22 People In TV, Film, And Music We Couldn’t Get Enough Of In 2016

1. Kylie Bunbury

Late into the audition process for the lead of Pitch, 27-year-old Kylie Bunbury walked into co-creator Dan Fogelman’s office. “Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you see somebody and think, That’s what I had in my brain and I didn’t even know it. That’s how it was with Kylie,” he told BuzzFeed News. “When she walked in the door, that was it. I saw the television show.” (By Jarett Wieselman)

2. Jon M. Chu

Bryan Dale for BuzzFeed News

“A hero that doesn’t look like you makes you want to be something else,” Chu told BuzzFeed News. The upcoming director of Crazy Rich Asians, who helmed the Now You See Me sequel in 2016, said, “These are characters who have never been seen on the big screen before: Some are totally immoral. Some are completely materialistic. Some are total assholes. Others are super kind. It just runs the gamut and shows there’s not one Asian.” (By Susan Cheng)

3. Desus Nice and The Kid Mero

Desus Nice and The Kid Mero, two Twitter personalities, quietly broke ground on a staid platform — and they did it during the most insane few months in American political history. On other networks, “it’d usually be like get a white guy, give him a suit, get an auditorium, get a band, get three guests, boom. Monologue, interviews, we out,” Desus told BuzzFeed News. At Viceland, Mero added, it all starts with them asking, “What do you want to do?” (By Marcus Jones)

4. Alden Ehrenreich

Alison Rosa / Universal Pictures

In 2016, Ehrenreich starred in the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar! and Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, and then was cast as young Han Solo in the upcoming Star Wars spinoff. “When I met with him, I was too young for the role,” Ehrenreich told BuzzFeed News of Beatty. “I was 19. And I think he knew I was too young for the role, and I’d like to think he waited for me.” He laughed. “That’s not true, but it’s nice to think that.” (By Adam B. Vary)

5. Jodie Foster

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

Jodie Foster has been in the entertainment industry for 50 of her 53 years. She was 14 years old when she was first nominated for an Oscar and 26 when she won Best Actress for the first time. “I feel like my whole life has worked up to this. Yeah, I’m a young director. I’ve only done four movies, and I have a lot to learn, and I’m excited about that,” Foster told BuzzFeed News before her latest directorial effort, Money Monster, was released. “I’ll always act. But I want it to be special.” (By Kate Aurthur)

6. Noah Galvin

Image Group LA / ABC

Noah Galvin is a young gay actor proudly playing a gay teenager on ABC’s The Real O’Neals. “He’s gay and Catholic and has a relationship with God, and it’s the others around him who need to accept it and get used to it,” Galvin told BuzzFeed News of his character, Kenny. “It’s a cool thing … to show kids that they can be religious and they can have a relationship with God regardless of their sexuality.” (By Jarett Wieselman)

7. Bryce Dallas Howard

Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed News

While her father was directing the likes of Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks, Bryce Dallas Howard was teaching herself to cry on cue. Now she’s established herself as more than someone’s daughter, and she’s learned the haters don’t deserve her tears. “I’ll be the lady with the high heels until the day I die and I’ll be damn proud of it!” she told BuzzFeed News, referring to her Jurassic World character. (By Jarett Wieselman)

8. Ayo Jay

You may not be familiar with the 26-year-old singer and songwriter Ayo Jay, but you probably know his viral, dancehall-influenced song “Your Number.” Jay’s Nigerian accent (chorus: “Can I git your numbaaahh”) has no real precedent in mainstream American pop, which is to say nothing of subsequent traces of Otherness, including the use of West African pidgin English and the name of his paramour (Amarachi). “There are thousands, millions of people in Africa who make music, and they never get to this level,” Jay told BuzzFeed News. “Trust me, I’m not taking anything for granted. It makes me feel like I have to do more and show more qualities of the African musician, so that the world knows we’re here to stay.” (By Reggie Ugwu)

9. Vanessa Kirby

Macey J. Foronda for BuzzFeed News

She might not play the Queen, but Vanessa Kirby is The Crown’s jewel. On the Netflix series, she plays Margaret, the younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy). And she’s easily the historic drama series’ most tragic figure — she’s denied the man she loves and the limelight she craves, and she struggles with her own sense of self in light of her sister’s position. “There was a risk of making her sort of arch,” Kirby told BuzzFeed News of Margaret. “I never want to make any characters one-dimensional, especially as women can often be portrayed as the dark one or the evil one.” (By Keely Flaherty)

10. Karyn Kusama

Joyce Lee for BuzzFeed News

Director Karyn Kusama’s debut movie Girlfight was a critical knockout in 2000; her latest film, The Invitation, opened to raves. To get from that point to this one, however, she told BuzzFeed News it was “like open heart surgery without the painkillers.” (By Adam B. Vary)

11. Eva Longoria

Jared Harrell for BuzzFeed News

A decade after Desperate Housewives put her on the map, Eva Longoria returned with a new TV show, a renewed mission in life, and the wisdom to know how they can work in tandem. “I always want to be the smartest and the best person at whatever I’m doing,” she told BuzzFeed News. (By Jarett Wieselman)

