Fall TV Just Got Better Thanks to These 5 Performances

We've got our eye on these rising stars, and so should you.

Fall TV Just Got Better Thanks to These 5 Performances

We know it’s hard to keep up with all of the great shows during television’s high season. Hey, even the president of the Television Academy acknowledged as much at the Emmys earlier this month. Networks and streaming services are constantly fighting for our attention with flashy new series, spin-offs, and buzzy adaptations. It’s overwhelming, to put it mildly. But that’s where our annual Ones to Watch portfolio comes in. We like to think of this curated roundup of best performances as a handy cheat sheet to what and who should be on your radar this fall.  

We’ve scoured the new lineup of sharp comedies, hair-raising thrillers, juicy dramas, and exciting action-adventure stories to bring you five rising stars who have caught our attention with their excellent on-screen talents. From a mysterious runaway hiding an unnerving secret to a fresh take on a beloved Anne Rice character, these breakout performances are not to be missed. But before you dive into a full-on binge-watching session, we thought you should get to know the actors first. Below, we caught up with each to learn a bit more about their shows, aspirations, and fashion proclivities.

WHO: Daniela Nieves

WHAT: We’re calling it: Vampires are going to be big this fall, starting with Peacock’s adaptation of Richelle Mead’s beloved YA novel series Vampire Academy. Based on the events of the first book, the show centers on Rose Hathaway, a half-vampire guardian whose duty is to protect the peaceful Moroi vampire society; Lissa Dragomir, a Moroi princess; and their adventures at St. Vladimir’s Academy. It’s a story of friendship, romance, and danger. Stepping into the lead role of Lissa—played by Lucy Fry in the 2014 film adaptation—is Daniela Nieves. The Venezuela native and former face of Nickelodeon is right at home in this supernatural world, having previously starred in such hit shows as Every Witch Way and WITS Academy and the Nickelodeon original movie Every Witch Way: Spellbound. She is an immediate standout in the show, and not just because of her incredible costumes. Though, those are a delight too.

What really excited me about this adaptation of the Vampire Academy novels was… The fact that it was an adaptation since I have always dreamed of being part of a show or movie based on novels. This one, in particular, is a story involving magic, vampire fights, feeding chambers, and castles. It’s modern-day storytelling with elements of a period piece. I was allowed the opportunity to be around all of those aspects—not to mention the large group of devoted fans that came with it, fans who have imagined in their heads everything we were creating after reading hundreds of pages. It’s cool to have that fan base to share this all with. 

My favorite part of stepping into the role of Lissa Dragomir has been… Learning how to fill in the shoes of a princess. I had the tiaras, the gowns, the custom suits, and more. I got to feel what it’d be like to have this royal lifestyle with all its rather impractical glitz and glam. There is a physicality element that goes into playing a princess, which was fun to tap into and practice! It felt like an absolute dream.

Lissa has so many great looks in the show, but my favorite is… The funeral scene with the gold-collared Sandro trench coat, the black leather gloves, and the sunglasses. So cute. She also has a baby-pink Valentino sweaterdress set that I’m obsessed with!

The stories that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… The ones that I would be most excited to watch as a viewer. Stories that really focus on exploring the dynamics and complexities of human relationships. Visual storytelling that evokes feelings and sensations you can’t express with words. 

Outside of acting, some of my other passions include… Singing, the artistry of makeup, and writing.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing…A cute workout or loungewear set, dainty jewelry, and sneakers.

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… Mixing in “wrong items” [and] having something thats one style and mixing in a shoe, a bag, a jacket, etc. that dresses it up or down in the opposite direction the outfit was originally going. Also, [I’m a] total sucker for 90s fashion!

My fall wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…

Leather loafers elevate so many fall looks. Theyre fun and give your outfit an elegant touch. I’d wear these with anything—an LBD with sheer tights or thin, cute white ankle socks and a mini black skirt. You can’t go wrong with black leather loafers.

Knit sweaters are just so comforting in the fall. I love to pair them with a button-up underneath, and if the button-up has a fun collar, even better.

Wool coats will definitely keep you very warm, which is nice in the fall when temperatures are a little misleading. They make your outfit look so put-together and expensive. If you have an outfit you love for the fall but you’re afraid it’ll be too chilly out, just throw on a wool coat and you’ll probably be good. No need for extra layering!

WHO: Madeleine Arthur

WHAT: If you are looking for a chilling watch this spooky season, let us direct you to the limited series Devil in Ohio. The Netflix thriller is based on Daria Polatin’s best-selling novel of the same name about a hospital psychiatrist who takes in a teen girl who escaped a satanic cult, putting both her life and family in danger. The real hair-raising part? The story is based on true events. The suspense of the show relies heavily on its mysterious runaway, and Madeleine Arthur (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) plays the part of Mae brilliantly, imbuing the character with an unnerving innocence that has you questioning her true intentions at every turn. If scary isn’t your thing, no problem. Arthur is also bringing the funny this fall with the Netflix comedy Blockbuster, a series about the staff of the last remaining Blockbuster store in the U.S. 

