Making a breakthrough in pop culture during any year is hard. Doing it during a global pandemic is an entirely different thing.
This year's five Associated Press’ Breakthrough Entertainers of the Year managed to create buzz and art against a year like no other. They brightened a 2020 that badly needed light.
They are Anya Taylor-Joy, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Sarah Cooper and Finneas. These performers broke through into the mainstream and made a mark on entertainment this year, despite lockdowns — and, in the case of Edgar-Jones, perhaps because of them, sending people desperate for connection to her series “Normal People."
The AP’s fourth annual list spotlights how fast fame can come: It took a mere four months from when Cooper started posting videos of herself on TikTok lip-synching President Donald Trump to filming her own hourlong Netflix special alongside Helen Mirren.
Abdul-Mateen's career may have started later than most, but he was all over 2020, in the films “All Day and a Night” and Aaron Sorkin’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” His year was highlighted with the Emmy for Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his acclaimed performance as Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s lauded series “Watchmen.”
And while Billie Eilish is a sensation, it’s time her brother, Finneas, is also celebrated. She won five
In a year when many people's output slackened, Anya Taylor-Joy seemed to find another gear: She played a meddling British brat in “Emma,” a Russian mutant with teleportation powers in the latest “X-Men” film, and an American orphan who turns out to be a chess phenom who can checkmate grown men by the time she’s 8 in “The Queen’s Gambit.”
Taylor-Joy said when she was a kid she dreamed of flying off to imaginary lands. "Now as an adult, I’m like, ‘I live in Narnia.’ Like, this is amazing.” In a year like 2020, it was appropriate that millions escaped with her.
The Associated Press