5 Breakout Performances to Have on Your Radar This Summer

Like rooftop cocktails at sunset or the ocean breeze on a scorching day, a good watch in the throes of summer just hits differently. It’s cooling off while binge-watching that guilty-pleasure show everyone is talking about, tuning into a raunchy BFF comedy with your bestie after brunch, and returning to the theaters for a buzzy blockbuster—perfection if you ask me. So which films and TV shows are worth adding to your queue these next couple of months? Lucky for you, I’m back with another Ones to Watch portfolio.

Here’s what you need to know: The five ladies featured here are delivering some of the season’s most exciting performances. Some are notable newcomers (ahem, Kuhoo Verma and Hailey Kilgore), some are TV series favorites (looking at you, Meg DeLacy and Madison Lintz), some are scene-stealing savants (hi, Jessica Sula), and all should be on your radar right now. But before you dive into each of their fantastic projects, it’s time to get to know these rising stars a bit better, including the covetable pieces on their summer shopping lists.


(Image credit: Heather Gildroy)

WHO: Meg DeLacy

WHAT: A superhero story with badass women at the forefront is something we can always get behind, and that’s exactly what the DC universe delivered with its CW series Stargirl. The critically acclaimed show follows high school student Courtney Whitmore, who—after discovering the Cosmic Staff of Starman—leads a whole new generation of superheroes. While we love a wholesome protagonist, Meg DeLacy’s performance as villainess Cindy Burman is, hands down, one of our favorites on the show. Mean-girl antics aside, DeLacy brings a level of complexity and vulnerability to the character that is not to be missed. Lucky for you, season one is streaming now on HBO Max, giving you plenty of time to catch up before the second season hits on August 10. 

I think fans are going to love season two of Stargirl because… Not only do we get a more intense level of action this season, but the audience will also get more of an understanding and deep dive into each character, their true origin stories, and why they are the way they are. The dynamic of our heroes and villains working together gets very interesting.

Getting to play a character like Cindy is… A mixture of exciting, flavorful, and challenging. I have so much fun peeling back the layers and adding myself into the mix. Finding a grounding while taking her to a real place in a make-believe world and portraying that clearly on-screen is the challenging part, yet it has taught me the most. And getting to play a villain with zero apologies is the best thing ever.

I am probably most similar to Cindy in that… Other than the fact that I would probably wear all of her clothes, I am most similar to Cindy as she is a human with real insecurities just like the rest of us. It’s what makes her lash out. This realistic factor helped me genuinely combine a Meg/Cindy mix in specific moments this season. 

One of my favorite moments filming Stargirl has to be… In episode six, we have a major fight sequence that involves all of the teen heroes and villains. Shooting that was the most fun, being together again for the first time on-screen. My fittings for Cindy were also insane. Our wardrobe designer/stylist Alisha Silverstein killed it and took Cindy to a whole other level with a mix of luxe, classy, and seductive tones. 

The stories or projects that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… The excitement I find in this industry, I believe, lives within the people you work with. Creating, and especially collaborating, with other professionals in all different facets of this industry is one of my favorite things to do. It's also what I learn from the most. So when they are humble and genuinely kind human beings that lift you and everyone else up and remain team players, this job becomes the richest playground.

Outside of acting, some of my other passions include… Writing and recording music in the studio with my producers. I am also a huge thrift girl. 

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… My black mini Fleur du Mal silk robe or my oversize Grumpy Cat tee. 

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… Silk anything, honestly. I just rediscovered silk layers. Also, an exotic earring. I got my ears pierced a few months ago and am super new to the game, so I've been obsessed.

My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…


(Image credit: Robb Klassen )

WHO: Jessica Sula

WHAT: If you haven’t binged the thriller Panic yet, what are you waiting for? The Amazon Prime series—which is based on the YA novel by Lauren Oliver about a group of recent high school graduates who compete in a dangerous game to win a ticket out of their small town—is the perfect summer watch. A series of high-stakes competitions, ship-worthy romances, and plot twists play out across 10 gripping episodes that feature a cool, young Hollywood cast. Among the star players is Jessica Sula, who is exceptional as the assured and enigmatic Natalie Williams. Can you trust Natalie? That’s the beauty of Sula’s performance: She’ll keep you guessing the entire time. 

Panic is the perfect summer series for anyone looking to watch… Something fun and thrilling. It is a great distraction from our current reality. Very bingeable.

