You may recognize Franciosi from her powerful role in The Fall, playing the obsessive babysitter who becomes an accomplice to Jamie Dornan’s serial killer. After a stint in Game of Thrones and indie favorite The Nightingale, Franciosi blew critics away playing a paranoid nun in last year’s BBC drama Black Narcissus. And for 2021, Sandra Bullock has cast the actor in her next big movie, which is set to be Franciosi’s Hollywood breakthrough. “The most thrilling thing about working on the project was getting to work alongside creatives I have long admired,” she tells PORTER of shooting with the likes of Bullock, director Nora Fingscheidt and actors Viola Davis and Rob Morgan.
If, like the rest of the world, you were hooked on last year’s viral Netflix show The Queen’s Gambit, you’ll instantly recognize Ingram, who almost stole the limelight with her captivating performance as the childhood friend of lead Beth Harmon. Next up, Ingram has been cast as Lady Macduff in the Joel Coen (yes, of the Coen brothers) adaptation of Macbeth, alongside Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. Following a roller-coaster year, Ingram tells PORTER, “I’m hoping for things to make a little more sense, that we’re all at least… a little changed, a little less jaded, and a little more joyful. I hope we don’t forget what a year 2020 was, and that gratefulness keeps us grounded.”
Anyone with a mononym is sure to go on to great things and, inevitably, the indie scene is abuzz about Claud (surname, Mintz) – the very first signing to Phoebe Bridgers’ record label, Saddest Factory Records. Claud’s debut album, Super Monster (to be released in February), is a cool blend of pop, synths, emo – and even a sprinkle of disco – was recorded at Electric Lady Studios, where Jimi Hendrix also played. Looking ahead, Claud tells us, “2021 should be an interesting year. My album will come out, which is probably the most exciting thing for me. For the rest of the world, I think everyone is hoping that Covid becomes a bit more tamed. I’m looking forward to seeing family and friends that I haven’t seen in a year – and fingers crossed we can go to a concert or two.”
The Underground Railroad, based on Colson Whitehead’s bestselling book, is one of the most anticipated small-screen releases of 2021: it’s directed by Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), and has a huge budget from Amazon Studios behind it. All eyes are sure to be on the brilliant cast, with some amazing newcomers appearing in it – including Mbedu as the inspirational heroine, Cora. “Through Cora, we are able to see the limitlessness of humanity for what it is exactly: an amalgamation of the absolute bad, good and the deplorable, with a little bit of hope” says the actor, who gives a larger-than-life performance in her biggest role yet.
At the age of 30, Vally is the youngest ever architect to take on the prestigious commission of the Serpentine Pavilion in London, which – due to the pandemic delay – will be unveiled this summer. Along with Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar, her co-founders of Johannesburg-based collaborative studio Counterspace, she follows in the footsteps of the likes of Zaha Hadid in taking on the esteemed project. The pavilion is inspired by the idea of community gathering and will include components that will pop up in marginalized areas of the city.
As a successful recording artist herself, Day was destined for the role of Billie Holiday and, indeed, her portrayal of the legendary diva in The United States vs. Billie Holiday is already garnering widespread Oscar buzz. This blockbuster biopic, directed by awards-magnet Lee Daniels (who directed Precious and produced Monster’s Ball), promises to be a compelling and topical deep-dive into the turbulent relationship that Billie Holiday had with the FBI at the start of her career – and Day’s performance is set to be showstopping.
Holding your own next to Brad Pitt is no small feat, but Qualley was utterly enthralling as one of the Manson girls in 2019’s Once Upon A Time… in Hollywood. And 2021 is set to be even bigger for the actor – playing the lead in the Margot Robbie-produced Maid, and co-starring alongside her mother Andie MacDowell for the very first time. It’s set to be an iconic on-screen moment and a talking-point show you won’t want to miss. Qualley has also been tapped to play Ginger Rogers in the long-awaited biopic Fred & Ginger, alongside Jamie Bell as Astaire. Her star is firmly on the rise.
Madden is firmly on course to become a household name when her next project, Amazon’s The Wheel of Time (based on the cult books), hits screens later this year. Catch her alongside Rosamund Pike in this fantasy series, dubbed the next Game of Thrones, which already has a hardcore fan base chomping at the bit for its release. Also a committed activist, Madden works to protect the rights of indigenous people in her homeland, Australia.
Mbue’s 2016 debut novel, Behold the Dreamers, became a New York Times bestseller, captivating readers and critics alike with its poignant portrayal of an immigrant family’s dream of life in the United States. In her second release, How Beautiful We Were, the author turns her haunting tone to a wrenching story of struggle and freedom set in the fictional African village of Kosawa.
When Frances McDormand signs up to be the lead, you know the movie’s director must be something special. Certainly, Zhao has established herself as something of a cult filmmaker, earning a reputation for her uniquely finessed blend of documentary with fiction. Not only is her latest release, Nomadland, grabbing both the critics’ and awards boards’ attention, but, later this year, she will bring the huge superhero Marvel franchise The Eternals to life.
Brooklyn-based artist Pierre has made her name across the art world with distinctive, ethereal works that draw from religious readings and her own life. Having taken up a 2019/2020 residency at the Studio Museum in Harlem, her three-person exhibition, This Longing Vessel, opened at MoMA PS1 in December and will run to March, with her immersive installation exploring Black desire, life and spirituality. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
Greentea Peng is the curious stage name of Aria Wells, the smokey-voiced, self-dubbed “psychedelic R&B” singer from south London. The Streets’ Mike Skinner has already tapped her to sing on one of his records, British pianist and presenter Jools Holland is a huge fan, and she’s been nominated for the prestigious BBC Music Sound of 2021 award (former winners include Adele and Celeste). Make sure you’re ahead of the curve and get up to speed on her back-catalogue of singles before her debut album drops in the spring.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Tzemach Lemmon is a true master of female narratives, creating gripping, close-to-home stories about the female experience in hostile political environments. Her leading ladies are heroic; standing up against male brutality and forging a new order – something that has taken on added resonance in recent years. We’re not the only ones fixated by her words: Reese Witherspoon is producing her novel Ashley’s War for Universal Studios, and Hillary and Chelsea Clinton have acquired the rights to her follow-up novel The Daughters of Kobani, which she releases in February. “We’ve heard a lot of discussion in the last few years about the power of women’s stories and this is the year when talk turns to tipping point,” the author tells PORTER. “In 2021, I am excited to see our screens, our pages and our podcasts reflect the realities of women’s lives in all their glorious complexity. And I look forward to the day when we look back at all the progress we made in 2021 as paving the way for ‘women’s stories’ to be seen simply as stories – adjective-free, universal, and meaningful to us all.”
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