Meet the Fresh Faces Taking Over Film and Television This Summer

Summer is bliss, and not just because of the warm weather, sandy getaways, and endless backyard BBQs; it welcomes a new wave of great television and films, too. And of course with them comes a new crop of fresh faces begging the question Who’s that girl? We scouted the talent pool to find you the season’s must-watch ladies, from Bravo’s breakout comedienne to this month’s big-screen scream queen, so keep reading to learn more about our favourite summer stars! 

Photo:

Ari Michelson

WHO: Arielle Kebbel WHAT: Ballers (HBO, Sunday, 10PM) 
Arielle Kebbel needs no introduction to CW fans, thanks to recurring roles in hit shows like Vampire Diaries, 90210, and Gilmore Girls, but it’s the actress’s standout performance among a testosterone-filled cast in HBO’s new sports dramedy, Ballers, that has us buzzing about this beauty.

Who What Wear: Tell us about your character on Ballers.  
Arielle Kebbel: Tracy is a sports newscaster in Miami and often has the inside scoop before anyone else. She's good at her job, takes pride in her work, and also happens to be Spencer's [Dwayne Johnson] love interest. Tracy cares about Spencer deeply, even more than she leads on.

WWW: The show is centered on a group of football players. Do you have a favourite NFL team in real life?
AK: Tie between the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers. 

WWW: What’s something about you people might not know?
AK: When I was filming Ballers in Miami, I would often go out to my hotel balcony, turn on music, and salsa-dance… by myself! 

WWW: What has been the most rewarding part of your acting career thus far?
AK: Working for HBO! I was telling a friend recently that when I went on family road trips as a kid, it was a treat if we pulled over at a hotel where the marquee displayed "Free HBO." Now I am shooting Ballers with the network. It's a dream come true.

WWW: How would you describe your personal style?
AK: It depends on the day! I tend to be a chameleon. I like to bring out different parts of myself through my daily fashion choices. I'll be a total hippie/farm gal one day and a chic, Mad Men–esque woman clad in a high-waisted skirt and belt the next. 

WWW: What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
AK: Wildfox tinted aviators and Skinceuticals sunscreen are all I need!

Janessa Leone Panton Hat ($251)
A good Janessa Leone hat is a great way to let go, look stylish, and to not have to worry about what your hair is doing!

Verizon UltimateEars Speaker ($300)
Because I can’t go anywhere without my music!

Photo:

David Needleman

WHO: Abby Elliott WHAT: Odd Mum Out (Bravo, Monday, 10PM)
Making people laugh is second nature for this New York native, who grew up watching her father, actor/comedian/writer Chris Elliott, win over audiences with his oddball characters. After a four-year run on SNL, the 28-year-old is once again flexing her comedic muscles, this time in Bravo’s Odd Mum Out, the network’s hilarious scripted series about the trials and tribulations of being a mother on the Upper East Side. 

Who What Wear: Tell us about your character on Odd Mum Out.
Abby Elliott: I play Brooke Von Weber. The quintessential Upper East Side rich bitch momzilla. She feels the pressure to be the perfect everything. In the first episode, she's eight months pregnant, but she never shows! 

WWW: What was it about this particular show that made you want to be a part of it?
AE: I fell in love with the creator/star, Jill Kargman, who plays the odd mum out. She lives on the Upper East Side and grew up there, so her take on the show feels so fresh and poignant because she's experienced it. It's loosely based on her life as "being at the bottom of the 1%," surrounded by blond, type A mombots and feeling alienated.

WWW: Who has inspired you throughout your comedy career?
AE: My dad, actor/comedian Chris Elliott, has definitely inspired me. I grew up watching him make people laugh for a living, and then he would come home from an L.A. trip and help us with our science fair projects. He showed us (my sister and I) that you can have it all. Also Lucille Ball, cause she was so bold and funny and paved the way for so many women. And she loved her booze.

WWW: What’s your most memorable skit from working on SNL?
AE: I'm most proud of a skit I wrote with writer Rob Klein, called "Meryl Streep on Ice." It was a commercial parody for a new ice-skating show at Madison Square Garden that featured me doing an impression of Meryl Streep, nailing triple axels and quadruple jumps effortlessly in true Meryl fashion. 

WWW: How would you describe your personal style?
AE: I love an effortless, zero f*cks look. I'll never not love polka dots, because they remind me of Lucille Ball. My family has a house in Maine, so during the summer, I'd say I'm L.L.Bean chic with a hint of West Village brunch scene and a smidge of old-school Marilyn Monroe glam.

