RT Pride Rising Stars 2023 – from Kit Connor to Bella Ramsey
From a Heartstopper to a Grey's Anatomy doctor and a Star Wars villain, we have some wonderful stars to look to the future of this Pride Month 2023.
While Pride Month should always be focused on remembering the leaps and bounds the entertainment industry has made in the representation of LGBTQ+ people and those who fought for such changes, it is always important to also look to the future.
Last year, RadioTimes.com published a list of Pride Rising Stars for 2022 and this year it is time to recognise other stars who have set such wonderful examples for the LGBTQ+ community and leave us eagerly anticipating their next project.
Sadly, being such a role model can also bring with it a degree of toxicity alongside the admiration and adored work, but this only shows how inspiring some of these figures are to stand up and be their authentic selves.
So, for 2023's Pride Month, here are some wonderful rising stars to keep an eye on in the future.
RT Pride Rising Stars 2023 – from Kit Connor to Bella Ramsey
Ramsey is one of the biggest breakout stars of 2023, having co-led one of the most critically acclaimed series of the year, The Last of Us, alongside Pedro Pascal.
While their star has been on the rise since their first acting role – in a small, little-known series called Game of Thrones – it's The Last of Us which cemented their place as one of the foremost actors of the moment.
Ramsey, who is non-binary and uses the pronouns they/them and has been outspoken in calling for "more space" to be made for non-binary talent in awards categories, joined Game of Thrones as Lyanna Mormont in the HBO fantasy epic's sixth season. The character was initially intended to appear in one scene only, but their powerhouse performance impressed the showrunners such that Lyanna became a recurring role for the duration of the show.
Ramsey went on to win a BAFTA for their portrayal of beloved children's character Mildred Hubble in The Worst Witch and land roles on the big screen in the Renée Zellweger-starring Judy biopic and the Marcel Marceau biopic Resistance, opposite Jesse Eisenberg.
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The title role in Lena Dunham's Catherine Called Birdy in 2020 earned Ramsey praise from critics – hinting at what was to follow just months later when HBO's hotly-anticipated adaptation of the acclaimed The Last of Us games finally arrived.
Their portrayal of Ellie was fiery, vulnerable and nuanced, well and truly silencing the small but vocal group of game fans who had stirred up a backlash to the news of their casting. Particularly impactful was their portrayal of the thrills and heartache of Ellie's friendship and romance with Riley (played by Storm Reid) and the development of the father-daughter relationship with protagonist Joel.
With credits in two of the biggest HBO hits of the past decade – and an even more anticipated second season of The Last of Us in the works – Bella Ramsey's star may look to already have risen, but it's only getting started. Minnie Wright.
With the third season of Harlem on its way, audiences can look forward to more of Jerrie Johnson's ground-breaking character, Tye.
The hit show from Girls Trip co-writer Tracy Oliver revolves around the friendship of four Black women – Tye, Camille, Quinn and Angie – as they navigate life in the Upper Manhattan neighbourhood of New York.
Through Tye, a confident and successful entrepreneur behind a lesbian dating app, Johnson serves us accurate, joyful, and empowering Black queer representation. Tye might be the only gay character in the friendship group (apart from Quinn who comes out as bisexual at the end of season 1), but they steer the character far away from the stereotypical "gay best friend" trope we often see on screen.
Prior to Harlem, Johnson made their TV debut in Good Trouble and starred in the 2021 movie Mother's Milk, but 2023 truly feels like their moment. Molly Moss.
Katy M. O’Brian
It should come as no surprise that the team behind The Mandalorian couldn’t resist bringing Katy M O'Brian's Elia Kane (who we all presumed was dead) back for season 3 and making her a key part of the whole story.
Season 3 episode 3 of The Mandalorian, titled The Covenant and starring O'Brian alongside Omid Abtahi, took a big swing by departing almost entirely from Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu's story to focus on characters who we'd only briefly met before – Elia Kane and Dr Pershing.
It paid off in a big way, with O'Brian in particular giving a subtle and enthralling performance, in a story that was reminiscent of the widely-praised Andor. The twist at the end of the episode just shows how nuanced the actress's portrayal was – and why Kane needed to be a bigger part of the story across the season.
Outside of Mando, O'Brian's no stranger to sci-fi, with roles in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, The CW's Black Lightning, and Agents of SHIELD.
