It’s a wonderful feeling to know the talents and skills of a young prodigy before they get famous. So many times, we’ll get curious and research just how some Hollywood celebrity got their start and rose to fame and we’ll often realize that they were so easily overlooked in their youth- not because they weren’t as skilled as their peers or older colleagues but because they are simply young. Well, that’s a bogus wrap.
Children and teens can be immensely talented, even though they haven’t had the training and experience that older and more seasoned professionals have been able to accrue. There’s something about the innocence of young artists that have not had educators and trainers instilling in them established doctrines of learning that is so pure and raw- these youngsters are creating visceral artistic experiences that are as close to real as they can be. Part of that is simply spectacular- while, simultaneously, it’s kind of freaky that these actors don’t always know how to separate the real world from their art. It’s a dangerous thing to let these young people make art that may be potentially damaging or skewing their psyche. That’s why there are always so many questions when writers, producers, directors, and the like all consider involving children in their production (that and, you know, those pesky child labor laws).
So who are you likely to be looking up in ten years, wondering “where did they come from?” They’re already here and willing to share their art with the world, so take a look. Here are fifteen child prodigies that will be crazy famous in ten years.
15. Mackenzie Foy
Mackenzie Foy is another young actress that has accrued plenty of amazing credits on her resume and is bound to have an amazing career as an adult actress, yet no one seems to ever be able to recognize her. Mackenzie has been acting since 2009 (when she was nine years old), but she didn’t get her first big role until 2011 with the popular hit The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part One where she got to play the lead characters’ daughter, Renesmee. Since then, her career has only gotten better and brighter. She was in the horror movie The Conjuring, Wish You Well, Interstellar, and The Little Prince, just to name a few of her biggest hits. She’ll also be starring in the upcoming (and highly anticipated) winter movie of 2017, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms as the lead Clara. The talented young lady has come a long way since Twilight, and we can’t wait to see what wonderful work she continues to produce.
14. Dafne Keen
If you haven’t been able to go out to the theatres recently, you’ve probably never heard of Dafne Keen or seen her adorable face. And that’s not because she hasn’t been around! Dafne has had a very limited career, starring only in a television series for one year called The Refugees. However, that’s not what she’s known for. Everyone is screaming for more to happen in her career now because of her magnificent performance in the latest installment of the X-Men series, Logan, where she plays a young mutant named Laura who is on the run for her life. We won’t go and spoil the movie for you (yet… we’d love to have a whole article just to talk about this spectacular film), but know that this young lady of only twelve years of age is a phenomenal actress with not only the talent, but something bold, important, and revolutionary to say.
13. Onafujiri “Fuji” Remet
We’ve been talking a lot about actors and, while they are incredibly talented and have a lot to share with the world via the loudspeaker that is modern day cinema and television production, they are not the only talented young prodigies out there. Take, for instance, this overwhelmingly talented young boy. This seven year old photographer from Nigeria, nicknamed “Fuji,” has been photographing life in his home for four years- that’s right, since he was a toddler. Not only is it remarkable that this young boy is able to perfectly capture the beauty, difficulties, hardships, and joys of his home in Nigeria, but there’s something quite gorgeous in seeing it from the perspective of this miniature person! Plus, who can resist something this amazing: a toddler professional photographer and digital photography artist?! Who has been featured in several exhibitions?! This little boy is too remarkable and adorable for his own good! His parents encourage his artistic passions with full vehemence, hoping he is able to show the world what he sees.
12. Millie Bobby Brown
If you haven’t seen Netflix’s series Stranger Things yet, you’re seriously missing out. Like, seriously. We’ll excuse you, you can stop reading the article, flip over to Netflix, and go ahead and binge watch the whole first season. We’ll wait.
Stranger Things has won SAG awards for outstanding performance (an award that went directly to Millie) and a Producers Guild of America award. It is a damn good show, and a lot of it is due to the amazing young cast. She had a noteworthy career before Stranger Things as well, including credits from Intruders and Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, but she’s really changed the game with her performance on the Netflix original series. Next up for her is a leading role in Godzilla: King of Monsters and, honestly, this may be the first time we’ve been genuinely excited for a Godzilla movie. With her in it, it’s bound to be good.