WWW: What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
AE: Sunglasses. I'm obsessive about wearing the perfect sunnies to match my mood. If I'm on a weeklong trip, I take 10 different pairs with me. 

Thierry Lasry Swingy Sunglasses ($465)
I love these Thierry Lasry sunnies. They're ’60s and fun—reminiscent of Goldie Hawn when she was on Laugh In.

Rag & Bone Ghita Moccasins ($395)
I have been wearing these everywhere. They're so comfortable and easy to throw on.

Photo:

Matt Sayles

WHO: Elizabeth Gillies WHAT: Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (FX, Premieres July 16, 10PM)
As if Elizabeth Gillies’s piercing blue eyes and covet-worthy pout weren’t enough to catch your attention, the actress happens to be a total powerhouse on stage, too. For proof, check out FX’s new series Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, premiering July 16, in which Gillies stars as an aspiring singer hoping to make it big with the help of her washed-up rocker dad, played by Denis Leary. You can also catch Gillies on the big screen later this month in the modern-day reboot of the National Lampoon film series Vacation

Who WHat Wear: Tell us about your character on Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.
Elizabeth Gillies: Gigi is a super-determined aspiring singer who comes from Ohio to New York to find her burnt-out ex–rock star dad, Johnny Rock (Denis Leary), in hopes that he’ll make her famous. At first, she seems completely focused on her career, but it’s clear as the series progresses that she really wants this relationship with her dad to work. There’s a real struggle between adult and child that was fun for me to play with her.

WWW: What’s your favourite original song from the show?
EG: There are so many good ones. I’d have to say my favourite is “Complicated.” It’s in the final episode of the season. It’s a ballad, and it really sums up everything that’s going on with Gigi and the rest of the gang. It’s one of the only songs in the show that we play in its entirety, so it’s highlighted in a special way. It’s emotional and really ends the season on a perfect note. 

WWW: Who would be your dream duet?
EG: Oh god, I don’t know. Probably Steven Tyler—doesn’t get much cooler than that. 

WWW:What do you like to do in your free time?
EG: I listen to a lot of music, take pictures, and shop around. I love going to thrift and vintage stores. I get most of my clothes there. Unless it’s a wardrobe staple, I feel weird about buying something that a million other people already have. 

WWW:How would you describe your personal style?
EG: It’s hard to describe. Overall I’d say I dress for my body, and I try to only wear what looks good on me. I definitely have curves, and I play into that. I don’t take many crazy fashion risks, although I would say I have a rocker/vampire essence to my style most of the time. I also like being comfortable. Having said that, I would suffer through a painfully tight dress and killer pair of heels in a heartbeat if I knew it looked good.

WWW:What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
EG: A great pair of flattering shorts. I hate wearing shorts, but it’s somewhat inevitable in summer. I have a few pairs that I feel good in, and they’ve definitely become a summer staple for me. If I’m not in a shorts mood (aka if I don’t have a spray tan), I also love a great pair of lightweight, ripped jeans. I have a pair of Mother jeans that I’ve pretty much ripped to shreds. Oh, and an awesome pair of sandals with a heel and an ankle strap. They're my favourite. I think a pair of those with some great shorts or cuffed ripped jeans can be very sexy.

 

Photo:

Stephanie Diani

WHO: Cassidy Gifford WHAT: The Gallows (In Theatres July 10th)
Sure, we’re scaredy-cats when it comes to horror flicks, but we do know a good scream queen when we see one, and that’s Cassidy Gifford, daughter of Kathie Lee Gifford. The 21-year-old will have you on the edge of your seat in this month’s haunting thriller The Gallows—that is, if you’re not covering your eyes the entire time.

Who What Wear: Tell us about your character on The Gallows.
Cassidy Gifford: It’s a funny question in some ways, because my name is actually Cassidy in it. It was a creative choice by our directors to keep a certain level of authenticity in the film by bringing out natural reactions. Other than that, though, the Cassidy in The Gallows could not be more different from the Cassidy in real life. In many ways I play the stereotypical popular girl that we all knew and didn’t like in high school—the kind of girl you imagine will reference her high school days as a major highlight for the rest of her life. However, as the film progresses, I had the opportunity to tap into a lot of my own fears and insecurities, which hopefully manifested in both a relatable (and terrifying) way on screen.

