NEW YORK (AP) — In this big year of entertainment — think Barbenheimer, the twin conquests of Taylor Swift and Beyoncé and the jolting strikes by actors and writers — we witnessed five streaking stars. Their party was 2023.
Kris Bowers, Reneé Rapp, Charles Melton, Lily Gladstone, and Ayo Edebiri all set down markers in TV, film and music this year. The five have been named The Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of the Year.
Gladstone and Melton both snagged Golden Globe nominations and are getting Oscar buzz for their work in Killers of the Flower Moon and May December, respectively. Gladstone has been called “the quiet, powerful center” at the heart of Martin Scorsese real-life tale of greed and treachery, while Melton “will break your heart” in his movie about an actor preparing to play a Mary Kay Letourneau-like role.
A year of success for all the honorees puts all those years of working hard in perspective.
“I was walking dogs and working Chinese takeout seven years ago,” Melton tells the AP.
For Gladstone, the weight of history is woven into her success. If she were to win an Academy Award, she’d become the first Native American to ever win a competitive Oscar. “It would be an incredible moment in my life, but it would mean so much more than just me,” she says.
On the small screen, Edebiri had a great 2023, earning Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her role as Sydney Adamu on Hulu’s culinary dramedy The Bear and laughs for her portrayal of Josie in the satirical coming-of-age teen comedy Bottoms.
“I was really fortunate to have people in my corner who were like, ‘We’re going to help you. Like, why wouldn’t we?’” she tells the AP.
Like her fellow honorees, Rapp was making a name for herself as an actor but made the leap to pop star. She went from Mean Girls on Broadway and Mindy Kaling’s The Sex Lives of College Girls on TV to betting on herself and her music, releasing her first album, Snow Angel, and touring.
Of her experience as an actor, Rapp is honest: “It was just like a welcomed blessing that was a means to get to what I wanted to do.” Apparently others agree: Snow Angel debuted at No. 44 on Billboard 200 Album charts.
For Bowers, it’s all been about music right from the start. This year alone, the composer and pianist’s credits include Origin and The Color Purple in addition to Chevalier, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, and Haunted Mansion.
“I feel like the daily process is always trying to figure out the voice inside that’s telling me that I don’t belong or shouldn’t be here,” he says.
For him and the four other honorees, the place they do belong is on the list of The Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of the Year.
For more on AP’s 2023 class of Breakthrough Entertainers, please visit: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-breakthrough-entertainers