The "10 to Watch" program at the Hamptons International Film Festival used to be called "Rising Stars," from which a very talented group of actors including Emily Blunt, Adam Driver, Alicia Vikander, and Dane DeHaan, rose. This year, the 4 of the 10 attending, Riz Ahmed, Mahershala Ali, Aja Naomi King, and Kara Hayward, have distinguished careers: Ahmed starred in HBO's The Night Of, Ali in various television roles as a bad guy, King in How to Get Away With Murder, and Hayward, the envy of them all, landed a starring role in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom at age 12.
Last Saturday, they each spoke at a Nick & Toni's brunch about the challenges of acting so far. Aja Naomi King, a star of the current Birth of a Nation, talked about her first day of shooting, in the extremely upsetting scene of a slave being sold on the auction block. Riz Ahmed laughed about being profiled at airports, how auditions are similar to being detained and interrogated. Mahershala Ali, a star of one of this year's best features, Moonlight, plays a drug dealer who is also paternal, good to his girlfriend, and genuinely a gentleman. Ali says he grew up with such men, nurturing and respected in the community who nevertheless engaged in criminal businesses. His Moonlight character breaks the stereotype. Now 17, Hayward attended the festival with two much praised films, Jim Jarmusch's Paterson and Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By the Sea. That evening, the Australian boot company Blundstone sponsored the festival's Manchester By the Sea centerpiece screening.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.