11. Maddie Ziegler
Young Miss Maddie Ziegler is far from unknown, though you may not know her by name. Maddie got her start on the (let’s be honest, terrible) TV show Dance Moms about young dancers whose mothers are tyrannical, bratty, horrible women that force their children to live highly regimented lives in hopes that their kids will have great futures as dancers. While we’d like to say these moms all fail and their kids get to have childhoods, Mrs. Ziegler succeeded and Maddie is already quite a famous hit. If you’ve ever seen a Sia music video, you’ve probably seen Maddie hard at work doing some of the most elaborate, artistic, and modern dances you’ve ever seen. She’s more than impressive for a dancer of her age- she’s stunning. And if she’s already this good, imagine how sensational she’ll be when she’s in her twenties. If you haven’t seen her, you should certainly check out a Sia video: we recommend her dance with Shia LaBeouf in “Elastic Heart.”
10. Annika Wedderkopp
This surly little kid doesn’t look like she has a lot that she wants to share with us, but trust us when we report to you just how sensational this little lady is. The wonderful Danish film that she starred in that caught the eye of every critic and interested party was The Hunt, in which a young girl accuses her kindergarten teacher of having sexually abused her. It’s a scary movie, one that makes viewers immediately despise the teacher but hold on- the little girl is lying. Motivated by spite and an unrequited crush on her teacher, the girl hopes to get the teacher in trouble. The film sheds light on the ability of children to lie, just as adults do- a tricky and unnerving subject. The young girl was amazing in the film and is already on to her next project, QEDA, a dystopian story of drama and science fiction we’re all excited for.
9. Kaitlyn Maher
You may not think you’ve seen or heard Kaitlyn, but you’d likely be wrong. This young girl has some of the best pipes we’ve ever heard (and by pipes we, of course, mean singing voice). When she sings, her voice sounds like whispers from the angels. If warm cotton sheets or fluffy slippers could sing, they would sound like Kaitlyn. Her voice has calming and soothing qualities to it; it has the innocence of a child but the clarity and training of a Broadway singer. She is spectacular. You may have heard her on the soundtracks to one of the Search for Santa Paws movies though, more likely, you’ve probably overheard her Christmas music while shopping at the mall or seen her on one of her many TV special appearances (such as Today, America’s Got Talent, Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, and The Bonnie Hunt Show). Here’s to hoping puberty doesn’t change her voice too much.
8. Waad Mohammed
Waad is just a young girl, merely sixteen, but she’s done something truly spectacular with her tiny acting career already. She is something of an anomaly, a shooting star that has graced our screens with something truly revolutionary, ground-breaking, and touching; something we can hopefully all learn from. She starred in Wadjda, a Saudi Arabian film (the first Saudi Arabian film, as a matter of fact, that was ever directed by a woman OR won a foreign language Oscar) about a simple girl wanting a simple thing: a bicycle on which to race her friend. She was sensational and spectacular when showing the life of a young woman in such a difficult and different culture than our own, and she totally deserved that Oscar. She’s not doing any acting currently, perhaps from repercussions after shooting such a controversial film in Saudi Arabia or to finish her studies, but we hope she returns to our screens soon to give us more amazing art.
7. Jacob Tremblay
Jacob Tremblay is only eleven years old, a mere pipsqueak who hasn’t yet felt the odd sensation of his voice beginning to drop, yet he’s already proving himself to be quite the force to reckon with on the big screen. Jacob acted in a few small roles in television shows and movies before scoring his best role, a role that made us weep and gasp and laugh and hold our breath: Jack, in the cinematic version of author Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel Room. The movie is about a young woman, played by Brie Larson, who is kidnapped and impregnated with the young boy before finding a way to escape years later with him. It’s a heartbreaking story that Jacob delivered to us in a chillingly marvelous performance. He’s since been in a few more titles and currently has four film projects either waiting to be released or in production. This youngster has a lot to offer us as he grows up.