But it was her rare standalone episode in The Mandalorian that made so many people sit up and take notice. We cannot wait to see what she does next. Louise Griffin.
Everyone's talking about rising star Lukas Gage.
The actor most recently appeared in Netflix's You, where he played queer character Adam, a member of Joe Goldberg's (Penn Badgley) new wealthy and privileged circle of friends, amongst whom Joe grows certain there is a killer and sets out to track them down.
But it wasn't Gage's murder mystery scenes that caused a stir, but rather a scene where the sex-positive character dons goggles and receives a golden shower from another man.
Prior to appearing in You, Gage played multiple queer characters on TV shows including LGBTQ+ teen romantic comedy Love, Victor, in which he portrayed Derek – Victor's crush Benji's boyfriend – and The White Lotus. Gage has also appeared in Euphoria, playing a character who becomes the target of a sinister scheme perpetrated by Nate (Jacob Elordi).
With Gage having joined the cast of the new sci-fi movie Companion, we can't wait to see his next performance. Molly Moss.
Grey's Anatomy has always been a trailblazing series for representation and in the charismatic E.R. Fightmaster, the series found its first non-binary doctor.
Dr Kai Bartley is introduced as a charming, assured and determined researcher in their own right but their story came alive in the 18th season when their connection developed with everyone's favourite neurotic neurosurgeon Dr Amelia Shepherd (Caterina Scorsone).
Amelia and Kai's romance captured the imagination of fans and proved once again that steamy chemistry can defy all gender boundaries and expectations.
Fans of the pairing were no doubt devastated that the couple split in the recent 19th season, but we hope this is not the last we have seen of Bartley.
In the meantime, we are sure to see Fightmaster's rockstar cool vibes in other projects soon, having previously been a scene-stealer in the Hulu comedy Shrill. Also, does anyone have a better surname? Lewis Knight.
Did someone order a Negroni? Sbagliato? With prosecco in it?
Prior to their appearance on House of the Dragon, some fans were reluctant to get on board – after all, Milly Alcock's portrayal of the young Targaryen princess was spectacular. But after just one episode, all concerns were quashed, as D'Arcy burst onto screens with all the poise, cunning, wit, and fury that makes a Targaryen.
D'Arcy has countless standout moments in the Game of Thrones spin-off, but perhaps none more so than their final scene as Rhaenyra who, with her back to the camera, is left broken to learn about her son's death. As she turns to face us, her sorrow turns to fiery rage, in a mesmerising moment that will go down in Thrones history.
In just a few episodes, D'Arcy secured their reputation as a deeply sought-after talent and a force to be reckoned with. Louise Griffin.
Just as House of the Dragon would be nothing without its Princess, it would also be nothing without our Queen of the Greens, Alicent Hightower, who was played in her younger years by the great Emily Carey.
It would have been so easy to make Alicent a villainous figure and be done with it, but Carey's powerful performance throughout the season, her chemistry with Alcock, and her unpredictable moments are pure magic.
Carey has also spoken beautifully about the series, especially in response to 'queerbaiting' claims about the young Rhaenyra and Alicent, pointing out that they're figuring out their relationship at that stage in time.
In a similar vein to D'Arcy being a non-binary actor leading the show, Carey being a queer woman front and centre on one of the most popular and mainstream shows in the world is, in some ways, pretty inconsequential. But, for those who need that representation the most, its power also can't be underestimated. Louise Griffin.
Kit Connor is one of TV's most promising young stars.
The 19-year-old was catapulted to fame thanks to his Heartstopper character Nick Nelson, whose heart-warming romance with Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) hooked audiences around the world when the show debuted on Netflix last year.
Nick's storylines on Heartstopper smashed bisexual stereotypes and explored some of the challenges LGBTQ+ teens can face, such as bullying and the hardships that can be connected to coming out, whilst also showing a lot of queer joy.
Before bagging a role in Heartstopper, Connor had already showcased his dramatic abilities in shows including Channel 4 sitcom Chickens, SS-GB, War & Peace and Grantchester. He was also the soul of Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon, in His Dark Material, and played the teenage Elton John in the 2019 movie biopic Rocketman, which featured Taron Egerton as the older version of the singer-songwriter.
With Heartstopper season 2 fast approaching, (never mind the rumours that Connor could be joining the MCU), we can’t wait to see the star's next performance. Molly Moss.
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