My reaction to reading the Devil in Ohio script for the first time was… After finishing the script for the first episode, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more! It’s not initially revealed what my character Mae is running from, so I had so many questions. Who was this girl, and why was it so vital that she escaped? The entire story has so many twists and turns that kept me guessing.

To get into the mindset of Mae, a fragile teen who has spent her life sheltered in a satanic cult, I… Did a lot of preparation by researching isolated communities and the stories of those leaving/escaping an insular group. I also played with Mae’s mannerisms and did sensory work to lock into her traumatic past. It was really a challenging and rewarding experience.

Up next, I have the Netflix comedy Blockbuster, which I can tell you is… Fun! [It’s] full of joy, heart, and everything that makes life the roller coaster that it is. It’ll probably be a walk down memory lane for many of us who, like myself, grew up roaming the aisles of Blockbuster looking for their favorite movies.

The stories that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… Stories that leave a lasting impression, those that take you on a journey and inspire. Based on truth or fiction, I love a thought-provoking tale.

Outside of acting, some of my other passions include… I’m always trying new activities because I don’t like to sit still! Recently, I’ve picked up boxing. I also love the outdoors and art. You can often find me exploring a museum, traveling, or attempting a new recipe!

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… Jeans, a fun shirt, and some kind of shoe that’s good for hitting 10,000 steps. … I love walking wherever I can.

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… A turtleneck. I have a wide array of them. Classic, cutout, tank, you name it. They always make me feel chic.

My fall wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…

I love this Parisian label. I randomly met the designer and visited her atelier. These pants are perfect for dressing up or down. I can equally pair them with a sneaker or a boot.

[This bag is] great for heading out on a walk and big enough for my essentials. It also transitions nicely into an evening-out bag for dancing.

Similar styles available here.  It’s from last season, but I love all things Shrimps, especially their coats. I love the bold pattern on this jacket. It feels so cool and luxe. I throw it over everything for a fun look.

WHO: Bailey Bass

WHAT: Remember what we said about vampires earlier? Cue the next big adaptation of the season: Interview With the Vampire. Anne Rice’s iconic novel is getting a revamp (sorry, not sorry) for AMC on October 2 with a fresh crop of talent taking on our favorite immortals—Louis, Lestat, and Claudia. While we’ll always have a soft spot for Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of forever child Claudia in the 1994 film, newcomer Bailey Bass offers an exciting new take on the role. The show may be our introduction to the immense talent of the 19-year-old, but Hollywood legends like James Cameron have already taken note. Later this year, Bass will step into the world of Pandora for the Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water

The AMC version of Interview With the Vampire is a modern retelling of the classic Anne Rice novel, and I can’t wait for audiences to see… How detailed Louis, Lestat, and Claudia are. Being a series as opposed to a feature, we have so much time to learn who these characters are, and they are complex.

In making Claudia my own, I was excited to bring… A variety of emotional elements to her. Playing Claudia, I got to explore every emotion a human can feel as a vampire stuck in a 14-year-old body yet ever evolving mentally. 

Later this year… I have the honor of making my theatrical feature-film debut in James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of the Water. With everything being kept tightly under wraps, what I can tell you about my character Tsireya is that she is a strong and kind free diver with a big heart.

The stories that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… Stories told and led by strong females and stories with heart. Strong women inspire me. I want to feel something when I watch a movie or TV show. Whether I’m empowered or inspired, I want to be moved. Watching these kinds of stories makes me want to be a part of them. I want to also be that person for others. One of the best parts of playing Claudia and Tsireya is seeing how connected audiences are with them, even before the projects are released.

Outside of acting, some of my other passions include… Songwriting. I was fortunate enough to write a song for a movie I was a part of last year. I’m grateful that both my passions, acting and songwriting, have become my careers and occasionally can work cohesively together.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… Sweats, especially if I’m at home. I stay in my pajamas until I have to leave the house. But when I do leave the house, I am always on point, even if it’s just to the grocery store. My go-to items are rings and Converse. They’ve been a staple of mine since middle school.

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… Suits. Ugh, how a love a suit. Whether it’s a full blazer and pants or swapped out for a skirt, a suit is a power outfit. There’s also so much room to play with suits. They can be form fitting or super loose. They can be paired with heels or platform sneakers. Suits are so much fun, and I love how women have taken a menswear staple and made them so much more!

My fall wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…

Most of my outfits, unless it’s pouring rain outside, would not be complete without a pair of Chucks. I have about 30 pairs. One of my favorite collections was the JW Anderson collection. I try to take advantage of every new limited-edition drop.

Another very essential, undeniably important fall piece [is] my Aritzia socks. But for real, I care about every piece of my outfit, down to the socks. … Plus, they’re so comfy and a great excuse to go into the pretty Aritzia store.

And lastly, no everyday outfit is complete without my Baggu bag. I’m such a mom friend, so this bag is perfect and surprisingly spacious. From Paw Patrol– and Frozen-themed bandages to tissues to multiple lip balms for all moods to Gas-X (which comes in handy more often than people would think), I’ve got my friends and family covered.