WWW: What do you think sets this film apart from other horror films?
CG: It is so easy for most people to write off horror films, and especially nowadays, found footage films as cliché and overdone, but I truly believe that The Gallows is unlike anything ever attempted before. So much of it was moment-to-moment improv that only became more and more real as filming went on. Our directors, Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing, allowed all of us as actors to make a lot of creative decisions ourselves, and what came of it was a genuine realness that isn’t common on most sets. It was completely done outside of the Hollywood norm, it was kept small on purpose, and that allowed the time and the necessary care to be put into making it.

WWW: What horror film scares you most?
CG: What Lies Beneath. I saw it for the first time when I was probably 8 or so, and to this day I’m terrified to open my eyes under water, including the bathtub.

WWW: What’s the best career advice you’ve received from your mum?
CG: “If you are going to do this, you are going to do it well.” My mum actually was the first person to try and steer me away from being an actress. I was always that kid that would beg and beg to take gymnastics, or ballet, or even to pick up any instrument you could think of, only to promptly quit about two classes in. My mum had started out as an actress, and she knew the work ethic and the discipline that was necessary to succeed, so when she saw that it was the one thing I would consistently bring up day in and day out, she said, “I will support you, as long as you are willing to put the work in to be the best you can be at anything. Whether it be a teacher or a vet or a plumber, I would support you as long as you gave each your all.”

WWW: How would you describe your personal style?
CG: Simple is always better in my mind. A lot of people might misconstrue that as boring, but I wear things because I fall in love with them, so I don’t need a million different little pieces thrown into the mix just to be “trendy.” If I absolutely love the dress I’m wearing, I don’t want people looking at my feet, so I won’t sweat the shoes. If my necklace is what I’m excited about, I don’t need giant matching earrings just to tie it together. I don’t think your own personal style should be defined by your ability to make a million pieces work, but rather the confidence you take on, even if you’re just in jeans and a T-shirt and no makeup. That’s what’s beautiful, and that’s what’s stylish in my opinion.

WWW: What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
CG: My 7 for All Mankind roll-up jean shorts. I’m constantly moving, and I could have been pairing them with a T-shirt all day only to throw on a nicer top at night to meet up with friends for dinner. They’re versatile but also pretty neutral, and not to mention so incredibly comfortable. 

H&M Denim Jacket ($30)
I love nothing more than putting on a little flowy sundress in the summer, for any occasion. It’s sometimes hard, though, to find the right thing to wear on top, which is why I’m pretty obsessed with my light-wash jean jacket from H&M. It complements almost any dress I choose.

Free People Tahlia Lace Romper ($98)
I used to be that person that didn’t really understand rompers. I loved wearing shorts and a top, so I didn’t get why all of a sudden it was such a fad to make them into one, until I actually tried one on and was hooked. This Free People romper was so cute and comfortable that I got it in all three colours. It can be dressed up or down, while also being just as cute without doing absolutely anything to it.

Photo:

Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

WHO: Amber Stevens West WHAT: The Carmichael Show (NBC, Premieres August 5, 9:30PM)
Since her days on the ABC Family series Greek, Amber Stevens West has been quite the busy woman, appearing on a number of television favourites, including How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, and Criminal Minds, not to mention her turn as Jonah Hill’s love interest in 22 Jump Street. This August, she returns to the small screen in NBC’s new sitcom The Carmichael Show, as the therapist-in-training girlfriend of comedian Jerrod Carmichael.

Tell us about your character on The Carmichael Show.
I play Jerrod's girlfriend, Maxine. She's a savvy, self-sufficient, and smart chick and in school to be a therapist. We haven't begun filming the season yet, so I don't know much more about her, but I look forward to getting to know her better! I had a dinner with Jerrod and Ari, another writer of the show, so they could get to know the real me better. I suppose there will be a lot of myself in Maxine. So obviously she'll be super, super cool. 

What do you love about working with this particular cast?
What a funny and supportive group of actors! I couldn't ask for a better TV family. Everyone gives each other their moment to be funny, which makes the show so much more fun to watch and be a part of. We are also a very musical group of people, so there's a lot of singing during rehearsals and lunchtime! The piano in the set of the Carmichael's home is definitely getting used! 

Who are some of the females in the industry that inspire you?
Sophia Vergara is definitely a woman I look up to. She's unapologetically sexy and funny at the same time. She is also a woman who can make fun of herself, which I appreciate. Mindy Kaling is another woman I admire. Despite everyone telling her she should always play “the friend,” she gave herself a platform to be the leading woman of a TV comedy. I love that she wouldn't take no for an answer. I can relate to a lot of the obstacles that these women have faced within the industry, and it's inspiring to see them become leading women regardless of their ethnic background. I hope to help pave the road to more diverse programing just as these women have. Ethnic leading women! WORK! 

