Consider summer 2018 the summer of big breaks. Because while new TV shows and major motion pictures are quite typical of the season, there’s an especially exciting roster of new talent whose names are probably not on your radar. But take our word for it: They’re about to be.
In an effort to get to know some of the coolest up-and-coming actresses, we narrowed it down to the six women below. Some are soon-to-be darlings of HBO, Starz, and TV bingers everywhere while others find themselves in an ensemble alongside Rihanna (casual, no?).
From The Handmaid’s Tale's mysterious child role to onscreen adaptations of your favorite best sellers to the newest Ocean’s 8 co-star, the women ahead may still fly slightly under the radar, but not for long. Read on, learn their names, read up on their favorite style and memories from set, and then make an excuse to skip the beach one day in exchange for some quality screentime.
WHAT: After this summer, Awkwafina will be so widely recognized you’ll figure the bottled water brand was named for her. And such acclaim for the rapper turned actress—whose name is technically Nora Lum—comes by way of two massive film debuts, including June’s Ocean’s 8, in which Awkwafina joins Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, and pretty much all your favorite actresses of the moment for the classic heist series. Her résumé also gets a major boost with the release of the long-awaited movie adaptation of the best-selling Crazy Rich Asians in August.
The biggest challenge in portraying Constance (in Ocean’s 8) compared to Goh Peik Lin (in Crazy Rich Asians) is… Both characters were so different. Constance is a street shark, so I definitely had to learn a few tricks and had to be a lot more coordinated than I am naturally. Playing Peik Lin was an adventure of its own, but it wasn’t bad playing an insanely rich person with a wardrobe I could never afford.
The most surprising trait Constance and I share is… We are both Queens girls, and we both share a very similar fashion sense.
One invaluable thing I’ve done to prepare for a role this year… Learn how to make a card disappear. This is a trick that I will forever whip out at parties.
My favorite outfit I’ve ever worn on set would have to be… My couture pajamas on the set of Crazy Rich Asians will be deeply missed.
However, if you catch me on an off-duty day, chances are I’m wearing… Target pants with Timbs.
My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces… Red Gucci fanny pack. Canal Street sunglasses. Klean Kanteen water bottle.
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Anais & Wade
WHO: Melissa Barrera
WHAT: While Barrera may be new to L.A., she’s not new to the entertainment industry. At all. In fact, Barrera’s had a long career in TV, specifically in her home country of Mexico, before her debut this spring as Lyn on Starz’s provocative series Vida. It’s also sparkling tons of conversation as it explores Latinx and queer identity through the story of two sisters coping with the sudden death of their mother. Sounds like a viable binge-watching option to us.
The biggest challenge in portraying Lyn in Vida is… Learning to be as comfortable as she is with her body and her sexuality.
One invaluable thing I’ve done to prepare for a role this year… I took several trips to the East Side [of Los Angeles] to get familiar with the area and the community. On my first trip, I ended up spending the afternoon with a local who I met walking around and his entire family, grandparents, nieces, and nephews included. They welcomed me into their home and shared their stories and their carne asada with me. It was an amazing day that showed me the true spirit of the Latinx people in the United States and made me feel even more passionate about Vida, about representing this community on television.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from a castmate is… Actually, a piece of advice that I received early on in my career in Mexico, and I am so thankful that I did because it has kept me, I believe, moving forward constantly and avoid getting distracted by those outside voices that try to stray you from your path. Let your work speak for you.
My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three summer pieces… High-rise jean shorts from Levi’s. I can wear them with cropped tops, bra tops, or regular T-shirts, and they sit very comfortably around my waist.
My Toni snap front cropped top from By the Way. I am a sucker for cropped tops and basics, and this is the perfect combo of both.
The cutout one-piece in vintage yellow from Forever 21. I love it because it has simple lines, it feels like a high-waisted bikini, which is great for people like me that have shorter legs and a long torso, and best of all it’s below 30 bucks!
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Available in sizes 24 to 31.
Available in sizes XXS to XL.
Available in sizes S to XL.
WHO: Sydney Sweeney
WHAT: Sweeney lands on the small screen this summer in a role the answers the question What happens to the children of Gilead? The actress plays Eden, a 15-year-old native of The Handmaid’s Tale’s dystopian world. It’s yet to be seen if she’ll become an ally of the women enslaved in her community or—in perhaps a more likely plotline—a further challenge in the way of Offred’s freedom.
