Every generation has that actress. The one who achieves great success, earns respect in their field, and consistently wins acting awards. Right now, Meryl Streep is the reigning queen of the acting world. With 20 (!) Oscar nominations and 23 (!) for the Golden Globes, she holds the record of the most noms for both of these prestigious awards. With so many accolades, she has some big shoes to fill, but there are plenty of young actresses with the potential to dethrone, or at the very least become comparable (someday), to Meryl’s huge success and talent.
Millennials are defined as individuals born between the years 1983-1998. Right now, this generation is on top of the world — coming into their own around the globe in pretty much every field. The same goes for actresses and the world of entertainment. Yes, they are still just starting the careers that hopefully will become successful lives full of fame and recognition. The following 20 millennial actresses have achieved great critical acclaim and commercial success and one of them will be our generation’s Streep.
1. Chloe-Grace Moretz – Born 1997
Ever since she played a potty mouth superhero in Kick-Ass, she’s been surprising us with her acting chops. She does a variety of films, more recently Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and Brain on Fire — portraying a reporter with schizophrenia. She has done well in every movie she’s been in so far and she’ll only continue to grow with her talent. We believe in her!
2. Anna Kendrick – Born 1985
If you follow this lady on Twitter, you know already that she is super funny. But then again, you saw the Pitch Perfect movies (where she showcased her vocal skills), and the recent Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, so that’s already a proven FACT. Don’t forget she got her big break playing the annoying Jessica in the Twilight franchise.
She’s worked steadily since, having done a good range of both comedies and dramas. She recently released an autobiography called, Scrappy Little Nobody and the third Pitch Perfect movie comes out right before Christmas. Anna Kendrick is well on her way to becoming one of the most influential actresses of our generation.
3. Kristen Stewart – Born 1990
Speaking of Twilight, you may be surprised K. Stew made the list considering her acting in that flick was… not great. Honestly, though, she’s proven herself to be a pretty solid actor in basically every other film she’s been in! She took a short break from the limelight after that whole Robert Pattinson cheating scandal, but when she returned we all remembered that she actually is a great actress that has done consistently good movies since she was a child. Nowadays, it seems she prefers to do much smaller movies that aren’t as popular with the tween crowd. We can’t blame her!
4. Blake Lively – Born 1987
Blake Lively is the super likable girl we all wish we could hang out with. She comes from an entertainment family so it’s no surprise she’s a pretty great actress herself. She grew up watching her parents teach acting classes and we’re all forever grateful because Gossip Girl and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants wouldn’t have been the same without her.
She has since starred in the fantasy drama The Age of Adaline and is currently filming a movie with Anna Kendrick. Blake Lively has worked steadily since marrying Ryan Reynolds and becoming a mom. And we hope that she continues acting.
5. Emma Roberts – Born 1991
Speaking of showbiz families, when you’re aunt is Julia Roberts, you should just give acting a try. Emma grew up visiting her Aunt Julia on movie sets and maybe the Oscar-winning gene carried along. This Hollywood royalty got her start on the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous… remember that one?
She’s been on a few seasons of American Horror Story and also starred on the recently-canceled Scream Queens. She’s received praise from critics for her performances and continues to secure acting roles.
6. Hailee Steinfeld – Born 1996
Hailee Steinfeld has already proven she’s a great actress. She was nominated for a Supporting Actress Academy Award at the age of 13 for her part in the Western drama True Grit. In addition to acting, Steinfeld is also a chart-topping singer. She joined the Pitch Perfect movies to showcase how versatile she can be. Recently, she earned praise for her portrayal of an awkward teenage in The Edge of Seventeen — whichh, let’s face it, we’ve all been there but that doesn’t make the performance any less impressive. In fact, it earned her a Golden Globe nomination. She’s young and we have no doubt she’ll continue to win acting awards.
7. Elle Fanning – Born 1998
Elle Fanning was born in 1998 making her the youngest of what is considered millennials and only 19 years old. She started acting when she was very little playing younger versions of her older sister, Dakota Fanning’s characters in films. She’s been acting steadily ever since, even as her sister has pulled back with her acting. Elle’s been transitioning to more adult roles and has appeared in critically acclaimed films such as Super 8 and The Beguiled.
8. Margot Robbie – Born 1990
Aussie-born Margot Robbie has come on strong in Hollywood. Her first big role was as Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in The Wolf of Wall Street and she’s absolutely blown up ever since. Later, she found mainstream success when she was cast as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad which was TBH the best part of that movie and inspired countless Halloween costumes that year and ever since. She plays wide range of characters and isn’t afraid to portray diverse and complex characters.
She’ll next star as Tonya Harding in I, Tonya which tells the story of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan — one that many believed Tonya was behind. The movie has already received positive buzz in early releases, especially for Robbie’s performance. She’s definitely a force to be reckoned with in the acting world.
9. Zoe Kravitz – Born 1988
Zoe Kravitz was made to be famous. She’s the daughter of actress Lisa Bonet and rocker Lenny Kravitz, which means she basically had no choice but to be in the entertainment business. Her first role was in the rom-com No Reservation and from there she was cast in the Divergent series. Most recently she starred in the female driven comedy Rough Night and the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies. She’s also a talented musician like her dad making her a double threat.