I couldn’t help but notice you’re a bit of a foodie! What are some of your favourite local spots to eat?
Oh yes! I am undoubtedly a foodie. All my friends know this about me. When looking for a new restaurant to check out, they all call my husband and I for referrals. The best almond croissant on the planet is from Cafe Los Feliz. I love the fish tacos from Ricky's, a local food truck that's always in the same spot on Virgil just south of Sunset Blvd. Korean BBQ is my favourite food. There are dozens of delicious places to find it in L.A., but I'd say my go-to is Hae Jang Chon. It's a fun, all-you-can-eat, and inexpensive place—great to go to with a group of friends. And the best uni pasta I've ever encountered is at EMC Seafood & Raw Bar. And I'll stop there.

How would you describe your personal style?
Basic bitch. No, really. I'm very simple—jeans, a linen tee, boots, and a hat. Every day. And I love it. I'll add some flair with the pop of a berry lip. 

What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
I bought two of the same big fedora, and I haven't gone more than two days without wearing one since I bought them! They're great for bad hair days, great for adding style to a simple outfit, great for keeping the sun off your face, great for hiding from people you just didn't want to run into today, great for an Indiana Jones costume—I could keep going.

Woman by Common Projects Slingback Slide Sandals ($405)
I'm barefoot a lot during the summer, so I prefer a shoe that is quick to slip on. These sandals are modern, slick, and can be worn with anything.

Melissa Joy Manning 14K Gold Topaz Earrings ($350)
I like subtle jewels, and small hook earrings like these are perfect. I bought a pair like these on my trip to Korea, and I just love them.

Photo:

Collin Stark

WHO: Johanna Braddy WHAT: UnREAL (Lifetime, Monday, 10PM)
You’re going to be seeing a lot of Johanna Braddy on your television screens this year, so take note! First up, the 27-year-old finds herself bidding for a British playboy’s heart in Lifetime’s juicy satire on reality dating shows, UnREAL. Come fall, Braddy will trade in her evening gowns for an FBI uniform in the new ABC series Quantico

Who What Wear: Tell us about your character on UnREAL.
Johanna Braddy: I play Anna Martin. She's a no-nonsense lawyer from Georgia—type A control freak. Anna has good intentions and a kind heart but is full of insecurities that drive her to do some things that might be considered questionable. 

WWW: You also have the new ABC series Quantico premiering this fall! What sets this FBI thriller apart from others?
JB: Quantico is definitely not your average FBI series. The show will give an inside look on what it's like going through the process of becoming a federal agent. It also parallels with a terrorist attack that really gets you questioning terrorism on the whole. 

WWW: Which of the characters you’ve played (past or present) is most similar to you in real life?
JB: That's a hard one. I feel like there's a piece of me in almost all of the characters I've played. I really relate to my current character of Shelby Wyatt on Quantico. We are both from Georgia, are experienced with firearms, and tend to be underestimated. 

WWW: How would you describe your personal style?
JB: I don't necessarily think I have one particular style. I love mixing modern pieces with secondhand pieces. So maybe you could say eclectic.

WWW: What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
JB: My summer wardrobe staple is a sleeveless blue jean dress that I purchased secondhand. It's not exactly sexy, but so comfortable for a hot summer day. It’s the type of dress you can hang in the park while wearing, and not worry about it getting dirty. 

 

Zara Wide-Leg Dungarees ($80)
Overalls take me right back to childhood and remind me of some of my best summer memories.

Matt & Nat July Backpack ($150)
I spent some time in the U.K. this summer, and this backpack/purse became one of my best friends. So much lighter than actual leather, it's easy to wear all day.

Photo:

Catherine Powell

WHO: Lyndon Smith WHAT: Public Morals (TNT, Premieres August 25th, 10PM)
If, like us, you’re still mourning the end of Parenthood, you’ll be delighted to know that series regular Lyndon Smith is joining TNT’s summer lineup in Public Morals. The brown-haired, blue-eyed beauty is starring opposite Edward Burns in this ’60s police drama, which is executive-produced by Steven Spielberg and promises thrilling plotlines and plenty of great vintage fashion moments. Count us in!   

