It’s clear 2015 was the year the world finally sat up and took notice of Brie Larson and rightly so, got more of Saorsie Ronan and Alicia Vikander, and welcomed back Taraji P Henson into our lives in the form of Cookie. Now, as 2016 kicks into gear, there are a few more underrated actresses I think it would be good to see get their dues in the coming months. There are many names that could be included, but for now, my picks are:
She was a modern-day Adrienne to Michael B Jordan’s Rocky in Creed – where she played the actor’s love interest, Bianca. But this was no paint-by-numbers girlfriend she created. No, Tessa brought a millennial edge to the role, conveying what it’s like to want to support your boyfriend but also put your energy into your own passion too. Her roles in the films Dear White People and Selma, where she played a rebel-rousing campus DJ and an unsung civil rights heroine, respectively, show she isn’t afraid to tackle topical films. But she’s a singer in a band too, so she knows how to lighten up too, as anyone who’s witnessed her perform live will attest. Her dancing skills were on display in her pal, Janelle Monae’s music video for Yoga, and, aside from just wanting to hang out with her in general, it would be good to see Tessa be more front and center in the film world. At least she gets to stretch her comedic chops a little this year, in War on Everyone, alongside Alexander Skarsgard.
Ever since she joined the cast of The Walking Dead as Michonne, the bow-wielding woman we’d most like to have as a BFF during a zombie apocalypse, Danai Gurira has consistently delivered on the thrills and character development we’ve come to love from our favourite TV personalities. Just like her character, she’s smart, strategic and intensely dedicated to her craft. Read any interview will her and you’ll see that. But her moving portrayal of a traditional Brooklyn-based Nigerian immigrant struggling to have a baby with her husband in Mother of George was criminally overlooked. She is always on the go – after a sold-out run Off-Broadway run at the Public Theater last fall, her play Eclipsed, starring Oscar winner Lupita N’yongo, heads to Broadway this year, plus she already has another play lined-up for the middle of 2016, titled Familiar. She’s conquered theatre and TV, but she deserves to leave a solid mark on film, and perhaps, now, with the news she’ll take on the role of Tupac Shakur’s mother, Afeni, in a movie about the troubled West Coast rapper, she may just get her chance.
It’s said even Tom Cruise knew this 31-year-old actress was the true star of Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation. He’s shared the screen with a number of attractive co-stars in the spy series, but Rebecca held her own in a way no-one else quite has, with her impressive motor-cycle riding and swimming skills – both displayed in scenes that literally took our breathes away. The Swedish actress, who began acting at the age of 16, worked in the Starz period drama The White Queen, for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination, and caught the eye of Cruise who had watched the show. In MI, She played the character of Ilsa Faust with the poise of a classic starlet, like Veronica Lake or Ingrid Bergman, but added a kick-ass attitude from today’s era to her. The willingness to do her own stunts and be challenged is something Rebecca takes with her into her next movie, Florence Foster Jenkins, in which she’ll star alongside Meryl Streep, in the film about an opera singer who’s tone deaf. And while she’ll no doubt sizzle in the Cold-War era film, Despite the Falling Snow, we can’t wait to see her as new-wife Anna in Girl on the Train, based on the hit book, which is due for release in October this year.