12. Madina Nalwanga

Victoria Will for BuzzFeed News

Prior to Queen of Katwe, 16-year-old Uganda native Nalwanga had never acted in a film, let alone been interviewed by press for one. The Toronto International Film Festival was the very same festival where, two years before, Kenyan-raised Lupita Nyong’o, who stars as her mom in Katwe, helped to premiere 12 Years a Slave, a film that would yield many firsts for her, including an Academy Award. “I was so nervous to meet you,” Nyong’o told Nalwanga in a conversation with BuzzFeed News at the festival. “I was like, oh, I have to be her mother? How am I gonna be her mother? And will she like me? Will we get along? Will it be hard to bond? Then I walked into the production office to meet you … and you said, ‘Hi, Mom!’ And that just warmed my heart. I was like, oh! It’s going to be really easy to get along with this girl. And I gave you a hug. I knew we would be fast friends.” (By Katie Hasty)

13. Leslie Odom Jr.

Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Hamilton is one of Broadway’s all-time biggest hits. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, its Aaron Burr reflected on what the show has meant for him professionally and, more importantly, as a person of color. “Actors of color rarely get to do material that is that well-crafted. That’s exciting. I was seeing something really special,” he said of Hamilton. “Theater can be any fucking thing we want it to be. It is malleable. It is strong. It is sturdy. … Kids can play adults. And old people can play young people. And black people can play white people and Asian people can play black people. If it’s done with a thoughtfulness and a care and a reason, we can do anything.” (By Louis Peitzman)

14. Chris Pratt

Patrik Giardino

In two short years, he went from the adorable chubby goofball on Parks and Recreation to one of the biggest movie stars in the world, his likability transcending our bitter cultural divide. But with the sci-fi romance Passengers, Chris Pratt tested just how beloved he really is. “That descent into desperation and darkness — there’s not a lot of actors who could really take the audience on a journey like that,” Passengers director Morten Tyldum told BuzzFeed News. (By Adam B. Vary)

15. Shannon Purser

In her first interview about her breakout character from Stranger Things, Purser told BuzzFeed News why we really are all Barb. “I think everybody at some point in their life feels like a Barb,” she said. “They feel like they’re a little bit of an outcast or they’re not at the top of their social circle or they’re being neglected. Like any other human being, I’ve definitely felt that way.” (By Jarett Wieselman)

16. Naya Rivera

Amanda Friedman for BuzzFeed News

She’s appeared onscreen for nearly three decades and starred on one of TV’s most popular shows. She’s been an obsession of tabloids and fans. But if you think you know Naya Rivera, think again. “I’m a bait and switch, unintentionally,” she told BuzzFeed News. (By Jarett Wieselman)

17. Phoebe Robinson

Gretchen Robinette for BuzzFeed News

One of comedy’s dopest queens has been working the circuit for years. But with a new book and a role on a highly anticipated TV show, this may finally be the moment Robinson and those who love her have been waiting for. “I’m in a place where I don’t make my living acting in other people’s stuff, so I can be like, ‘This is gross. This is not feminist to me and I don’t want to be a part of it,’” she told BuzzFeed News. (By Alanna Bennett)

18. Fred Savage

Scott Council for BuzzFeed News

After a 15-year career behind the camera, Savage talked to BuzzFeed News about the role that brought him back in front of it and what he learned from Kevin Arnold. “Any career for 30 years is pretty extraordinary, let alone in the entertainment business. And I feel like I’m just getting started,” he said. “I know how lucky I am that I can work in a field and make my living in a field that I love. That’s a rare thing.” (By Louis Peitzman)

19. Jurnee Smollett-Bell

Skip Bolen / Sony Pictures Television

The 29-year-old actor, who got her start on Full House, looked back on TGIF, being in the Jason Katims family, and Bill Cosby. “I definitely think the roles I had done before prepared me for this,” Smollett-Bell said of her latest show Underground. “Although this is really unlike anything I have done in so many ways, without a doubt everything led to this.” (By Jarett Wieselman)

20. Gabrielle Union

Isaiah Trickey / FilmMagic

Sexual assault engulfed The Birth of a Nation, not only because of the film’s content, but because its director, star, and screenwriter Nate Parker was accused of rape 17 years ago. Only one member of the cast and crew truly spoke openly about sexual violence, and she’s a survivor herself. “Every time I talk about sexual violence, I wanna puke,” Union said during a press conference for the film at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. “There’s never been a time in the last 23 years that I did not want to vomit. But my personal discomfort is nothing compared to being a voice for people who feel absolutely voiceless and powerless.” (By Katie Hasty)

21. Taika Waititi

The Orchard

The New Zealand filmmaker was put at the forefront of Disney’s push toward diversity. But, he told BuzzFeed News, that doesn’t mean he’s committing to a career in studio movies. “I’ve turned down pretty much every script I’ve ever been sent. I didn’t turn down Thor because there wasn’t a script,” he said. “At the moment, I feel like there aren’t many Hollywood films where I would make a difference.” (By Alison Willmore)

22. Larry Wilmore

Bryan Bedder / Getty Images for Comedy Central

As he adjusts after commenting nightly on an election that felt like the end of the world, Insecure and other behind-the-camera projects are keeping the former late-night host levelheaded. “We have to find a new conversation, a new way to have those conversations, and I’m always looking for those ways,” he told BuzzFeed News. (By Marcus Jones)

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