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Black British Actors Who Are Changing the Acting Scene

by Betti Halsell

British accents have always been cool. A subtle but pungent twang of english seems to send anyone into a frenzy of fascination. Mix that with phenomenal acting and now one has witnessed the creation of a star. One of the hottest trends in Black entertainment right now are the slew of Black British actors putting on unprecedented performances, while keeping their real accents for dessert. Actors such as Daniel Kaluuya, Idris Elba, and Thandie Newton  turned Hollywood on its head with their wide range of talent. Here are the top British actors you should look out for in the next Hollywood trailers, nine times out of ten, the movie is going to be phenomenal. 

Rege-jean page 

 If you seen Bridgerton, you seen Rege-jean Page’s “behind the scenes”, if you know what I mean. Page is bringing back the era of “teenage heartthrobs” in the romantic novel turned tv series. Looking into his background (since we have already seen his behind),  Page is British and Zimbabwean. One of his first break-out roles was playing Chicken George in the mini-series Roots. In one of his more regular roles he played a cast member of the ABC legal drama For the People, he’s for the people alright…

Thandie Newton

Melanie Thandiwe ‘Thandie’ Newton has stolen all of the awards and slayed every red carpet she ever walked out on. She has been awarded a Primetime Emmy, British Academy Film Award, and received two Golden Globe Awards. Newton is known for her performances in Westworld, Mission impossible 2 and Crash. She has been an open book about her frustrations with roles and scenes she was cast to do as a woman. Despite that, she always saved face and played chess, not checkers. Thanks for holding it down for the women, Thandie! 

Daniel Kaluuya

Known for the teary-eyed blank stare in horror film Get Out, Kaluuya was probably the first pop culture trigger to send a shock wave through the nation – he had such a natural American accent in the movie! But when he spoke during interviews it was like, “woah, how long have you been British?!” The Golden Globe Best Supporting Actors was born in London to his Ugandan parents. His name is credited in over 40+ movie credits, including Black Panther, Queen and Slim, and Judas and The Black Messiah. Kaluuya is also a writer – he co-wrote a few episodes of the teenage drama series Skins. He’s a multi-talented deep thinker and a poet by nature.

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett

Nathan Stewart-Jarrett attends the after party for the “Angels in America”/ Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

This man just has that swag, watching him walk is like watching a lion stroll in the pride lands. As the literal embodiment of tall dark and handsome, Jarrett he is best known for his role in Misfits. He has appeared in over 40 credits, and when he breaks the seal in Hollywood showbiz, there will be women lined up to see him on the big screen. 

Idris Elba

Idris Elba at the premiere of “The Mountain Between Us” (2017)

Idris Elba has ‘distinguished grown man’ written all over him, and, as an actor, he steals the show every time. Not only does he act but he is also into the music scene as a producer, rapper, singer, songwriter, and DJ. He is known for his roles in The wire, Luther, playing Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom, and many more roles. Elba brings energy and heat to each performance – no matter the genre – drama, action, sci-fi – his talent is immesurable.

Kingsley Ben-Adir

Kinglsey is the crown royale of acting. He is best known for his role as a detective in the Netflix series The OA and recently released Regina King-directed One Night In Miami. His father was a musician and his mother a caregiver. Ben-Adir comes from a Trinidadian background. His mother converted to judaism, taking on the last name ‘Ben-Adir,’ which means “son of the strong or mighty.” Although the actor is still relatively new to Hollywood, he is surely joining the ranks of U.S.-famous hot British acting sensations. 

Michaela Coel

Michaela Ewuraba Boakye-Collinson is a daring actress. She is bold and brings life to all of her characters in the most relatable way. Coel is known for her performances in the Black Mirror, British sitcom series Chewing Gum, and HBO’s hit show I May Destroy You. The Award winning writer, director and actor has made every one of her roles memorable. Here’s to many more phenomenal Coel-led projects!

Letitia Wright 

Letitia Michelle Wright is a youthful face of beauty and has already made her mark in the film industry as a staple in the Black Panther . Wright comes from a Guyanese-British background and has been seen in multiple guest roles such as Top Boy, Coming Up, and Black Mirror. She has also received a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award. Rumor has it, she will be the Black Panther sequel. Black women on the rise, we love to see it!

Sophie Okonedo 

Sophie Okonedo Evening Standard Theatre Awards/ Photo by David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

Sophie Okonedo is the British babe that we all grew up watching. Her role in Aeon Flux and Ace Ventura: When nature calls are nostalgic. She was an early representation for the younger generation of Black girls. Okonedo has over 70 movie credits under her belt and she was nominated for a Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. If you ever see her name on the screen, you are in for a treat!

Freema Agyeman

Freema Agyeman brings a spirit to her roles, one that is limitless and bound to run into trouble. Agyemen is from an Iranian and Ghanian background, she known for her role as Martha Jones in BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, as Dr. Helen Sharpe in ABC’s New Amsterdam and the outspoken style editor in The Carrie Diaries. Her characters always seem liberated and dancing to their own beat.  

