STERLING K. BROWN
As star of both “The People v OJ Simpson” and “This Is Us,” there was no way Sterling K. Brown wouldn’t become a bona fide breakout star in 2016.
It’s not easy to make a successful transition from Youtube star to TV star, but “Awkward Black Girl” creator and star Issa Rae did just that with “Insecure,” and HBO has already ordered a second season of her sitcom.
Before “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” makes him a movie star, Riz Ahmed became a TV sensation at the center of HBO’s latest murder mystery.
As Queen Elizabeth’s sultry sister Princess Margaret, “The Crown’s” Vanessa Kirby brings some welcome passion, melodrama and sex appeal that any drama about the British monarchy would desperately need.
Katy Mixon has spent years stealing the screen in supporting roles on “Mike and Molly” and “Eastbound and Down,” but her first leading turn as the snarky, sarcastic and bitterly hilarious Katie Otto on ABC’s “American Housewife” is downright delightful.
As the bulletproof protector of Harlem, Mike Colter’s titular “Luke Cage” became the timeliest of Marvel superheroes.
BRIAN TYREE HENRY
Paper Boi, Paper Boi, all about that paper, boy. “Atlanta’s” breakout rapper also became the show’s breakout star.
After gaining notice as a supporting player in John Green adaptation “Paper Towns,” Smith became a star as the lead in Baz Luhrmann’s first TV project, “The Get Down,” a vibrant romp through the 1970s music scene.
The unnamed title character of Amazon’s “Fleabag” may be crude, angry and self-destructive, but she remains deeply sympathetic thanks to the sharp writing and subtle charm of star and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
MILLIE BOBBY BROWN
Thanks to “Stranger Things” and Millie Bobby Brown’s portrayal of a girl with powers, many pets and children born this year will be named Eleven.
From Marvel’s newest superhero to America’s newest favorite housewife to even “Stranger” beings, these newcomers left a mark on the TV landscape in 2016