WHO: Sonia Mena

WHAT: We do not lie. Hulu’s new series Tell Me Lies is seriously good. Executive-produced by Emma Roberts, the show is an adaptation of Carola Lovering’s best-selling novel of the same name that follows the tumultuous yet addicting relationship between Lucy Albright and Stephen DeMarco over the course of eight years. It’s got sex, scandal, juicy plotlines, and a gorgeous cast—what else do you need? Speaking of the cast, we have to talk about Sonia Mena, who is so much fun to watch as Pippa, Lucy’s fiery best “friend.” Pippa is the life of the party, and more often than not, she says what we’re all thinking. There’s also a softness under the surface that endears her to the viewer, and Mena strikes that balance with ease. We can’t say enough great things about this performance.    

I think a novel like Tell Me Lies makes for a fantastic TV series because… It’s full of people misbehaving.

Something that really resonated with me about this story in particular is… The complexity of female friendships. … Ah, frenemies and the way we all just want to be loved. 

Pippa is such a rewarding character to play as an actor because… She’s so multilayered and is hiding so much. It’s an endless puzzle. 

The stories that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… Ones that tell real, funny stories about my people. Representation is everything.

Outside of acting, some of my other passions include… Cooking elaborate meals for too many people, adventuring, taking photos of said adventures, and messing something up on my camera half the time.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… Baggy pants and a T-shirt. 

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… Anything I can move in.

My fall wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces… 

I love the wild, distressed graphics from Troubled But Calm, and the fact that every piece is limited edition makes it that much better. Next time someone tries to steal your identity and asks you where you got that shirt, you can be sure to let them know they can try and copy you, but they will simply not succeed.

It’s giving femme. It’s giving kind of masc. It’s channeling that big “troubled pop star” energy that I haven’t been able to shake since filming Tell Me Lies. It’s also reminding me of all the hearts I drew in my notebook in high school.

Never leave the house without some good socks—ever.

WHO: Kosar Ali

WHAT: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel Dangerous Liaisons is considered to be one of the most controversial works in European literature. Yet the scandalous story—which follows a scheming widow and her narcissistic ex-lover who make a cruel bet at the expense of another woman—has been the subject of countless adaptations across the stage and screen. Its themes of love, jealousy, and envy remain timeless, giving way to new and exciting interpretations of the work, like the Starz series Dangerous Liaisons (November 6). The show serves as a prequel to the events of Laclos’s book, diving into the origin stories of each of its characters. In regards to casting, we’ve got our eyes on Kosar Ali in the role of Victoire, a chambermaid tasked with carrying out many of Marquise de Merteuil’s schemes. The BAFTA-nominated actress gained much critical acclaim following her performance in Rocks, and we’re excited to see how she leaves her mark on this series. 

Dangerous Liaisons is a story that has been adapted across stage, opera, ballet, film, and television. I’m particularly excited about this version for Starz because… As many know, Dangerous Liaisons has been a story that has taken many different angles and perspectives throughout the years. However, I’m particularly excited about this version on Starz, as it’s a prequel or prelude that really explores how those characters came to be and the events that have transpired and led them to their destination. 

Though the original novel was published in 1782, I think the story is still relevant today because… Dangerous Liaisons is a text that explores so many common themes of the human condition, from jealousy to envy to love. Even if written in 1782, it will always be relevant because, as time goes on, the human experience rarely changes. Victoire is special to me for so many reasons, but mainly because of her ambition. She has such an admirable drive to her humour and beauty along with being mischievous and brave. She’s majestic and subtle. Whilst filming, we called her the detective of the show because what she puts her mind to she really does. 

The stories that make me feel excited to work in this industry are… Stories that really get us to feel. I think acting is such a privilege and power because we get to not only explore our feelings and portray this but also take the viewers on that journey with us, to sympathize or empathize with us. The stories that really do that for me are stories that feel real, stories that are powerful, dark, and honest. 

Outside of acting, some of my other passions include… I really love writing. [I write] mostly short stuff and poems to myself, but I think I might actually take it seriously. I also love photography, mostly film of candid moments and portraits. I shadowed our director Olly Blackburn on Dangerous Liaisons for a few days, and directing is something I think I might love to do in the future.

If you catch me off duty, chances are I’m wearing… If I’m not working and in a costume, I’m usually wearing how I feel on the day. It’s weird, but I dress depending on how I feel, but mostly, it’s oversize clothes that are comfortable and cute.

When it comes to fashion, I’m a total sucker for… I love fashion. It’s my language and honestly what makes me feel confident and expressive. I’m obsessed with clothes that tell a story, from proportions to structure, anything that talks to me and gives me that fire in my gut.

My fall wardrobe would not be complete without these three pieces…

Light sweater because it’s versatile and especially works with laying during autumn.

Baggy black jeans are the basic essential. Everyone must have a pair.

Chunky black boots because they go with everything!

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