6. Sennia Nanua
Sennia doesn’t have much of a career to speak of, but what she has done is spectacular. Who’s to say- maybe she (and her agent) are just crazy selective about what roles she actually takes? Her first role was in a video short called Beverley, wherein a young girl of mixed racial backgrounds struggles to find her identity in a world filled with chaos, hate, and confusion. The short won three awards and was nominated for another for the striking choices of the writer/director as well as this brilliant actress. Her performance earned her a role as one of the UK hits of the year in 2016, in The Girl With All The Gifts (adapted from the novel by M. R. Carey) alongside Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton. Though she doesn’t seem to have any more projects on the horizon at this moment, we’re certain this young star has a lot of brilliant work in her future.
5. Ethan Bortnick
Though this cute little boy is a bit older today than he looks in this picture (today, he is seventeen- still young enough to be a child prodigy, if you ask us), he’s still one of the quickest, cleverest, and most talented youngsters you’re bound to stumble upon out there. Ethan has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s youngest solo musician to ever headline his own tour- this was when he was just fifteen, mind you. Ethan has been playing the piano since he was three years old and in the course of his tours, he has managed to raise over $40 million for charities globally. He has his own public television show, but that seriously looks like his past-time for when he’s done with homework and wants something to do. Ethan is so immensely talented, he could go on to being one of the next greatest composers of our modern times.
4. Kyla Kenedy
You may actually recognize Kyla Kenedy fairly quickly, if you’re a fan of science fiction, television dramas, and a brain-smashing-good-time. Kyla had a wonderful role in The Walking Dead as Mika Samuels, one of the young girls adopted by Carol after they were driven out of the prison by The Governor. Kyla did a wonderful job as this sweet and innocent young girl that simply wasn’t made for that world, but this show is far from her only acting credit. In fact, Kyla has been acting since 2011- when she was only eight! She’s also been in Speechless, Rizzoli & Isles, The Night Shift, and The New Normal. At only fourteen years old, it’s kind of amazing how much this youngster has been able to do. She’s still got plenty of consistent work on Speechless but we’re looking forward to all the work this gorgeous youngster has on the horizon.
3. Ty Simpkins
You likely recognize Ty Simpkins for all of his work, no matter how long ago you saw your favorite movie of his. Ty has been acting since 2001- aka, since the year he was born. Ty was a baby actor, commonly used on soap operas like One Life to Live and Guiding Light. Moving up in the world once he was old enough to know he was better than daytime TV, he had small roles in Revolutionary Road and War of the Worlds before scoring his first big box office hit role in Insidious. If you don’t know him from that (you should see the movie because he is terrifying), you may know him from Jurassic World, Iron Man 3, or The Nice Guys. He’s honestly an amazing actor and we can see already that he’s going to grow up to be quite the looker and a talented performer to boot- so we’re sure to see him on our big screen for a while to come.
2. Tanishq Abraham
But enough about actors! They aren’t everything, right?! Let’s talk about a child prodigy that will likely be famous not for the number of times he graces our television screens or for the amount of awards he’ll score from the Academy, but for genuinely changing the world.
Meet Tanishq Abraham, a thirteen-year-old in his final year of earning his bachelor’s degree. As if that weren’t enough, he’d already had three associate degrees by the time he was eleven! He has lofty aspirations right now: to be a doctor, a researcher, and then President of the United States (a weird jump in career, we think, but hey- if Trump can do it, this kid should be able to). His younger sister, who is three years his junior, is almost as equally brilliant as him. They both joined the IQ society MENSA at young ages and have been challenging themselves to be brighter and better every day since.
1. Quvenzhane Wallis
Finally, wrapping up our list of talented youngsters, we have Quvenzhane Wallis. If you know her from any of her acting work, you’d probably recognize her first from her Christmas movie Annie, the remake of the musical classic where she played the title character with a vocal performance that would impress anyone. But if you want to see the talents of this young girl had at work, you’ve got to go back to the beginnings of her career and see her in Beasts of the Southern Wild, a beautiful, heart-wrenching, soulful story of a young girl on a journey for courage all alone. Since then, she’s also starred in 12 Years a Slave and Fathers & Daughters, and she’s got a film coming up that sounds profound and beautiful called Counting by 7s. She’s clearly an amazing actress that we hope sticks around a long time, not only for her talent but for her ability to reach us in an emotional way most actors strive their entire careers to.