John Boyega

Recent Critics Choice Awards winner John Adedayo Bamidele Adegboyega has been booked and busy. Boyega’s latest role as Leroy Logan in Amazon’s Small Axe has created a lot of buzz during the 2021 award season. Born from parents of Nigerian descent, the actor and activist is known around the world for his roles in Pacific Rim and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker among others.

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Film & Television

The Latest Must-Read Celebrity Memoirs

Celebrity memoirs - Hollywood Melanin

Actors share their talent with us from the screen by playing made-up characters. They often do it convincingly that we as viewers forget that they are real people, with real lives of their own and real stories to tell. Books are proven to be the best way to gather their life experiences and learnings all in one place, uninterrupted.

Here is the list of the new celebrity memoirs that were published this year or will debut in early 2022.


Cicely Tyson, Just as I Am: A Memoir (published: January 26, 2021)

“Just as I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet, I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and a mother, a sister and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by his hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.” – Cicely Tyson.


Yvonne Orji, Bamboozled By Jesus: How God Tricked Me Into the Life of My Dreams (published: May 25, 2021)

Written by a thriving stand-up comedian and ‘Insecure’ actress Yvonne Orji, Bamboozled is a frank and fresh advice book that takes readers on a journey through twenty-five life lessons from Orji’s own experiences and her favorite source of inspiration: the Bible. The actress shares pointers like why the way up is sometimes down and how fear is synonymous with food poisoning. Her joyful, confident approach to God will inspire everyone to catapult themselves out of the mundane and into the magnificent.


Gabrielle Union, You Got Anything Stronger? (published: September 14, 2021)

This memoir is the sequel to Gabrielle Union’s first book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, released in 2017.

In You Got Anything Stronger?, Union catches the audience up on the latest four years of her life. She takes the reader a girl’s night at Chateau Marmont, and I also talk to Isis, her character from Bring It On. Then, for the first time, she opens up about her surrogacy journey and the birth of Kaavia James Union Wade. The actress also discusses racism in the entertainment industry.


Tabitha Brown, Feeding the Soul (published: September 28, 2021)

Before Tabitha Brown was one of the most popular personalities in the world, sharing her delicious vegan home cooking and compassionate wisdom with millions of followers across social media, she was an aspiring actress who struggled with undiagnosed chronic autoimmune pain. Her condition made her believe she wouldn’t live to see forty–until she started listening to what her soul and her body truly needed. Now, in her life-changing book, Tabitha shares the wisdom she gained from her journey, showing readers how to make a life for themselves that is rooted in nonjudgmental kindness and love, both for themselves and for others.


Billy Porter, Unprotected: A Memoir (published: October 19, 2021)

Billy Porter’s Unprotected is the life story of a singular artist and survivor in his own words. It is the story of a boy whose talent and courage opened doors for him, but only a crack. It is the story of a teenager discovering himself, learning his voice and craft amidst deep trauma. And it is the story of a young man whose unbreakable determination led him through countless hard times to where he is now; a proud icon who refuses to back down or hide. Porter is a multitalented, multifaceted treasure at the top of his game, and Unprotected is a resonant, inspirational story of trauma and healing, shot through with his singular voice.


Will Smith, Will (release date: November 9, 2021)

This memoir is the product of a profound journey of self-knowledge, a reckoning with all that your will can get you and all that it can leave behind. Written with the help of Mark Manson, author of the multi-million-copy bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ckWill is the story of how one person mastered his own emotions, written in a way that can help everyone else do the same. Few of us will know the pressure of performing on the world’s biggest stages for the highest of stakes, but we can all understand that the fuel that works for one stage of our journey might have to be changed if we want to make it all the way home. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.


Garcelle Beauvais, Love Me As I Am (release date: April 12, 2022)

Love Me As I Am is Garcelle Beauvais’s smart, inspiring, and raw memoir—an entertaining and unforgettable emotional rollercoaster ride that moves from her early childhood years in Haiti to her adolescence in Boston; from her heady days as a young model in New York—her first taste of real freedom—to Los Angeles and the many ups, downs, and then more ups, both personal and professional, she experienced in her three-decade acting career, including her massive fame as a star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills


Viola Davis, Finding Me (release date: April 26, 2022)

Finding Me is Viola Davis’ story, in her own words, and spans her incredible, inspiring life, from her coming-of-age in Rhode Island to her present day. Hers is a story of overcoming, a true hero’s journey. Deeply personal, brutally honest, and riveting, Finding Me is a timeless and spellbinding memoir that will capture hearts and minds around the globe.  

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Film & Television

Skyh Alvester Black Talks Life, Faith and Love

Best known for Sistas and All The Queen’s Men, Skyh Alvester Black has been putting in work to get to where he is today. It was not always easy, but, ultimately, every challenge he encountered helped build his character and led him to his purpose.

Born in Alabama and raised in Miami, the 33-year-old Florida native always had a deep-rooted love for music. Dancing became the passion he wanted to pursue professionally, a task that required real commitment. His loving grandparents, who raised him, were prime examples of how hard work, dedication, and faith pay off. “My granddad created a construction business only having a High School diploma,” Black shared with HM, “I always saw the work ethic in my grandparents, so it was just kinda innate for me. If I wanted something – to go after it with the relentless approach and jump because the net would always appear.”

