 2013.

  • Alex S | March 31, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    Great list; however, has anyone heard of India Ennenga (Treme/Nobody Walks)
    She's pretty great

  • Mary L | April 10, 2012 10:10 PM

    Oh c'mon. That was probably the worst movie ever screened in Sundance this year (sorry to anyone involved). It was horrible.

  • B. Stokes | March 31, 2012 4:05 PMReply

    Would love to see some "on the rise" actresses who are older than 35. You can break out at any age yes?

  • Please | March 31, 2012 1:56 PMReply

    It's embarrassing that they chose that mess Kristen Stewart over those actresses for Snow White. The producers obviously didn't get the memo that Stewart isn't liked and all her non Twi-films have flopped.

  • Amy | March 31, 2012 12:13 PMReply

    Great to see a mention of Taissa Farmiga.

  • Taylor | March 31, 2012 11:08 AMReply

    Nice list. Excited about Ruth Wilson, Alison Brie and Jessica Brown-Findlay hitting it big, great work from all three on the small screen.

  • Mony | March 31, 2012 1:15 AMReply

    Interesting list, never heard of any of them. However it is refreshing to see a list with relatively newcomers, or those not yet "big time"

    Should be interesting to see how they do

  • j | March 31, 2012 1:06 AMReply

    Although Jane Levy has a signficant role, Victoria Justice is the lead in Fun Size.

  • Megan | March 31, 2012 12:46 AMReply

    Finally Hollywood is getting beautiful actresses with talent again. "No daughters or sisters of ___" These girls are here because of their talent, their unique beauty, and hard work. Then again, a little bit of good luck never hurt anyone. ;-)

  • Natalie | April 2, 2012 7:47 PM

    Its crazy how many "sons and daughters ofs" are acting now. Ridiculous. Good to see some of these girls got there on their own purely out of talent. Would've been better to see all of them get there on their own though.

  • Robert Gallegos | April 1, 2012 8:46 AM

    I like your post. Do you have a favorite actress?

  • Jezelle | March 31, 2012 12:57 PM

    What are you talking about, Megan? One is the little sister of Vera Farminga and the other one Alice Englert is the daughter of a famous director. The other girls on the other hand have no connections and got there on their own. That's not true. Finally there's a black girl on the list...about time!

  • Jim | March 30, 2012 8:38 PMReply

    I still don't know how Olivia Thirlby hasn't gotten big yet.

  • Cinematic_high | March 30, 2012 7:36 PMReply

    About fucking time Hollywood smartened up! Ruth Wilson is a beast on Luther, and now I'll have another reason to watch The Lone Ranger besides Arnie Hammer....

  • matt | March 30, 2012 6:58 PMReply

    good list. Not sure why"Pure" is described as an addiction drama, but them's minor grapes

  • kris | March 30, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    riley keough.

  • Amie | March 30, 2012 5:02 PMReply

    Sarah Gadon oughtta be somewhere on that list.

  • Amie | March 30, 2012 5:23 PM

    Stop being a supercilious ass. I love how you can just assume to know everything about me based on an eight-word comment. I've never seen the Twilight movies or read the books and I don't care either which way about the stars, not that I even need to defend myself.

  • Emma Q | March 30, 2012 5:18 PM

    Says the girl who never knew she existed until she was in a film with Robert Pattinson

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