Written by Sam Kohn
The world of film is forever in a state of flux, with fresh faces shimmering on the horizon ready to leave their mark on the big screen. Leading the vanguard are ten prodigious talents – all of them women, and all of them legends in the making.
Between them, they’ve got Oscar nominations, box office successes, and a formidable body of work. But how much further can they go? Read on to meet the Next Generation giving us a taste of cinema’s exhilarating future.
No one has had a bigger year than Ayo Edebiri. While the American comedian had already earned her stripes writing episodes for hit shows like “Big Mouth” and “What We Do in the Shadows”, it’s her recent leap to the screen that has catapulted her to superstardom. 2023 saw her flex her versatility with roles in “The Bear”, “Theater Camp”, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and “Bottoms”. And as if this wasn’t enough, her upcoming projects – including a leading role in Marvel’s “Thunderbolts” alongside Florence Pugh and Harrison Ford – are nothing short of electrifying. Bagging nods from the Writers Guild of America and the Emmys, it’s undeniable: 2023 belongs to Edebiri.
Korean-Canadian director and playwright Celine Song faced adversity when her hotly-anticipated play, “Endlings”, became an unexpected casualty of the COVID pandemic. Undeterred, Song transformed obstacle into opportunity, manifesting her vision in 2023 with her acclaimed directorial debut, “Past Lives” – a touching exploration of a cross-continental love odyssey between Korean childhood sweethearts. After a celebrated premiere at Sundance, the film went on to win “Best Indie” at the Hollywood Critics Association Awards. With whispers of Oscar nods for the 2024 ceremony, it’s clear: Celine Song is only just beginning her cinematic symphony.
Scottish director-producer Charlotte Wells made waves in 2022 with her debut feature “Aftersun”, a poignant drama starring Paul Mescal and newcomer Frankie Corio. This breakthrough followed a series of acclaimed shorts and quickly garnered a slew of awards, including a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut, an Independent Spirit Award, and a Gotham Independent Film Award. Despite the accolades, Wells remains coy about her next cinematic endeavor, finding it “kind of liberating” that it will “probably” not be as well-received as Aftersun. Given her track record, we’d beg to differ.
Emma Seligman, the dynamic Canadian director-screenwriter, exploded onto the scene with 2020’s “Shiva Baby”, launching both herself and star Rachel Sennott into the limelight. The duo then teamed up again in 2023 for “Bottoms”, a one-of-a-kind high school comedy dubbed by critics as the decade’s comedic masterpiece. Blending elements of Fight Club and Heathers, this queer, R-rated epic achieved the highest per screen average of the pandemic era during its limited release in the States, eclipsing Best Picture-winner “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. If this is Seligman’s “Bottom”, one can only imagine where she will go next.
Molly Gordon, celebrated for her versatility in both dramatic and comedic roles, has solidified her place as a compelling force in cinema. While she’s captivated audiences with her diverse performances, 2023 saw her dive into another creative venture for the first time. Co-writing and co-directing her debut, “Theater Camp”, Gordon managed to assemble some of the hottest emerging names in comedy for this Will Ferrell-produced romp. The film has earned rave reviews, showcasing Gordon’s deft touch behind the camera. “Obviously, we’re mentally ill and crazy,” Gordon remarked about the theater community. If this is her brand of madness, we’re eager for more.
American actress Myha’la Herrold has been a name on the rise since her captivating screen debut in 2018. Initially gaining recognition for her leading role in HBO’s “Industry” – the UK’s answer to “Succession” – Herrold has since dominated both television and film, with standout roles in “Bodies Bodies Bodies”, “Black Mirror”, and “Dumb Money”. But her trajectory is set to skyrocket even further: In December, she’s starring alongside heavyweights Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, Ethan Hawke, and Mahershala Ali in the eagerly awaited “Leave the World Behind”. With company like this, Myha’la is undoubtedly poised for the big leagues, marking her as the one to watch on this list.
“What? It’s LA.” To the chronically online, this became something of a mantra in the summer of 2019. A lifestyle. A way of being. It also birthed a mysterious yet captivating entity. Who was this girl with the messy brown bun and the red sunglasses? Turns out her name was Rachel Sennott, and she was about to have one of the biggest blow-ups in the history of comedy. From performing stand-up on Comedy Central to her collaborations with Emma Seligman, Sennott has stolen the show in virtually every project she’s appeared in, going from “that girl” in the video to That Girl on your TV screens. Long may she reign.
Director Raine Allen-Miller brought a breath of fresh air to the silver screen with her feature debut, “Rye Lane” – a vibrant, sun-drenched rom-com portraying the rich tapestry of South London. Not just another romantic comedy, “Rye Lane” smartly acknowledges and deconstructs the genre, infusing new life into it and revitalizing the UK film scene in the process. Premiering at London’s Peckhamplex before reaching international audiences via Hulu and Disney+, it marked a monumental win for indie cinema. Its praise for direction, style, and originality heralds Allen-Miller as a rising star in British cinema, showcasing a singular, exciting voice.
California-born with Chinese and Taiwanese heritage, Stephanie Hsu dazzled audiences with her dual performance in the Oscar-sweeping “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress). But her illustrious career didn’t start there. A prestigiuous Tisch School graduate, Hsu has already conquered Broadway, TV, and film. Now, as an Oscar nominee and established triple threat, the world seems to be at her feet. Up next? A starring role in Disney+’s “American Born Chinese” alongside EEAAO co-star Michelle Yeoh and Hong Kong’s Daniel Wu. Indeed, it seems Hollywood’s newest “It Girl” shows no signs of slowing down.
Who is Teyana Taylor? It’s a question pondered by both the world and Taylor herself. Once a video vixen in Kanye West’s “Fade” and an artist in her own right, Taylor chose to step back from the music industry in 2020, citing feelings of being overlooked by her record labels. “For my mental well-being, for my kids, let me just put this on ice for a little,” she explained. This hiatus proved transformative. Emerging as the star of Sundance Grand Jury prize-winner “A Thousand and One”, her performance was heralded as “fiercely commanding” and “a force of nature” by critics. And with a lead role in Jeymes Samuel’s “The Book of Clarence” alongside LaKeith Stanfield and Benedict Cumberbatch next, Taylor’s renaissance is now in full swing.