The biggest challenge in portraying Eden in The Handmaid’s Tale is… Being away from home for so long. I loved being in Toronto with the crew and cast, but I missed my dog, Tank.
The most surprising trait my character and I share is… A nurturing nature.
One invaluable thing I’ve done to prepare for a role this year… I watched the entire first season of The Handmaid’s Tale in a day, and then I read the book. I wanted to make sure that I truly understood the world of Gilead since Eden is growing up in it. I wanted to make sure Eden would portray a child of Gilead in the way she talks, her mannerisms, and her thoughts.
The most memorable moment from the set of The Handmaid’s Tale was… I have two! The cast listening and singing to the new Taylor Swift album. Everyone pretty much got obsessed. And then there was a night scene where I wasn’t wearing a jacket, so they put tons of layers underneath my dress to the point that it couldn’t close anymore, so they had to sew me into the entire outfit!
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from a castmate is… Never compare yourself to other people. You can only be the best you.
My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three summer pieces… My Madewell overalls! They’re so comfy and easy to throw on for any type of day. I can wear them to the beach with a bikini or put on a cute top under it and wear to lunch.
Mini leather bucket bag! I love this bag during the summer, especially in a pastel pink, because it can go with anything. It’s not big and bulky, but it’s not too small to fit my wallet and sunglasses in.
St. Ives cleansing sticks. They’re easy for me since I’m always on the go, and it’s important to take care of your skin!
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Available in sizes XXS to XXL.
WHO: Jasmine Mathews
WHAT: It might be easy to get Mathew’s biggest roles to date confused. They’re both named Heather. However, for the actress’s major 2018 projects, her characters could not be more different, which speaks volumes of her talent. On one hand, we’ll find Mathews as a member of the Heathers clique in this year’s remake of the cult-classic film of the same name, set to debut in July on the Paramount Network. On the other is the role of Heather, a waitress in the book-turned-TV-show Sweetbitter, which debuted this week on Starz.
The biggest challenge in portraying Heather (in Heathers) compared to playing Heather (in Sweetbitter) is… Not getting them mixed up, first and foremost—playing two characters with the same name in less than two months’ time was wild! I’m a huge believer in keeping a character journal while shooting, and I had already been writing Heather Mac style for more than a few months before I got cast in Sweetbitter, so when it was time to begin a new character journal for a completely different character by the same name, it got a bit confusing! Making them as distinct from one another as possible was the biggest challenge I faced.
The most surprising trait my character of Heather from Sweetbitter and I share is… That we both worked in a restaurant as the only black server and, because of it, we both faced some sort of racism from both colleagues and/or guests. The most common form of racism I heard would go a little something like this: “Oh wow, you’re so pretty! What are you mixed with besides African American?” as if I was something on the menu they wanted to know the ingredients of. Heather faced very similar commentary due to her “lighter” skin tone, her proper way of speaking, and her Georgetown education. The frustration from that and not having anyone at work to turn to who could possibly understand what she was going through was very easy to tap into.
One invaluable thing I’ve done to prepare for a role this year… Was go through various days of waiter boot camp! Two eight-hour training sessions of all things waiter-related, anything from practicing three-plate carries to learning how to properly dress a table, gracefully open a bottle of wine, napkin folding, etc.
My favorite outfit I’ve ever worn on set would have to be… From Heathers. Heather Mac wore these black striped Adidas leggings with this black zipped-up crop, a vintage yellow leopard jacket, and yellow Fenty Puma pumps. I lived for that outfit! Most of Heather Mac’s outfits I lived for and tried to steal after every episode (with no success). The costume designer, Aubrey Binzer, is a genius!
However, if you catch me on an off-duty day, chances are I’m wearing… My thrift-store baggy army fatigue pants with a thousand pockets (so I don’t have to carry a purse), some sort of combat boot or Converse, and a black crop top. I might throw on a denim jacket with some sort of statement pin on the pocket, hair would be wild and free!
My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces… My moonstone pyramid ring! Will not leave the house without it. I love crystals and all things that bring me peace and harmony while keeping me in touch with the divine goddess within me. This ring is that, and it’s gorg—definitely a win-win!
My Jade swimsuit. Love the sun, love the beach, love to tan. This swimsuit is simple yet cute and will leave minimum tan lines (something I’m so not a fan of). Plus, you can tuck the straps in, and the top will stay up without any adjustments.
