Sometimes while watching a film or TV show, it takes a while to realize you’ve seen this actress perform in other productions in the past but you may not yet know her name. While these amazing talents aren’t as well known as, say, A-list celebrities (at least, not yet) they continue to steadily and boldly build their careers right before our eyes. Here are two such actresses who, despite their impressive talents, are relatively unsung names despite working consistently in Hollywood.

Sonoya Mizuno

The versatile English actress, fashion model, and distinguished ballet dancer Sonoyo Mizuno has a way of transforming into her characters, whether she’s portraying an android in Ex Machina, the yellow dress-adorned Caitlin who’s the roommate of Emma Stone’s Mia in La La Land, a resolute doctor’s assistant in the sci-fi Maniac, or the wealthy bride Araminta Lee in the film Crazy Rich Asians

Born in Tokyo and raised in England, Mizuno graduated from the Royal Ballet School before dancing in several companies including the Scottish Ballet. One day while on vacation, Mizuno was visiting a modeling agency where she was signed and expressed she was interested in pursuing a career as an actress. As fate would have it, the casting director of Alex Garland’s Ex Machina had just sent an email to the modeling agency in search of extras. “I went and met Alex and I did this audition, and he was like, ‘You’re fantastic, I want to give you one of the parts straight away,’ and I was like, ‘What? What just happened?’” Sonoya recalls.

In this way, she dropped out of the Scottish Ballet to pursue her acting dreams. Indeed, the aspiring actress debuted in the sci-fi thriller Ex Machina in 2015 playing an android Kyoko. And the film went on to be nominated for several Academy Awards.

As a trained dancer with a keen sense of her physicality, Sonoya seems to embody her characters. The actress has collaborated with director Alex Garland several times (Ex Machina, Annihilation, and Devs) and she’s taken on smaller roles in La La Land, the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, and the 2018 romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians. But moving up, she played the leading role of Dr. Azumi Fujita, the complicated Japanese scientist in the Netflix miniseries Maniac as well as the lead role of Lily Chan in the FX dystopian sci-fi miniseries Devs. Keep your eyes out for Mizuno in the upcoming series The Flight Attendant for HBO Max—one of the many productions interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugu Mbatha-Raw broke onto the scene in 2013 with her portrayal of the strong-willed, educated, high-class, and illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a British Royal Navy officer and an enslaved African woman in the film Belle. Mbatha-Raw garnered praise for her tender yet dignified performance in the 18th-century drama. The following year, the Oxford native played the hot new pop singer Noni Jean who struggles with fame in the romantic drama Beyond the Lights, again to much acclaim. Gugu was then cast alongside Will Smith in the biographical sports drama Concussion, delivering yet another emotional and moving performance.

Maybe you recognize Mbatha-Raw as the brilliant Dr. Kate Murry in the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time or as Plumette (yes, the feather duster) in the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast (2017). Or perhaps you’ve seen her on the drama web television series on Apple TV+, The Morning Show, where she plays Hannah Shoenfild, the ambitious and relatable head talent booker of the fictitious news program starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.

Surely, Gugu will keep surprising audiences with her fresh performances. “I try not to limit myself,” she says. “The actors that inspire me are the comedians and the people able to shape-shift into different roles and into different media. That ensures your longevity as an artist and prevents you from getting bored with yourself.”

 

Comments

comments