The thing I really love about this story is… The world that Lauren created. These young people just wanted to escape and devised something of their own. They created a dysfunctional community for themselves and made their own rules. 

I am most like my character Natalie in that… I think we are both steadily ambitious. Natalie is much more certain than I am. 

If I came across the game Panic in real life, I would probably… Be eliminated in the first round. However, I really have to stress that nobody should play this. It is not real!

The stories or projects that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… I would love to be part of more diverse stories and have a chance to play a range of characters. I want to push myself constantly. At the same time, I'm learning to be content with the way things unfold and just happy to be working with others who are kind and passionate about what they do.

A rewarding moment in my career thus far has been… Honestly, just being able to work is great. Sometimes, it is hard to see [yourself] ever being employed again, so to be hired on something with people you love is the most rewarding.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… I love vintage tees, jeans, and some Converse. I like an off-duty ’70s teen look [and] hope to be Julia Roberts in the ’90s—very understated (to some, maybe boring, haha). I love all the Christy Dawn and Dôen dresses. It was something that would cheer me up during the first major lockdown, just putting on a dress and watching Real Housewives

The people and/or fashion accounts I love to follow are… I love @simplicitycity, @noordinarynoire, @miakang, and my mate @alanacloudrobinson. Alana is fabulous, and I love her aesthetic.

My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…


(Image credit: Francis Hills)

WHO: Kuhoo Verma

WHAT: What happens when a young woman can’t get access to the morning-after pill? She grabs her best friend and embarks on a hijinks-filled road trip. That’s the premise behind the Hulu gem Plan B, which I can’t recommend enough. The comedy is a snarky-good time with two fantastic heroines offering plenty of laughs and heart. One half of that duo is newcomer Kuhoo Verma, who made her on-screen debut in 2017’s The Big Sick. As reserved high schooler Sunny, she puts on an electric performance that showcases her natural wit and leading-lady prowess. Better keep an eye on this one.

I can’t wait for people to see Plan B because… It's relatable, raunchy, and ridiculous.

At its core, Plan B is a film about… Friendship and basic healthcare. 

One of my favorite moments filming Plan B was… Spiraling into laughter with Josh Ruben and Bobby Tisdale and making up a lot of inappropriate songs in between takes.

I am most similar to my character Sunny in that… I am stubborn to a fault. 

The stories or projects that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… Oftentimes created by master collaborators and listeners. 

The people in this business I look up to most are… Inclusive in their daily practices and able to validate all artistic opinions. 

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… An oversize MTV graphic tee, jeans, and Air Force Ones. 

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… Anything that looks like I'm drowning in fabric. 

My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…


WHO: Hailey Kilgore

WHAT: This is Hailey Kilgore’s summer. The 22-year-old, who earned a Tony nomination for her performance in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island, is hitting screens big and small with not one but two big projects over the next two months. First up, she has Power Book III: Raising Kanan, the prequel series of Starz’s popular Power franchise, where she is stepping into the role of young Jukebox, Kanan’s strong-willed confidant whose tomboy sensibilities bring to mind ’90s icons such as Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, and Aaliyah. Following Power Book III’s July 18 premiere, Kilgore will have you singing and groovin’ when she joins Jennifer Hudson in the highly anticipated Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, in theaters August 13, as Carolyn, Franklin’s younger sister, co-collaborator, and backup singer. 

I was especially excited to join the Power franchise in Power Book III: Raising Kanan because… I remember I was in the middle of filming my first film, Respect. We had these crazy-long shoot days, and I was having so much fun I was rarely checking my email! We were in the middle of a scene, and I got a text from my manager about this really cool role in the Power prequel, and her name was Jukebox (geniusly originated by Anika Noni Rose, one of my idols). I freaked out and immediately did a self-tape and asked for updates every day. I even begged my team to ask to get me out of filming for a day to fly to New York for a test with the producers. When they told me I booked it, I cried like a baby.

I am probably most like my Power Book III character Jukebox in that… Juke is such a badass. She is talented, quick, and street-smart. Most importantly, she has heart and is willing to do the work. I grew up really motivated and love being an overachiever. I love the hustle that life brings, and so does Juke. I also think we are both very emotionally deep people, and we have so much to give, even if we don’t know how sometimes. It has been really therapeutic playing this role, for sure.