Last but not least is the Fenty Beauty Body Lava Luminize in lustrous bronze! A great tan mixed with this magical goodness Rihanna has blessed us with, you might just mistake me for the sun this summer.
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Top and Bare Minimum High-Leg Bikini Briefs ($80) available in sizes S to L.
Currently sold out.
Janey van Ierland
WHO: Katja Herbers
WHAT: Those keeping up with the latest season of Westworld probably just had their first glimpse of Herbers’s role last Sunday, which saw her joining a star-studded cast and getting into serious trouble on screen before we can learn much about her character, Grace, at all. We’re excited to see where the Dutch actress takes her mysterious plotline, mostly because she wouldn’t tell us herself. “I’m a spoiler-free machine,” she says.
The biggest challenge in portraying Grace in Westworld is… Mostly keeping my head straight before and after work. When I was actually filming, it all felt great. But the anticipation of working and the waiting around, that was the biggest challenge. To not “lose” the character when I wouldn’t film for five weeks or so and to get my mind to shush it. Also, I tried to treat going to work on Westworld as the most normal thing in the world. Like, ah, I’m just going to do some acting, on this little TV show, no big deal. It was a first for me to join a show that was such a huge hit already. Along with that came some extra nerves.
The most surprising trait my character and I share is… Grace speaks lots of languages, and so do I! I love language and got lucky to have been around many different languages growing up. My parents are both classical musicians, and music being the universal language it is, we always had people from all over the world come over to perform with them.
One invaluable thing I’ve done to prepare for a role this year… Since the guests travel to Westworld by train, I thought it’d be good preparation to take the train into Westworld, too. It was a beautiful trip, all the way from New York to Los Angeles. I wanted a way to set my mind straight to start the job and that train ride really helped. I recommend it to anyone.
The most memorable moment from the set of Westworld was… How special it was to even have scenes with some of the cast (who I can’t yet name as it could potentially spoil something). But let me just say to get to be part of the Westworld family was pretty, pretty special. On my first day of coming to set, I got put on a beautiful horse named Bart. I needed to learn how to ride Western style. Earlier that day, I had a costume fitting, and the man who made Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot dress was measuring me to tailor-make me a costume. I couldn’t believe it.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from a castmate was… My first day on set of Westworld, and I was quite overwhelmed by how big it all was. One of the producers came over to welcome me and said if you keep your sense of humor about it all, you’ll be fine. I loved that. And I took it to heart.
My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three summer pieces… I don’t go anywhere without sunglasses. When I don’t have to work, I like taking a day off wearing contact lenses. I have been looking for cool clip-ons for my prescription glasses, and now that I’ve found Moscots, I am never leaving the house without them.
I recently came across this vegan shoe brand made by Francisca Pineda in her apartment in New York! Her shoes are beautiful and comfortable, and what the brand stands for, I find very inspiring.
Red is my favorite color. Stella McCarthy has been making sustainable and animal cruelty–free fashion since 2001, and I love her for it. This silk shirt makes me want to go out and be all fancy. I think it could cheer up any skirt or pants. If I could afford it, I’d buy both the shirt and the pants and just be red all over.
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Available in European sizes 34 to 46.
Available in sizes 5 to 12.
WHO: Daniella Pineda
WHAT: What’s summer without a blockbuster action film? In this case, we’re talking Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, most specifically the latest cast member to costar Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jurassic alum Jeff Goldblum: Daniella Pineda. Her big-screen debut in June will be huge for the actress and follows years of TV work, including The Originals and The Detour, where you might recognize her from.
The biggest challenge in portraying Zia Rodriguez in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on screen is… Not laughing at Chris Pratt or Justice Smith. We were constantly cracking each other up, and it got difficult to be serious.
The most surprising trait my character and I share is… Not taking shit from people.
My favorite outfit I’ve ever worn on set would have to be… Pajamas.
However, if you catch me on an off-duty day, chances are I’m wearing… Nike. Nike. Nike.
The most memorable moment from the set of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was… Pratt would always give me these lovely pep talks before any big scene I had. He cared so much that I did my best. It really meant a lot to me. I have never had a lead actor, especially someone as big as him, look after me in that way. I never took it for granted.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received from a castmate is… “Don’t be afraid to look a little ugly.”
My summer wardrobe would not be complete without these three summer pieces… Brandy Melville tank tops. Nike Huarache sneakers. And Gucci sunglasses are my life.
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Available in size S.
Available in sizes 5 to 12.
Now make a snack and sit back. Summer’s going to provide so much entertainment.