There was a time, believe it or not, that no one had ever heard of Sofia Vergara.
Then the 2009-10 TV season arrived. And suddenly she was everywhere: Selling soft drinks, killing people in “Machete,” standing on an actual pedestal at the Emmys, and of course starring on ABC’s biggest comedy, “Modern Family.”
More of TheWrap’s Fall TV Preview:
Even with viewership down from decades past, TV still has the power to make superstars. And one of the names below could be the next one. Is it Hudson Yang, the child of a Wall Street Journal reporter chosen to star in “Fresh Off the Boat?” The lead character in “Jane the Virgin,” Gina Rodriguez? Alfred Enoch, who plays a law student willing to do almost anything on “How to Get Away With Murder?”
We don’t know. It could be none of them. Or all of them. Here are 11 actors to watch this fall season.
Gina Rodriguez, “Jane the Virgin”
It takes a lead actress of rare charm and presence to get an audience to go along with a storyline as outrageous as this one: After years of holding on to her virginity, Jane is accidentally artificially inseminated. Rodriguez is funny and empathetic in what could be a star-making performance. The role will finally introduce her to audiences who haven’t yet checked her out in 2012 Sundance hit “Filly Brown.”
Also read: 11 TV Shows We’re Excited About This Season
Hudson Yang, “Fresh Off the Boat”
Subverting stereotypes all over the place is ABC’s newest scene-stealer, a hip-hop loving child of Taiwanese immigrants who has to deal with prejudice at a new school and two parents with very different ideas of what the American Dream means.
Suraj Sharma, “Homeland”
After anchoring an Oscar-winning film — “Life of Pi” — all by himself, Suraj Sharma is joining the legions of actors who have turned to TV. He’ll play a medical student who crosses paths with Claire Danes‘ Carrie Mathison as Showtime’s CIA thriller sends her overseas to Pakistan.
Elyes Gabel, “Scorpion”
A veteran of British productions such as “Waterloo Road” and “Casualty,” Gabel made inroads with American TV audiences as Dothraki Rakharo on “Game of Thrones” and in the final season of the ABC medical drama “Body of Proof.” Now he’ll star in CBS’s new drama “Scorpion” as Walter O’Brien, an eccentric genius whose intelligence makes it difficult to relate to human emotions.
Patina Miller, “Madam Secretary”
Soap opera fans might know Miller as Erica Kane’s television producer on “All My Children.” The actress — who’ll appear as Commander Paylor in both “Mockingjay” installments of the “Hunger Games” movie franchise — will play Daisy Grant, press coordinator to Tea Leoni’s Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord.
Robin Lord Taylor, “Gotham”
“Gotham” is very, very, very much not about Batman. The executive producers, the cast, and millions of promos want to drill that into your head. Instead, the Fox comic book drama focuses on James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) battling the seedy criminals of the DC Comics city. One of them, Taylor’s Oswald Copperpot, will grow into The Penguin. But until he does, he is simply an underling to villain Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). Oswald proves the most interesting and conflicted character in the pilot, gnashing his teeth and already keeping his trusty umbrella close.
Griffin Gluck, “Red Band Society”
How does a kid in a coma become the one to watch? Griffin Gluck’s terrific narration proves to be the heartbeat of the Fox pilot. Plus, he has a few non-comatose scenes that are more than enough to have you rooting for his character, Charlie, to wake up. The good news is, it sounds like he will soon. The bad news is that we might lose him as a narrator f0r Season 2. By then we hope to know a lot more about the character known as Coma Boy.
Alfred Enoch, “How to Get Away With Murder”
A face in the crowd on all the “Harry Potter” movies, Enoch finally gets his chance to stand front and center as the audience surrogate, Wes, in this story of law students who will do anything to impress professor Annalise Keating (Viola Davis). He starts out as the dunce of the class, and soon becomes its conscience. To the extent that it has one.
Cristela Alonzo, “Cristela”
The comedian, standup and writer anchors the new comedy about a law student living with her family — and driving them insane. When your name is in the title, the pressure is on, but years of experience onstage seem to have made Alonzo very ready to share her take on the world.
Tyler Ritter, “The McCarthys”
In his first major starring role after a string of one-off TV appearances, the son of John Ritter not only has to live up to his family name, but he also has to tackle portraying a gay character both realistically and comedically.
Jadyn Wong, “Scorpion”
Wong might be familiar to fans of “Caprica” and the Canadian dramedy “Being Erica,” both of which featured the actress in multiple episodes. But her engaging portrayal of mechanical prodigy Happy Quinn, the sole woman among the boy geniuses of “Scorpion,” should lift her out of “Where have I seen her before?” territory.