Whether they started in commercials, movies, or television series, each actress on this list got her start somewhere. What began as a dream in her head eventually became real when she starred in her first role.
Each young woman featured in this lineup of black teenage actresses is beautiful and powerful in their own right, achieving personal wins that have also revolutionized the movie and television industry. These are some young black queens making calculated moves to excel in film and reality television acting.
Birthplace: Champaign, Illinois
Best Known Role: Playing Jess in the Netflix series, “Archive 81” (2022).
Ariana Neal started acting in various commercials at five years old. Her first recorded film appearance was in “Footloose” as a Military Kid, but it was uncredited.
Neal played Tatiana in “Fruitvale Station” and young Lisa Lopes in the “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story” television movie both in 2013. She also played Joylette Johnson in “Hidden Figures”.
Besides her acting abilities, she has a musical side. Neal can play the piano and acoustic guitar and sings beautifully. She has risen in popularity on Instagram with 15,000 Instagram followers.
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Best Known Role: Tess Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us” (2016).
Eris Baker won a Screen Actors Guild award in 2019 for “This Is Us” which she shared with the other actors. Because of her fame, Baker now has 94,000 Instagram followers.
She has also starred in“Alexa & Katie” as Michelle (2018) and “Dispel” as Lizzie (2019). For her acting roles, Baker has received many nominations. In 2018, Gold Derby TV Awards nominated the cast of “This Is Us” for Best Ensemble of the Year.
Then, the 2019 BronzeLens Film Festival nominated her for Best Actress. Baker has also received nominations for the Image Award for NAACP and Pena de Prata. For 2018 and 2019, she earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series that she shared with all the “This Is Us” cast members.
Birthplace: San Diego, California
Best Known Role: Annie Pearson on “This Is Us” (2016).
Faithe Herman began young in the entertainment industry at age 4 when she began with Kids Management as her agent with her parental approval. Two auditions in 2015 landed her the role of Annie Pearson on NBC’s “This Is Us”.
Besides her key role on the hit NBC television series, Faithe Herman is well known for playing on “Shazam!” (2019) as Darla Dudley. Herman appeared in a mini-series, “Watchmen” (2019), and had a guest appearance in Criminal Mind (2016).
Birthplace: Miami, Florida
Best Known Role: Abra Stone in the film, “Doctor Sleep” (2015)
Kayleigh Curran started in the entertainment industry at age seven. She performed in the regional theater’s Actor’s Playhouse and Miracle Theatre.
Her vital role as Abra Stone in the film, “Doctor Sleep” earned her a 2021 Saturn Award for the Best Performance for a Young Actor. She also won the MCFCA Award for Best Young Actress in 2020 because of her role in the film.
Curran went on to play young Nala in 2017 for “The Lion King” Broadway musical. Besides acting, she loves to dance, sing, and write and practices veganism because of her environmentally conscious mindset.
Birthplace: Cheverly, Maryland
Best Known Role: Pearl Warren on the hit Hulu series, “Little Fires Everywhere ”.
Lexi Underwood and Kayleigh Curran share something in common. They both played young Nala on Broadway. Underwood played young Nala during The Lion King Tour on Broadway in 2017.
She won the 2020 Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie/Limited Series. Underwood was nominated for the Image Award for Outstanding Performance by a Youth in 2021.
She was Athena in “Will Vs the Future”. Underwood acted as Malia Obama on “The First Lady” and Kiara King in “Sneakerella” that both released in 2022.
Birthplace: Evergreen Park, Illinois
Best Known Role: Deja Pearson in NBC’s “This Is Us” (2016).
A third member of the reality Pearson family is in our lineup of black teenage actresses. She won the Screen Actor Guild Award in 2019 for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. She shared the award with the other “This Is Us” stars.
Ross appears in six episodes of “Ironheart” and “Wendell and Wild” as the voice of Kat. She has received seven nominations from the BET Awards, Image Awards (NAACP), Pena de Prata, and the Teen Choice Awards.
Birthplace: Plano, Texas
Best Known Role: Diane Johnson in the ABC hit television series, “Black-ish” (2014).
Born Cailsa Marsai Martin, she is better known as Marsai Martin. She got her start in entertainment on the television series, “Black-ish” (2014). She also played in the 2016 movie, “An American Girl Story-Melody 1963: Love Has to Win”.
She took the world by storm when she was the youngest person to produce a film when she released the comedy “Little” in 2019. Later in 2019, she was featured in the “Time 100 Next” via Time Magazine.
Birthplace: Kensal Rise, London
Best Known Role: Milly Farrier in the Walt Disney movie “Dumbo” (2019).
Nico Parker was born to an actress, Thandiwe Newton, and a screenwriter, Ol Parker. Hence, it was only natural that she embarked on the acting journey behind the camera.
Since her role as Millie in “Dumbo” (2019), she gained recognition as a successful black teenage actress. Parker later starred as Zoe in “Reminiscence” (2021) and will be starring as Sarah Miller in “The Last Of Us” when it releases in 2023.
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia
Best Known Role: Erica Sinclair on the Netflix series, “Stranger Things” (2016).
Priah Ferguson became interested in acting when she saw “Daddy’s Little Girls” and “Crooklyn”. She started her entertainment career lightly, starring in independent films in 2015.
