Over the last several years, there's been a new group of actors on the rise. The list includes several fan favorites, including Insecure’s Sarunas J. Jackson, Allen Maldonado, and breakthrough star Jharrel Jerome. The latter made his feature film debut in Barry Jenkins Oscar-winning film Moonlight. Since then, the young star has gone on to appear in several successful projects, and in 2019, he made history by becoming the first Afro-Latino actor to win an Emmy Award. Check out the list below.
Sarunas J. Jackson
Afro-Panamanian actor Sarunas J. Jackson is best known for his role as Dro from Insecure and Marques King from BET’s Games People Play. While proud of his roots, the rising star has often spoken about the impact his heritage and appearance have had on his career.
While speaking to People en Español, the actor said it was difficult for him to book Latino roles. It would just be easier for them to say they want Euro-Latinos or European descent than Afro descent," he said. "But they don’t want to say that because they know, it sounds ridiculous. It’s mad disrespectful because Latinos come in all shapes, colors, and sizes.”
Born and raised in the Bronx, up-and-coming Jharrel Jerome got his first professional acting gig in the Academy Award-winning film Moonlight. However, movie fans got to see a performance like never before from a burgeoning actor following Jharrel’s role in the Ava DuVernay-directed Netflix series When They See Us, based on the story of The Central Park Five, now known as the “Exonerated Five.”
While accepting his historic Emmy award in 2019, marking the first time an Afro-Latino won the prestigious honor, the young star addressed the symbolic value of the win. “I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro-Latinos,” he said at the time. “It’s about time we are here.” Jharrel’s win marked the first Emmy win for a Latinx actor and the youngest person to win the award for Outstanding Lead Actor.
Fans first saw Panamanian actor Y’lan Noel as Daniel King in Issa Rae’s critically acclaimed HBO series Insecure. The rising actor later landed the lead role as gang kingpin and businessman Dmitri Cimber in the 2018 horror film, The First Purge. In 2020 he starred in Young Isaac Jefferson Stella Meghie’s romance drama, The Photograph.
Jorge Lendeborg Jr.
Up-and-coming Afro Dominican actor Jorge Lendeborg Jr. has been on your watch list, although you may not have noticed. The burgeoning actor has starred in several popular projects, including Love, Simon, Hulu’s Wu-Tang: An American Saga, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and many more.
Black and Puerto Rican actor Allen Maldonado believes visibility is everything. In an interview with NBC News, the star opened up about bringing his Afro-Latino identity to life.
“I just think that visibility is everything. Representation is everything. And visual representation is even more powerful,” Maldonado told NBC News. “This is something that I’m embracing more — knowing that there’s a lot of people, a lot of Latinos that are just like me — Afro Latinos that have darker skin and want to be recognized. I’m honored to be part of that tribe.”
The seasoned actor is best known for his appearances in various television and movies, including Blackish, American Carnage, Netflix’s Project Power, and as Coach Long in ABC’s reboot of The Wonder Years.