Black Hollywood is booming and there are several stars who are on the rise and deserve everyone’s attention. As a way to amplify their work, Shadow and Act created a new video series titled UpNext, which features several rising black stars having a candid conversation about life on and offscreen.
UpNext comes at a time where diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry rises as a crucial issue. With UpNext, we want to provide an outlet for rising black talent to discuss their journey in ways that people of color are not often provided in mainstream media. We hope UpNext adds to the conversation and challenges the stereotypes put on black actors and actresses.
Our first episode of UpNext featured up-and-coming talent such as Jay Ellis, Antoinette Robertson, Bresha Webb, Aml Ameen, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. and Tiffany Boone.
In our second UpNext roundtable, we invited actors and actresses Lonnie Chavis, Eris Baker, Laya DeLeon Hayes, Seth Carr and Trinitee Stokes — each of whom are quickly racking up credits and taking Hollywood by storm. We invited them to a game of mini golf in Los Angeles to have some fun and gather over food and snacks as they share the details on growing up in the industry.
You can view the full roundtable below and learn more about our UpNext participants as they gathered for pizza and mini-golf to break bread, share laughs and talk about their careers and dreams for what’s next. You can read more highlights below!
Lonnie Chavis - As one of the young stars of This Is Us, Lonnie Chavis is one of the most recognizable faces in the industry right now. Chavis, who stars on the hit NBC drama, also had a series regular role on Showtime's White Famous. He'll topline the upcoming film, Sunny Daze, which is currently in production.
On advice that he'd give anyone wanting to start acting, Chavis said, "Pursue your dreams, never give up. It's not as easy at looks. It takes focus, a lot of hard practice. But you have to follow your dreams and never give up." As well as continuing to act, Chavis said during UpNext he also wants to be a scientist.
Eris Baker - Baker has won viewers' hearts as the young Tess Baker on This Is Us. She has also appeared on Disney Channel's K.C. Undercover and Netflix's Alexa and Katie.
Baker says that she wants to eventually get involved more in projects behind-the-scenes. "I feel like in this business, there's so many things you can do, and right now I'm doing on-screen, but I would love to do background, like produce, direct, executive produce, and I'm definitely going to take advantage of my show and the amazing directors and probably shadow them."
Laya DeLeon Hayes - Hayes is making it happen in both live-action and animated series. Since the show's third season, which premiered in 2015, she's been the voice of Doc McStuffins in the popular Disney Junior show of the same name. She's also had recurring roles on Disney Channel's Liv and Maddie and Amazon's Just Add Magic. She recently co-starred with Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Faison in the ABC comedy pilot, Most Likely To.
During the UpNext conversation, Hayes says she wants to continue acting and gives a word of advice to others who want to get in the industry to have fun. "We work so hard. I don't want to stop. It's something I've always dreamed about since I was younger and watched Nickelodeon and Disney Channel. There is a lot of rejection in this industry. You have to make sure you don't take it personally and that you have fun....because it's fun and we're young and we should be loving what we're doing."
Seth Carr - Most can probably recognize Carr in an instant from his scene-stealing role as a young Erik Killmonger in the mega blockbuster film, Black Panther. A few months later, he's also appeared on-screen as the son of Gabrielle Union in Breaking In. Aside from that's he's also recurred on Amazon's Bosch and Nickelodeon's Knight Squad.
On how his how he got started in the business, Carr explained during UpNext, "I was just looking like, 'all of those kids are on TV, why can't I be on TV? It was really cool because my mom has been there through it with me the whole time, and my parents, they just really pushed me to this point." Along with acting, Carr says he also wants to be a paleontologist.
Trinitee Stokes - Stokes played Zendaya's younger sister on their hit Disney Channel series, K.C. Undercover. She's also appeared on the FX drama, Snowfall.
"It's cool because it's like I'm growing up in the public eye, so everyone gets to experience everything I experience," the young actress said during the UpNext roundtable. "Everyone experiences my birthday. Everyone experiences holidays with me. I get to interact with so many people I probably would have never met." Like the others, Stokes wants to expand her repertoire beyond on-screen roles. "I want to be a megastar...that way I can I want to dabble in everything. That way I can do fashion and own businesses and definitely continue acting, create my own content and have my own film company.
You can watch Shadow and Act’s full UpNext roundtable above.