10. Elizabeth Olsen – Born 1989
Obviously, she did some small acting in all of those awesome movies her sisters did when they were little but her breakout role was in Avengers: Age of Ultron where she portrays Scarlet Witch. She’s reprised the role for a few more Marvel movies. She’s certainly killing it in the acting world and did it (mostly) on her own.
11. Saoirse Ronan – Born 1994
It’s taken a while, but we’ve forgiven Saoirse Ronan for her young character’s actions in Atonement. Even though we personally weren’t big fans, Ronan was nominated for a Best Supprting Actress Oscar for the part. She was then featured in The Lovely Bones and The Grand Budapest Hotel. She received her second Oscar nomination for portraying an Irish immigrant in New York City in Brooklyn.
Receiving two Oscar nominations before age 22 is a total Meryl thing to do, so we think it’s safe to say she’s well on her way to joining Streep on the throne.
12. Emilia Clarke – Born 1986
Emilia Clarke has portrayed one of the most popular characters on the extremely popular series Game of Thrones. Clarke’s portrayal of Daenerys alone proves that she is a great actress but we also saw another side of her in the romantic film Me Before You. Proving she’s a versatile force in the acting world, she’ll be in the Star Wars movie Solo, which tells Han Solo’s backstory. No word on Emilia’s part (yet) but she is the female lead which will be a huge role for her.
13. Alicia Vikander – Born 1988
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander had a big year in 2015 when she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Danish Girl. She also received critical praise for her portrayal of a robot in Ex-Machina. Since then, she’s had relevant roles in movies like Jason Bourne with Matt Damon and The Light Between Oceans. This is just the beginning for Alica Vikander.
14. Mia Wasikowska – Born 1989
You definitely know Mia Wasikowska. She portrayed Alice in Tim Burton’s super trippy Alice in Wonderland and reprised the role in the 2015 sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. She seems to prefer smaller movies that still receive positive critical acclaim such as Crimson Peak and Maps to the Stars… which, BTW, both deserve a watch even if you haven’t heard of them. She’s definitely a talented lady.
15. Emily Blunt – Born 1983
Emily Blunt has incredible range in her acting skills. She first rose to prominence (and was hilarious) in The Devil Wears Prada, with Meryl Streep herself, and showed off her action skills in Edge of Tomorrow. She’s starred in rom-coms, dramas, action films, comedies, and has done voice work in animated movies. Next up, she hopefully will not disappoint us as Mary Poppin in the new Disney remake Mary Poppins Returns.
16. Gal Gadot – Born 1985
After the massive success of this summer’s Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, born in 1985, became a household name and broke records starring in the most successful female superhero movie ever. The Israeli beauty got her start in the The Fast and the Furious franchise and won the role of Wonder Woman over some much bigger Hollywood names. She next made an appearance in the Justice League movie, which is probably the only reason we’ll see it, TBH. We’re interested to see where her career where go in the near future cause it certainly seems like it’s just the beginning.
17. Gina Rodriguez – Born 1984
Gina Rodriguez had been acting for awhile and was feeling discouraged in Hollywood always being offered roles as maids due to her Hispanic heritage. When Jane the Virgin came along, she jumped on it and has never looked back. Her career has taken off since and her fun personality shines through in all she does. While she’s currently a TV star, her acting chops have been proven on the CW show and she’ll be starring in Annihilation with Natalie Portman, which will be released early next year.
18. Emma Stone – Born 1988
Ever since Superbad and Easy A, Emma Stone has been on our radar. She moved on from silly comedies and received her first Oscar nomination for Birdman. Then she won an Oscar for that little movie called La La Land… have you heard of it? DUH — of course you have.
Two Oscar noms and a win in just two years… if she keeps it up, she’ll be breaking Meryl Streep’s record in no time. It’s safe to say that Emma Stone is an A-list actress with staying power.
19. Brie Larson – Born 1989
Brie Larson has had many supporting roles in some of your favorite teen movies including Sleepover, 13 Going On 30 and Hoot. She has since transitioned to a successful actress having already won a Best Actress Oscar for the emotional drama Room. She also starred in the summer blockbuster Kong: Skull Island and will next star in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film starring as Captain Marvel.
We don’t know much about the character but Larson has definitely proven her acting skills and will rock the role. And a cool fact about Brie is that she chose her stage name, “Larson” from her favorite American Girl doll Kirsten (aka the Swedish one with braids). Keep an eye out for this one!
20. Jennifer Lawrence – Born 1990
How could Jennifer Lawrence not be on the list of the best millennial actresses? Born in 1990, her career hasn’t slowed down since she got her first Oscar nomination for Winter’s Bone in 2011. She then won the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook in 2013, making her the second-youngest winner of all time. She was nominated again for American Hustle in 2014 and Joy in 2016.
Other accolades include Golden Globe wins for both Silver Linings Playbook, Joy, and American Hustle. Along the way, she starred in the small film franchises for The Hunger Games and X-Men: First Class, a continuation of the X-Men. Yeah, she’s definitely on her way to becoming our generation’s Meryl.