10 breakout stars of 2020: Jacob Elordi, Sanjana Sanghi, Sameh Alaa and more

Introducing the actors, artists, singers, authors and directors who proved their staying power during a difficult year for the arts

British actor Paul Mescal, Egyptian director Sameh Alaa and Indian actress Sanjana Sanghi are among our top 10 breakout stars of 2020. BBC, Instagram, Getty Images
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It has been a difficult year in which to not only flourish but prevail, in an entertainment industry that has been brought to its knees by a pandemic.

But these 10 stars show that with resilience, patience and, above all, talent, the seeds they planted in 2020 will yield even bigger results in the coming years …

Emma Corrin

British actress Emma Corrin won critical acclaim portraying Princess Diana in season four of 'The Crown'. Netflix 
British actress Emma Corrin won critical acclaim portraying Princess Diana in season four of 'The Crown'. Netflix 

Landing the very first role she auditioned for upon leaving the University of Cambridge in 2018 would have been exciting enough for the British actress. But to find out you’re playing one of the most famous women of the 20th century was the icing on the cake for Emma Corrin, 25.

Of her career-making role as Princess Diana in season four of Netflix hit The Crown, Corrin has said: "I feel a lot of responsibility, I try not to think much about it, otherwise it does get overwhelming."

Khaled Morad

Egyptian artist Khaled Morad emerged as a strong talent on the 2020 art scene. This mixed media work is titled 'Resonance'. Courtesy Khaled Morad
Egyptian artist Khaled Morad emerged as a strong talent on the 2020 art scene. This mixed media work is titled 'Resonance'. Courtesy Khaled Morad

The Egyptian artist has been touted as not only an emerging star of 2020's art scene, but one to watch in the coming years.

"I find that Islamic art and literature to be an endless source of inspiration, full of mystical concepts, metaphors, knowledge, collected poems, verses, of miraculous and sacred values," says the artist, who now lives in Paris. "My work [is] inspired by personal experience and cultural contexts that reference Egyptian-African myths, the sacred realm which evokes the spirituality of human beings and their relationship to their inner mystical depth."

Jacob Elordi

CULVER CITY, CA - JANUARY 26: Jacob Elordi attends the 2019 G'Day USA Gala at 3LABS on January 26, 2019 in Culver City, California.   John Sciulli/Getty Images for G'Day USA /AFP
Australian actor Jacob Elordi steals every scene in HBO's 'Euphoria' as troubled teen, Nate Jacobs. AFP

If being six foot three doesn't make him intimidating enough, check out the Australian actor's portrayal of budding teenage sociopath Nate Jacobs in HBO's Emmy-winning show, Euphoria.

The actor, 23, who first popped on to Hollywood's radar playing Noah Flynn in Netflix's The Kissing Booth 1 and 2, says of his hopes for future roles: "I'd hate to play someone who's morally correct all the time."

Elaine Feeney

Releasing her debut novel this year, Feeney's As You Were quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation. Playing out over the course of one week in a chaotic hospital ward, the writer took inspiration from her time in an NHS ward after she suffered complications following the birth of her second son.

Feeney, who also teaches at a secondary school as well as tutoring in creative writing at the university in Galway, says of the pandemic’s effect on literature: "People are reading books again – we worried it was all screens, but people have gone back to books."

Tara Abboud

The Palestinian-Jordanian actress made an impact on the small screen in Jordanian TV series Obour, which told the stories of refugees and workers at the UAE-supported Mrajeeb Al Fhood refugee camp. And it was Abboud's turn which garnered the attention of superstar Saba Mubarak, who recommended her to play the lead role in Egyptian director Mohamed Diab's upcoming film, Amira.

Sanjana Sanghi

It was a tough year in which to make a debut, but Indian actress Sanjana Sanghi, 24, made it work for her. The Delhi native's attention-grabbing turn as Kizie Basu in Dil Bechara, a remake of Hollywood's The Fault in our Stars, won her accolades and fans alike. Although she has acted since she was a child, appearing in 2011's Rockstar and 2017's Hindi Medium, Dil Bechara was the role which launched her into the next stage of her career.

Tate McRae

The singer-songwriter is being hailed a musical prodigy in the mould of Billie Eilish, with whom she has already collaborated. The first Canadian finalist on American reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance, the talented teen signed to RCA Records last year after her song One Day went viral on YouTube. Her debut EP, All the Things I Never Said, was released in January, leading to a collaboration with Finneas, and she's won millions of fans without having yet released a full-length project. Not bad for a 17-year-old.

Paul Mescal

Irish star Paul Mescal swapped the theatre for the small screen, and was Emmy nominated for his role in the BBC's 'Normal People'. Courtesy BBC
Irish star Paul Mescal swapped the theatre for the small screen, and was Emmy nominated for his role in the BBC's 'Normal People'. Courtesy BBC

The Irish actor, 24, found fame overnight as the shy yet charming Connell Waldron in BBC Three's adaptation of Sally Rooney's novel Normal People. Instantly propelled to the top of directors' wish-lists, he has even been touted as a potential James Bond. Nominated for an Emmy for his work in Normal People, he said of his new-found fame and love for the craft: "I love seeing people my age or my peers doing amazing work because it invigorates you."

Sameh Alaa

CANNES, FRANCE - OCTOBER 29: Short film Palme d'Or winner Sameh Alaa attends the Best Short Film Palme D'Or Award Ceremony of the "Special Cannes 2020 : Le Festival Revient Sur La Croisette !" as part of the Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on October 29, 2020 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Short film Palme d'Or winner Sameh Alaa made history as the first Egyptian director to triumph at the Cannes film festival. Getty Images

Making history is a pretty spectacular thing to achieve in 2020, and the Egyptian director did just that. Scooping the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his short, I Am Afraid to Forget your Face, he became the first Egyptian to win the accolade. His triumph also saw him chosen for the next session of Cannes Cinefondation's Residence du Festival programme in Paris, where he will be able to develop his first feature project I Can Hear Your Voice … Still.

“It was a big surprise, but a good surprise. It was totally unexpected because, for a long time, we didn’t know if the festival was going to happen, even after we got shortlisted,” he said of his record-breaking win.

Lashana Lynch

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by MGM/Eon/Danjaq/UPI/Kobal/Shutterstock (10569636i)
Lashana Lynch as Nomi
'No Time To Die' Film - 2020
James Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.
'No Time To Die' might have been delayed at the cinema, but British actress, Lashana Lynch, became the most talked-about star in the trailer. Shutterstock

It says a lot about your charisma and star power that even when your big global vehicle – James Bond film No Time To Die – doesn't get released as scheduled, you're still the most talked-about person in the trailer. Taking on the mantle of being the first woman to play 007, the British actress, 33, had already banked plenty of star power as Captain Marvel's best friend, Maria Rambeau, in the Hollywood hit of the same name. It looks like she'll be turning 2021 into her year, too.


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