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September 14, 2017

Faces of Fall

As the new season dawns, these primetime players are already turning heads.

Mark Morrison
  • Emily Kinney

    Sandro Baebler
  • Adeel Akhtar

    Sandro Baebler
  • Matt Barr

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  • Jamie Chung

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  • Kimberly Hébert Gregory

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  • Brandon Micheal Hall

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  • Iain Armitage

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  • Bailey Noble

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  • Elizabeth Gillies

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  • Iwan Rheon

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  • Hadi Tabbal

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  • Natalia Tena

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THE FREE SPIRIT

EMILY KINNEY

Series: Ten Days in the Valley, ABC. Role: Casey, seemingly devoted assistant to stressed-out TV producer Jane Sadler (Kyra Sedgwick). Hometown: Wayne, Nebraska. First break: Joined the Broadway cast of Spring Awakening as Anna (2007). Big break/best known for: Costarred in AMC’s The Walking Dead (2011–15) as sweet-singing innocent Beth Greene, who is accidentally killed in a raid on Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, where she was being held captive in season five. Other TV credits: Showtime’s The Big C (2011) and Masters of Sex (2015), Cinemax’s The Knick (2015) and ABC’s Conviction (2016–17). She played Brie Larvan (a.k.a. the Bug-Eyed Bandit) on two CW series: The Flash (2015) and Arrow (2016). Fun fact: She was 25 when she started on The Walking Dead (2011-15), though her character was only 16 (and had no counterpart in Rick Kirkman’s comic book, on which the series is based). What she loves about Casey: “Casey has secrets and is always putting up some kind of front, depending on who she is around. She’s careful about who she lets see what side of her. She is eager to please, self-conscious and sensitive, but also passionate, obsessive, smart — and she knows how to compartmentalize.”

THE SCENE STEALER

ADEEL AKHTAR

The series: Ghosted, Fox. Role: Barry, the obsequious Bureau Underground assistant who is nearly as peculiar as the paranormal events being investigated there. Hometown: London, England. First break: Guest role on Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2006). Big break: Became the first non-white actor (his father is Pakistani; his mother is from Kenya) to win the BAFTA Leading Actor award, for the heartbreaking BBC drama Murdered by My Father (2016). Best known in the U.S. for: Played Tom Hiddleston’s trusted friend Rob Singhal in the Emmy-winning AMC miniseries The Night Manager (2016) and Kumail Nanjiani’s obedient brother in the film The Big Sick (2017). Other TV credits: Nominated for a Best Supporting Actor BAFTA for Channel 4’s Utopia (2013–14); in 2015 he appeared in two BBC miniseries, playing a shopkeeper in Capital and a detective sergeant in River. What he loves most about Barry: “He is a sweet- natured fool who is constantly on the lookout for any social interaction, whatever form it comes in. To quote one of the lines, he is always on the lookout for new bros to bro down with.”

THE REBEL

MATT BARR

The series: Valor, The CW. Role: Captain Leland Gallo, cool Navy flyboy. Hometown: Allen, Texas. “It’s where those defining, coming-of-age moments happened for me — Friday night football, my first kiss, drama gang, chips and queso from Chili’s and the local movie theater, where I was inspired by all the great movies of the ’90s.” First break: A guest role on NBC’s E.R. (2004) as a guy named Ryan whose girlfriend had been assaulted. “I had three lines. I can’t even describe to you how thrilling it was.” Big break/best known for: Played Ian “Psycho Derek” Banks, Hilarie Burton’s stalker on The CW’s One Tree Hill (2006–07). He also played Johnson “Johnse” Hatfield on History’s Emmy-winning miniseries Hatfields & McCoys (2012). Other TV credits: CBS’s Harper’s Island (2009), NBC–DirecTV’s Friday Night Lights (2010), Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (2014–15). What he loves most about Gallo: “I’m fascinated by the contrasts in him. He’s instinctually reckless and unapologetically plays outside the lines of what’s right and wrong. But at the same time he can be incredibly disciplined, and his commitment to his duty and his job is unwavering. He has such strength and composure, yet he’s a complete mess.”