Between 2016 to 2017, Ferguson starred in “Mercy Street”, a Civil War-based drama show, and an FX original show “Atlanta”. When she guest-starred in season two of “Stranger Things”, she was brought back in a recurring role for the third season.
Birthplace: Houma, Louisiana
Best Known Role: Hushpuppy in the drama flick, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (2012).
Quvenzhane Wallis was ready to act at age five and did not wait until she was age six to audition for “Beasts of the Southern Wild”. Lying about her age to be admitted into auditions set her career off on the right foot as she was the one chosen out of 4,000 little ones to star as Hushpuppy.
Besides acting, Wallis is a published author with four books. The books are titled “Shai & Emmie Star in: Break an Egg!”, “A Night Out with Mama”, “Shai & Emmie Star in: Dancy Pants!”, and “Shai & Emmie Star in: To the Rescue.”
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
Best Known Role: Charlotte on the Nickelodeon reality television series, “Henry Danger” (2014).
Riele Downs starred in her first movie at age three when she starred as Amelia Mercer in the 2005 film, “Four Brothers”. She later starred in a few reality television series and voiceovers for cartoons between 2008 to 2010 before starring in “The Best Man Holiday” (2013).
Because of her notable role in “Henry Danger”, she was nominated for Favorite Female TV Star for the 2020 Kids Choice Awards. Most recently, she was a guest star on the reboot of “All That” starring herself in 2019.
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
Best Known Role: Raynell in “Fences” (2016).
Saniyya Sidney became active in 2012 when she started acting in independent films. Her numerous nominations include the Screen Actors Guild Awards twice, the NAACP Image Award, Critics’ Choice Awards twice, and the Black Reel Awards three times.
Her career blossomed when she cast the role of Raynell in “Fences” (2016). She received one of her Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations thanks to starring in this film.
Sidney’s most recent work was starring Amy Bellafonte in “The Passage” (2019) and acting as young Venus Williams in “King Richard” (2021) which earned her more nominations from Black Reel and Critics’ Choice Movie Award.
Shahadi Wright Joseph
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York
Best Known Role: Zora Wilson in Jordan Peele’s horror movie called, “Us” (2019).
Before her notable role in Jordan Peele’s horror film, Shahadi Wright Joseph began her entertainment ventures at the young age of two by learning how to dance. When she was in third grade, she auditioned for a play with Lupita Nyong’o’s Academy Award Speech as the basis for her audition.
Her role as Zora in the horror film also earned her two nominations including a Critics’ Choice Movie Award and a Saturn Award. Joseph went on to voice young Nala in the Disney computer-animated film “The Lion King” during the same year that the horror film was released.
Birthplace: Staten Island, New York
Best Known Role: Zuri Ross on “Jessie” from 2011 to 2015
In 2016, Skai Jackson became featured as one of the individuals in Time Magazine’s highly influential teenagers. She starred on two Disney channel shows for a total of 7 years. First, Skai played Zuri Ross on “Jessie” from 2011 to 2015, and the sequel to that show, “Bunk’d” from 2015 to 2018.
Before she became a Disney star, she started young in the entertainment and the beauty industry as a baby model. She has garnered 7.9 million followers on her Instagram.
Jackson’s acting and YouTube stardom led her to write a book, “Reach for the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback”. How is that for a play on words?
Birthplace: Scottsdale, Arizona
Best Known Role: Buffy Driscoll in the Disney Channel original comedy series, “Andi Mack” (2017).
Sofia Wylie has gained prominence starring in different Disney series and television films beyond her most notable role in “Andi Mack” (2017). She starred as Corey Bailey in the film, “Back of the Net” (2019). During the same year, Wylie starred as Mia Brooks in the web series called “Shook” and as Riri Williams (superhero name as Ironheart) in the animated “Marvel Rising” franchise.
Later in 2022, Sofia Wylie will be starring in “The School for Good and Evil”. It is set to release on Netflix on June 6, 2022.
Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia
Best Known Role: Gia Bennett in the HBO Max series, “Euphoria” (2017).
Storm Reid’s first role was a cameo in the 2012 film, “A Cross to Bear”. She starred in “12 Years A Slave” a year later. Her performance in the 2016 superhero flick “Sleight” helped her gain recognition black teenage actress.
The climax of her filming career was her role in the 2018 film “A Wrinkle in Time” where she earned some nominations. These nominations included the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Role in a Motion Picture and the Teen Choice Award for Choice Fantasy Movie Actress.
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Best Known Role: Amira in “The Last O.G.” (2018)
Taylor Mosby continues to revolutionize the television industry in two other key roles she has played beyond Amira in “The Last O.G.” (2018). She stars as Chayla in the film, “Breakthrough” (2019) who is one of John’s companions. John is the main character in the movie.
Mosby also stars in the “Thunderforce” (2021) as Tracy who is a stellar genius that graduated from Stanford when she was only age 14. She has a recurring role as the younger Miranda Bailey in “Grey’s Anatomy” (2005).
Top Black Teenage Actresses, Final Thoughts
We hope you enjoyed this lineup of black teenage actresses who are changing modern-day entertainment for the rest of the sisters in the industry. Who did you know already? Which young actress did you not realize was in a movie or television show you recently watched until you read this article? Let us know in the comments!