While his other dream of becoming an R’n’B singer did not pan out, dancing became his thing. He loved it and was good at it. Black worked on stage with some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Rihanna and Beyonce. Dance was the path, the goal. Dance was everything until it wasn’t.

Skyh Alvester Black | photography by Leigh Keily

In 2010 Black had an encounter that shifted the trajectory of his creative journey forever. Back then, he auditioned for a small part in Grey’s Anatomy, where he met Debbie Allen. The legendary dancer and actor saw something that Black was not aware of at the time. ‘Honey, I’m going to make you an actor. That’s what I see of you,’ Allen told him. It would take a few years and hard work for those fateful words to become a reality.

Encouraged by his music manager, Black stepped into Tasha Smith’s acting class in 2018. Sadly, his beloved grandfather had passed by then, and Black’s singing career had not taken off. “I felt like a failure cause I didn’t accomplish it to the gratitude that I wanted to accomplish it,” he told HM, “and I felt guilty about that until my grandfather passed, and I wasn’t where I personally wanted to be. I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to give back everything he gave me.”

The acting workshop was the spark he needed, “I fell in love, and I remember everything Debbie Allen had pushed me to do several years before, and it was cathartic, it was therapeutic. It was everything that I needed, and it became an obsession.” That was the turning point. Exactly one year later, Black booked his first major television role as Jacobi on Tyler Perry’s Sistas that airs on BET. The network recently renewed the series for a fourth season, so there is no time to catch a break just yet.

After the first time I had the privilege of doing Sistas, I felt like I could do anything!

Working with Tyler Perry certainly warrants an intense schedule, and Black is here for it. “It’s the best training for an actor. And not just an actor but a professional. I love it! Even the first time I got the privilege of doing Sistas, I felt like I could do anything; because of the pace and intensity. It’s this well-oiled machine that just works,” he told HM.

Skyh Alvester Black | photography by Leigh Keily
Skyh Alvester Black | photography by Leigh Keily

Black then went on to book a role on the BET+ series All The Queen’s Men. The show takes viewers into the world of exotic male dancing. The actor plays AMP, a bouncer/doorman at Eden, a club managed by Marilyn ‘Madam’ DeVille (Eva Marcille).

There is no word on the show’s season 2 renewal yet, but it’s clear that the audience wants more. “I was completely surprised by the response,” Black shared with HM, “It’s such a taboo subject in mainstream America, and we were in the middle of the pandemic. It has been such an amazing and unexpected ride, and people are loving it, so I am completely grateful.”

And this is just the beginning. Ahead lies another leading role in AllBlk’s new legal drama Lace from Deuces and Brotherly Love helmer Jamal Hill. The series follows a prolific Los Angeles attorney Lacey (Maryam Basir), who often blurs the lines between right and wrong to protect her rich and powerful clientele. Black stars as attorney Othello Charles. The show will air in November.

Things are coming together not only in his professional life but also personal. Black and his girlfriend and Sistas co-star KJ Smith recently made it Instagram-official. Although the couple stays mostly private, Black wants everyone to know how proud he is of his significant other. “She is great!” He told HM, “I learned how to be a leading man by watching her when she didn’t even know I was watching. She is the exemplary leading woman, and she is incredible!”

The journey of the leading man has not been easy, but he says he likes to test his limits “because when you are pushed, you never know what you can actually accomplish.”


Interview by Tina French, Hollywood Melanin

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Film & Television

‘I Am Not a Soror’: Amanda Seales Responds to AKA Backlash

The first episode of the final season of Insecure premiered on Sunday night. On Monday morning, Amanda Seales, who plays a character named Tiffany Dubois in the critically acclaimed series, started to trend on Twitter.

It turns out, some members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. took offense to Seales portraying a soror on screen, while she is not one in real life.

@Love_KSJW tweeted, “Okay, so hold up. This girl is not a Soror and had my SHIELD on her body?! @IssaRae @insecurhbo, please do not do that again. That’s wildly disrespectful!”


Ari LaBeija
wrote, “No Amanda Seales don’t have my letters on… wardrobe has gone too far #InsecureHBO.”

Kim M. Barfield said, “Finally watching the #InsecureHBO season premiere, and it’s my turn to be confused as to why the fictitious Tiffany character is in my real actual sorority letters AND shield ….”

The criticism that followed the debut episode of season 5 is confusing to some. Many Insecure fans knew that Tiffany (Seales) and Yvonne Orji’s character, Molly, were fictional members of the sorority from the show’s debut season.

Seales published a video response on her social media.

“I don’t know why people keep asking me if I’m a soror. I am not a soror,” Seales shared in her Instagram story. “Tiffany is a soror. Tiffany is a character on a tv show. I didn’t write the character; I played the character. I am not a soror. I’m an actress, and I’m playing a character on a TV show. And I think reality tv done really got folks fucked up because, you know, it’s like: ‘it’s all the same.’ But I’m just playing a character. That’s it. Y’all know that, though. But some of y’all don’t. I feel like some folks really forget. It’s a tv show.”

Watch new episodes of Insecure every Sunday on HBO and HBO Max.

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