2017 Fall TV Preview: Meet the 9 Breakout Stars You Need to Know!
By Jennifer Drysdale
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Fall TV is finally here, and so is a fresh batch of talent we can't get enough of. From Star Trek: Discovery to Young Sheldon, this year's freshman series are kicking it up a notch and allowing new faces to really shine.
ET is breaking down the nine breakout stars whose names you need to know this fall. Take note!
In ABC's new comedy, Hall plays an up-and-coming rapper, Courtney Rose, who runs for office as a way to drum up publicity for his music career -- and we have a feeling the premiere of The Mayor will do the same for its star. Hall, who only has a handful of credits to his name, the most recent being on TBS' Search Party, draws other parallels to his character: He's charismatic, magnetic and a complete breath of fresh air.
Unlike his character, however, Hall couldn't be more prepared for his success. While the series' first episode sees Courtney struggle with the newfound responsibilities of his role -- leaning on his chief of staff (Lea Michele) and mother (Yvette Nicole Brown) for support -- the Juilliard grad couldn't be more of a perfect fit for the acting and rapping parts of his new gig. Hall definitely has our vote.
The Mayor, inspired in part by Chance the Rapper and executive produced by Hamilton's Daveed Diggs, premieres Oct. 3 on ABC.
Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery, CBS All Access)
Martin-Green stars in one of the season's most highly anticipated roles in one of the season's most highly anticipated shows -- and she definitely delivers. The Walking Dead star has taken her zombie-fighting abilities to a whole other galaxy in the Star Trek series, the first of the franchise to feature a first officer (and female!) rather than a captain in a lead role. Martin-Green plays Michael Burnham, the adopted sister of Spock, and the first human to attend the Vulcan Science Academy.
It's a powerful role for Martin-Green, who told ET that she hopes her character helps women "see their potential." "We know our power, but to see it in action is very empowering," she explained. "I hope that it expands people's thinking -- especially young girls -- [and] stretches out the edges of their parameters, and knocks down some of those walls."
In just a few months, Armitage has managed to graduate from first to ninth grade -- and plays them both amazingly well. The 9-year-old actor kept fans guessing as Ziggy Chapman on HBO's Big Little Lies last spring, and just a few months later he has us trying to keep up as a young Sheldon Cooper in CBS' Big Bang Theory spinoff.
The comedy's first episode perfectly introduces the character Jim Parsons brought to life, as fans meet Sheldon just before he starts high school, a situation that provides the familiar hilarity of a genius' approach to everyday situations that Big Bang fans are used to. For such a young actor, Armitage perfectly nails the show's mature humor, proving he's just as much of a prodigy as the character he plays on screen -- though that's not exactly news to him. "[I'm an expert at] tap dancing, magic tricks," he told ET CBS' TCA party last month, "and theater."
Young Sheldon premieres Sept. 25 on CBS.
Emma Dumont (The Gifted, Fox)
Twenty-two-year-old Dumont is best known to fans for her role on Amy Sherman-Palladino's Bunheads, but five years later, she's barely recognizable on Fox's The Gifted. Dumont plays Lorna Dane aka Polaris in the X-Men series, a mutant with an edge whose abilities allow her to control magnetism. (Sound familiar? In the comics, Polaris' father is none other than Magneto.)
While The Gifted centers on a family on the run after they discover their children's mutant abilities, it's Dumont's portrayal that really sticks out. The actress gives Polaris the loyal-but-tortured edge you'd expect from the daughter of Magneto, and is just as mesmerizing to watch as the aurora produced by her character's powers.
Looks like she learned a thing or two on UnReal, because Kelley is serving up drama in surplus on The CW's Dynasty reboot. The 32-year-old actress is perhaps best known to fans as Grace, UnReal's season one runner-up -- but this time, she actually gets the guy, and his family too!
Like the original series, the Dynasty reboot begins with heiress Fallon Carrington (Elizabeth Gillies) finding out her mogul father, Blake (Grant Show), is engaged to an employee, Cristal (Kelley) -- and while Cristal at first seems like a fish out of water in a family of manipulative power plays, it quickly becomes clear that she's got a few tricks up her sleeve (and skeletons in her closet). The series makes several changes from the original to bring it up to speed, most notably to Cristal's race -- and Kelley's portrayal proves that sometimes newer is better. With just one episode, Kelley will have you hooked.
Dynasty premieres Oct. 11 on The CW.
Gus HalperandMiles Gaston Villanueva (Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, NBC)
Could Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders be the next The People v. O.J Simpson? NBC certainly cast it that way. The series' star is no doubt Edie Falco, but it's the actors playing the Menendez brothers who really carry the show. Yes, Halper and Villaneuva look remarkably similar to Erik and Lyle Mendez, respectively, but it's their ability to portray the complexities of the siblings who ignited a media storm after being convicted for the 1989 murder of their wealthy parents that really makes their performances believable.
"I personally wasn't familiar at all with the case when I got the audition," Halper, who has just a few credits to his name, told TV Guide. (Villaneuva, meanwhile, is slightly older and best known for runs on Days of Our Lives and The Young and the Restless.) "I wasn't born yet when this happened. I was grateful for that, to come at it with a fresh pair of eyes and not be influenced by the media frenzy and all the prejudice against them." Consider us guilty of tuning into this one!
Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders premieres Sept. 26 on NBC.
Kimberly Hébert Gregory (Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, ABC)
Kevin (Jason Ritter) can't get Yvette (Gregory) out of his head in ABC's newest dramedy, and neither can we! Gregory was seemingly meant to play Yvette in the show, a role that -- fun fact! -- was originally played by Cristela Alonzo in the pilot. Though Gregory has been acting on television for a decade (and in theater for longer), her most notable role came as Dr. Belinda Brown on Vice Principals -- a role she reprises in the second season, which is now airing on HBO.
Now, the 44-year-old actress is preaching to the masses as a "messenger from God" sent to help Kevin save the world -- and she definitely knows what she's talking about. Gregory, who has a bachelor's in psychology and a master's in social work, serves as the show's conscience and moral guiding light, telling Kevin exactly what he needs to hear with the perfect amount of humor. "It's a moment to stay woke! It's a moment to regain our optimism and our hope," Gregory told ET at ABC's TCA press day last month.
Kevin (Probably) Saves the World premieres Oct. 3 on ABC.
Alice Englert (Top of the Lake: China Girl, SundanceTV)
If working with your mom seems difficult, try working with three of them! Englert did just that on season two of SundanceTV drama, which was created, written and directed by her mother, Jane Campion. Though it wasn't the 24-year-old actress' first time in one of her mother's projects, this time, she was placed in a role opposite Nicole Kidman (playing her adoptive mother, Julia) and Elisabeth Moss (portraying her birth mother, Robin) -- and held her own.
Englert's character, Mary, in Top of the Lake: China Girl, doesn't just become an additional layer to Robin's personal life; she becomes an integral part of Robin's detective work as she investigates the death of an unidentified girl who washes up in a suitcase on Australia's Bondi Beach. The role requires a layered, complex performance that Englert told ET her mom knew she could deliver.
"She said she knew me as an actress and what I was capable," Englert revealed. "And I trust her so completely that any time she'd want me to do anything, I'd be up for it." While Top of the Lake: China Girl wrapped on Sept. 12, we can't wait to see what Englert does next.
Top of the Lake: China Girl is now streaming on Hulu and is available on demand.