The series is set in the early ’90s, and some of my favorite Jukebox looks are… Jukebox is my fashion alter ego. We are complete opposites when it comes to fashion, which is so funny! Juke is the ultimate tomboy (baggy clothes, no makeup, hair in a braid, chillin’). She is a part of the Lo-Life Crew, so she’s always rocking Ralph Lauren Polo gear. My favorite jacket is the red-and-blue fleece jacket, and my outfits are never complete without a fresh pair of Timbs.

My fondest memory working on the film Respect is… Really, it was just the glamour of it all! The fashion, the hair, the makeup, everything. It was always so much fun every morning when the cast would walk on to set and just transform. It was so cool to really step back in time and just play. It felt like the best cookout every day! I really miss everybody.

My favorite musical number in the film, hands down, is… Uhhh, don’t do that to meeee! If I had to choose, I would say—only because I have to choose one —"Respect.” Really because the sequence, which was brilliantly written by Tracey Scott Wilson, was just so beautifully executed and so honest. It starts with the three sisters around the piano discovering the re-creation of the song originally recorded by Otis Redding. Then, the song really takes off! It was so magical in that studio that the energy was crazy. Everyone was singing and jumping around the room. Ms. Franklin's spirit was there. We could really feel it!! Amazing.

The stories or projects that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… I have discovered over the years that I am a sucker for simplistic realism. Just tell a real story and let the character navigate and feel naturally. I am a really huge fan of Ari Aster, Ava Duvernay, and Lena Waithe. Everything is so honest and different. I love that this new wave of producers and writers are pushing the walls of the "stereotype” box and bringing raw and unique stories to the table. People really connect to that stuff, and as an artist, it is so exciting.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… I am always in athleticwear, or I am serving a full lewk. There’s no in between for me. You will see me in a lot of Naked Wardrobe, Free People, and Joah Brown.

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… I am such a girly girl, so I love anything feminine and formfitting. I love going out, too, so lots of dresses and jumpsuits. Interestingly enough, in the last few months, I have been incorporating a lot of tomboy elements into my looks thanks to Jukebox. So a lot more streetwear and mixing and matching my formfitting favorites with baggy jeans or pants. Think very Aaliyah ’90s vibes.

My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces...


(Image credit: Austin Hargrave)

WHO: Madison Lintz

WHAT: The Amazon Prime detective series Bosch is coming to an end with its upcoming seventh season (tear!), which is a bittersweet moment for its star Madison Lintz. The 22-year-old practically grew up before our eyes, delivering one impressive performance after another as Harry Bosch’s daughter, Madeline. Lucky for Maddie fans, her story doesn’t end here. Earlier this spring, it was announced Lintz will reprise her beloved role in a spin-off for IMDb TV, which begins filming later this year.

With the seventh and final season of Bosch premiering this summer, I’m feeling… Extraordinarily grateful. That set has been my home for the past six years. The cast and crew have been my family. There is no other experience in my life that I cherish more than my time playing Maddie Bosch, and there is more to come…

Having grown up on this project, the biggest thing I learned about myself as an actor has been… While there are many, many things I have learned so far, the best is probably, "Know your lines, and beat the page.”

I am probably most similar to my character Maddie in that… I feel like our name is our only similarity! She is so driven and ballsy. 

When I heard we were doing a Bosch spin-off, I… To be honest, I cried. Every day I get to be an actress, I consider myself lucky. I could hardly believe it!

The stories or projects that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… Movies based off of a book series. They can bring your favorite childhood stories to life. The thought of turning a book character into a movie (or a series) has always been incredible to think about. Also anything with Florence Pugh in it.

The women in this business I look up to most are… Mimi Rogers, Honey Chandler on Bosch, who is also my mom away from home. She helped me figure out my mail-in ballot so I could vote and showed me where to buy zinc on Amazon. Katelyn Nacon, my talented, compassionate roommate, and then, of course, Florence Pugh. [She is] out-of-this-world talented, her style is killer, and she also makes the best cooking Instagram Stories. I could go on and on.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… Cozy matching sets/jammies. You can get super-cute ones on sale at Nordstrom Rack.

The people and/or fashion accounts I love to follow are… I have a huge Pinterest board titled Outfits to Be Assembled. I go there anytime I need inspiration. 

My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…

Next: Our Hot Take on the Emerging Musicians to Know Now

Executive Director, Entertainment

Jessica Baker is Who What Wear’s Executive Director, Entertainment, where she ideates, books, writes, and edits celebrity and entertainment features.