Last season there wasn’t a broadcast drama series with a black lead until Shonda Rhimes’ Scandal launched in the spring with Kerry Washington as the star. That series is coming back next season, joined by several new ones toplined by black actors. It’s a rarity on broadcast television, which has seen only a handful of dramas with black actors as the leads in the past decade. The list of newcomers includes ABC’s Last Resort starring Andre Braugher; Infamous, whose lead is played by Meagan Good; and the CW’s Cult starring Jessica Lucas. Additionally, Fox in keeping in midseason contention its legal drama pilot Guilty toplined by Cuba Gooding Jr. Surprisingly, among comedies, which have been far more welcoming to black actors than dramas with such long-running sitcoms as Cosby and My Wife And Kids, there is only one that features a black actor in a lead role: NBC’s Guys With Kids, where Anthony Anderson plays one of the three leads. (There is a new comedy series with a minority single lead, Fox’s The Mindy Project, created by and starring Indian American Mindy Kaling.)
It is another strong season for non-American actors, who will play the leads in a slew of new drama series. The iconic U.S. comic book character Green Arrow in the CW’s Arrow is being played by Canadian Stephen Amell. Fellow Canadian actress Kristin Kreuk plays the female lead in the CW’s Beauty And The Beast opposite New Zealand-born Jay Ryan. Cult star Lucas is from Canada. Australian Jesse Spencer plays the lead in the NBC drama Chicago Fire, fellow Aussie Radha Mitchell plays the lead in ABC drama Red Widow, and Rachael Taylor, also from Down Under, plays the female lead in the ABC drama 666 Park Street. British actress Janet Montgomery is getting a lot of attention for her potentially breakout role as the lead in the CBS drama Baby Big Shot. Another Brit who is virtually unknown in the U.S., Theo James, plays the lead in another new CBS drama series, Golden Boy, and fellow British actor Jonny Lee Miller plays the lead in CBS’ hot Sherlock Holmes drama Elementary. That means that three of the four new CBS dramas have British leads. Additionally, U.K. actor James Purefoy plays the co-lead opposite Kevin Bacon in Fox’s Kevin Williamson drama. On the comedy side, in her U.S. TV debut, Scottish actress Georgia King plays the female lead in NBC’s comedy pilot The New Normal. Ditto for British actor Ed Weeks, who stars opposite Kaling in her Fox comedy series.
It was also a strong casting season for famous offspring. There are two new series season where the leads are played by the children of A-list actors. Meryl Streeep’s daughter Mamie Gummer is the lead in the CW drama series First Cut and Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson’s daughter Dakota Johnson is the female lead in the Fox comedy series Ben & Kate.
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