Who What Wear: Tell us about your character in Public Morals.
Lyndon Smith: Deirdre is a girl who wears the pants in a man’s world, and I love her guts. An educated, spirited beatnik with a recent degree from Sarah Lawrence, she’s different from the rest of the Hell’s Kitchen gang in the sense that she has dreams to get herself out of the neighbourhood, to move up in the world and become a reporter for the Times. She’s the girl who would storm the steps of Washington, D.C. in protest of Vietnam. But with a criminal brother as her only living family and after falling into a romance with a local cop, she finds herself sucked back into the streets, and it doesn’t seem like she’s getting out anytime soon.

WWW: What can audiences expect from this new series?
LS: Take the gritty world of Hells Kitchen and New York in the ’60s, add an incredible cast led by Ed Burns, get Steven Spielberg as your producer, and soak in all of that gorgeous vintage clothing? I mean, come on. This is television magic that is shot like a film and has the steady continuity of one person’s vision, as Eddie wrote and directed every episode.

WWW: What has been a career-changing moment for you?
LS: I really credit Parenthood for giving me the start of my career. Before that, it was definitely a struggle to get into certain casting rooms. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all smooth sailing, offers, and lollipops now, but things began to get easier. I didn’t realise the incredibly loyal following the show had until I was in that Braverman world, and suddenly those same offices were saying, “We love her on Parenthood; of course we will see her!”

WWW: What’s your social media go-to?
LS: I use Twitter as my morning news site. I follow all the industry news and my favourite fashion outlets, and I just scroll mindlessly with my coffee.

WWW: How would you describe your personal style?
LS: A little schizophrenic. I like having a large closet (I’m kind of a hoarder) because I dress for whatever mood I wake up in. I’m embracing colour and patterns right now, which is somewhat new. I used to be very minimalistic. But I mostly alternate between an edgier, darker palette and flowing bohemian pieces. And then some days I want to wear a tulle skirt and be a total girl.

WWW: What’s your summer wardrobe staple?
LS: Destroyed jean shorts. I wear them with my favourite worn-out T-shirts, structured crops, or sexy, silky, oh-my-gosh-it-could-fall-off-at-any-moment tanks. Basically I wear them every day and they span every style in my closet. 

Kelly Cole Women’s Boyfriend T Shirt ($55)
Kelly Cole has the best vintage tees, but they also make these killer comfortable boyfriend tees. I have one in every colour he’s ever turned out. It’s my go-to effortless top.

Proenza Schouler Fringed Leather Mules ($748)
I’ve been lusting after any and all Proenza Schouler mules, but I especially love these for summer.

WHO: Moran Atias WHAT: Tyrant (FX, Tuesday, 10PM)
Chances are this isn’t the first time you’re seeing Moran Atias. Before appearing in director Paul Haggis’s Third Person and The Next Three Days, the Israeli actress was turning heads in campaigns for Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, and Versace. This summer, you can find Moran reprising her role as the powerful first lady of Abbudin in the highly anticipated second season of FX’s Middle Eastern political drama, Tyrant.

Who What Wear: Tell us about your character in Tyrant.
Moran Atias: I play the character of Leila Al-Fayeed, the first lady of Abbudin, a fictional country in the Middle East. Leila is a strong woman determined to lead her country to thrive but finds devastating challenges with threats from the surrounding countries and within her own family.

WWW: Do you share any qualities with Leila Al-Fayeed?
MA: There are more differences than similarities really. Perhaps the love for family and country we have in common, and an understanding of how complex, tragic, and human the Middle East really is.

WWW: What do you love most about filming the show?
MA: The creative process is truly the most fulfilling part of my work. Research—developing the character through behaviours and collaborating with the writers to do our best in telling a layered story that would make people reflect and feel.

WWW: What’s your favourite place to visit in the world and why?
MA: My favourite places to visit are Italy, Israel, and New York. Do I really need to explain? :-) 

WWW: How would you describe your personal style?
MA: I like simple. Slick style. In my day-to-day life, I NEED to be comfortable. At events and social gatherings, I enjoy dressing up and enjoy a transformation for the red carpet. A modern Dolce Vita style.

WWW: What’s your summer style staple?
MA: Seventies flared jeans are my favourite. I'm over skinny jeans—done. I appreciate breathing.

Dolce & Gabbana Multicolor Printed Silk-Chiffon Dress ($5495)
Love a long flower-print dress for the summer. All you need to add is a lip, and you are ready.

Dolce & Gabbana Embellished Python Sandals ($1314)
I'd love to wear these shoes day and night to add some flavour to a basic look.

What's on your must-watch list this summer? Tell us below!