THE SUPER WOMAN

JAMIE CHUNG

Series: The Gifted, Fox. Role: Clarice Fong/Blink, a mutant with teleportation powers. “Once I’ve got the ears, hair, contacts and markings on, it’s easy to slip into character.” Hometown: San Francisco, California. First break: Cast member of MTV’s The Real World: San Diego (2004) and its game-show spinoff, The Challenge (2005). Arguably the franchise’s alumna with the most impressive filmography. Best known for: Played Ed Helms’s bride-to-be, Lauren, in The Hangover Part II (2011) and his wife in The Hangover Part III (2013); she also recurred as Mulan on 12 episodes of ABC’s Once Upon a Time (2013–16). Fun facts: Married to actor Bryan Greenberg, with whom she costarred in Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (2015); a serious fashionista, she has a style blog called “What the Chung?” What she loves most about Clarice/Blink: “I love that she’s sassy and very careful about who she trusts. She isn’t afraid to say what she thinks. Because she was never able to hide her mutant markings, she had a tough upbringing. Now she’s got thick skin, but she’s also a survivor.”

THE DIVINE ONE

KIMBERLY HÉBERT GREGORY

Series: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, ABC. Role: Yvette, a guardian angel with attitude assigned to Kevin (Jason Ritter), a slacker who has no clue he’s one of the chosen few appointed to save the human race. Hometown: Houston, Texas. “It is where I was born, where most of my family still live. And it’s where I cut my theatrical teeth, at the Ensemble Theater.” First break: Played a babysitter in Chris Rock’s I Think I Love My Wife (2007). Big break: Nominated for Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play for Lynn Nottage’s comic stage play, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2012). Best known for: Played principal Dr. Belinda Brown, who is much more qualified for her job than the bumbling rivals played by Danny McBride and Walton Goggins in the HBO comedy series Vice Principals (2016). Other TV credits: Lifetime’s Devious Maids (2014), Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2017), AMC’s Better Call Saul (2017). What she loves most about Yvette: “I love Yvette’s love of humanity. She has sacrificed her own place in paradise based on her belief in — and love for — humanity. It is a noble, selfless characteristic at its heart.”

THE NATURAL

BRANDON MICHEAL HALL

The series: The Mayor, ABC. Role: Courtney Rose, a struggling rapper who runs for mayor to promote his mixtape — then wins and really has to face the music. Hometown: Anderson, South Carolina. First break: He played a rookie cop on A&E’s Unforgettable (2016) and a delivery guy on Comedy Central’s Broad City (2016). “But before both of those, in my final year at Juilliard, I booked a series regular [role] playing a smart but erratic E.R. resident on the CBS pilot LFE opposite Melissa Leo that unfortunately never made it to air.” Best known for: Played Julian, a self-absorbed journalist, on the TBS series Search Party (2016). Fun fact: The Mayor was co-created by Tony-winning Hamilton star Daveed Diggs. What he loves most about Courtney: “Courtney throws his energy behind everything he does — even if it’s just for a moment — and never forgets where he came from. He’s got a genuine spirit. Even if he’s in a bit over his head on something, he sees each commitment through till the end… with a little bit of help from his mother!”

THE PRODIGY

IAIN ARMITAGE

The series: Young Sheldon, CBS. Role: Sheldon Cooper, The Big Bang Theory uber-nerd played by Jim Parsons, seen at age nine as he enters high school while living with his devoutly Christian mom, football-coach dad, twin sister and jock-wannabe big brother. Hometown: Arlington, Virginia. First break: Played a kidnap victim on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2017). Big break: Played Ziggy Chapman, Shailene Woodley’s sensitive son, on HBO’s Big Little Lies (2017). Fun fact: In his first year of acting, also at age nine, he has three films in the can and has already worked with Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. What he loves most about Sheldon: “I don’t watch a lot of TV, and Big Bang isn’t always appropriate for me. I worked with Mr. Jim, and he helped me to understand how Sheldon sees the world and how he might say something. He is the world’s greatest Sheldon expert! I love getting to know all the new vocabulary, though sometimes it can be hard. And I love getting to wear bow ties.”

THE DREAM GIRL

BAILEY NOBLE

Series: Law & Order: True Crime, NBC. Role: Jamie Pisarcik, real-life former tennis pro and ex-fiancée of Lyle Menendez; she testified in the gruesome L.A. parricide case that the series chronicles. Hometown: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. First break: Guest role on the short-lived ABC drama from Shondaland, Off the Map (2011). Big break/best known for: Played Adilyn Bellefleur, the half-fairy daughter of sheriff Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) on HBO’s True Blood (2013– 14). Other TV credits: the ABC Family (now Freeform) series Secret Diary of an American Cheerleader (2012), CW’s 90210 (2013), Fox’s Lucifer (2016), NBC’s Timeless (2016–17), Amazon’s The Last Tycoon (2017). Fun fact: Though she didn’t pursue acting till age 19, when she was eight she appeared as Eva Herzigova’s daughter in the film Just for the Time Being (2000), which her real mother, Lynn Noble, executive-produced. What she loves about Jamie: “I like Jamie’s loyalty. She stood by Lyle, the man she loved, until he openly confessed to her that he and his brother killed their parents. She had to have been an incredibly strong person to face the horrible truth about her fiancé and walk away from him with a sense of dignity.”

THE WILD CHILD

ELIZABETH GILLIES

Series: Dynasty, The CW. Role: Fallon, classic rich-bitch scion of the Carrington clan who feels neglected by her father (so she’s sleeping with his chauffeur). Hometown: Haworth, New Jersey. First break: In 2007, played the young Jenny (Olivia Wilde’s character) on Paul Haggis’s NBC drama The Black Donnellys. Big break: Played mean girl Jade West on the popular Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious (2010–13) and dueted with costars Victoria Justice and Ariana Grande on two soundtrack albums and many music videos. As a result, she has 2.96 million followers on Twitter and 4.6 million followers on Instagram. Also known for: Played Denis Leary’s daughter on the FX series Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (2015–16). What she loves most about Fallon: “I love to step into Fallon’s heels and play such a strong-willed, ambitious woman. She’s a force of nature. I don’t mean to knock the girl-next-door roles, but I prefer a character with a little bite. The truth is that Fallon will go as far as she needs to go to get exactly what she wants. She’s her father’s daughter, so she’s a master manipulator. But I do believe she has a conscience.”

THE HEAVY

IWAN RHEON

The series: Marvel’s Inhumans, ABC. Role: Maximus, a villain of superhuman intellect, was briefly the leader of the Inhumans and is now a rival to their new leader, his own brother, Black Bolt (Anson Mount). Hometown: Cardiff, Wales. First break: Joined the long-running Welsh-language soap opera Pobol y Cwm. Big break: Won an Olivier Award for his performance in the original London cast of Spring Awakening (2009), which led to his TV start on E4’s Misfits (2009–11). Best known for: Played evil Ramsay Bolton on HBO’s Game of Thrones (2013–16). Fun fact: On GOT, he originally tried out for Jon Snow but lost the role to his friend, Kit Harington. What he loves most about Maximus: “Maximus is the most human of the Inhumans because his ‘Terrigenesis’ [a transformation] removed his Inhuman gene. This makes him a fascinating character who’s endured the worst coming of age possible. Because of this, he can understand the plight of the lower caste of the Inhuman social structure and wants to change what he believes is an archaic system. Freedom for all Inhumans!”

THE QUIET HERO

HADI TABBAL

The series: The Brave, NBC. Role: Amir Al-Raisani, a former U.S. undercover operative who penetrated ISIS and is now arguably the most aloof member of an American team that tackles dangerous missions behind enemy lines. Hometown: “I grew up in Beirut [Lebanon] but my hometown has been Brooklyn for a while. It’s complicated.” First break: Played a taxi driver in Circumstance, a 2011 indie film about a wealthy Iranian family. Best known for: Guest roles on CBS’s Person of Interest (2013), NBC’s The Blacklist (2015) and CBS’s Madam Secretary (2016). Fun fact: He is an adjunct assistant professor in the theater department of CUNY York College in Jamaica, New York. According to ratemyprofessors.com, students say he’s “hilarious,” “inspirational,” and a “tough grader.” What he loves most about Amir: “He defies stereotypes and is nuanced, specific. Amir is from Lebanon and turned to his faith — Islam — after a shattering personal incident. But he is motivated to fight extremism and fundamentalism. He is not some generic character painted with wide and evil brushstrokes, like many Middle Eastern characters on television.”

THE CLASS ACT

NATALIA TENA

Series: Wisdom of the Crowd, CBS. Role: Sara, the most trusted executive working for tech innovator Jeffrey Tanner (Jeremy Piven). Hometown: London, England. “I was born to Spanish parents, so Madrid, Barcelona and a little town called Hornachos in Extremadura also have a big part of my heart.” First break: Played Ellie McRae, the teen rocker wannabe and object of young Nicholas Hoult’s desire in About a Boy (2002). Big break: Played Nymphadora Tonks in the last four Harry Potter films (2007–11). Best known for: Osha in Game of Thrones (2011– 16). “I had an inclination that I would be killed off. I got a call saying that I only had a two-week shoot and that it would be mainly with Ramsay Bolton. I guessed a gruesome death was imminent.” Fun fact: She’s the lead singer and accordionist of English band Molotov Jukebox, which has released two albums. What she loves most about Sarah: “She is so competent! I don’t even understand Facebook, so getting to play a woman whose tech IQ is leaps and bounds beyond mine is fantastic. She also has a banging wardrobe.”


This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 8, 2017

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