Jordan Peele’s upcoming horror film, Us, has an incredible cast. The film, out Mar. 22, features familiar stars Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, and Tim Heidecker. Evan Alex and Shahadi Wright Joseph play the kids in Us, and it's bound to be a big breakout moment for them. In the movie, their family is under attack by evil doppelgängers who invade their home, and it's up to them to find a way to survive. While this is the first feature film role for both of the Us children, you’ll definitely be seeing more of them soon.
Alex, who plays Jason and Pluto (his "Tether") had his start in the web series Kids Reenact, where he’d participate in parodies of tv shows, including Empire and The Voice. The 10-year-old actor also appeared in various short films and has made appearances on TV shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kidding, and Sesame Street. And now that he has his first feature film role, he’s thrilled to have the experience. “The exciting thing about making this movie is being able to do all these different things and doing things with a really good director, so it’s really fun working with him,” he said in a red carpet interview with GreenScreenAnima at the SXSW premiere of Us. He continued praising Peele’s directing, saying, “You can sit with him and he’ll teach you like what to do and how he does it, and it was really nice learning from him.”
His 13-year-old Us co-star Joseph, who plays Zora and Umbrae, filmed an indie flick called Dream Years, which hasn’t come out yet. According to its page on crowdfunding site Fiscal Sponsorship, the movie is comprised of “three short films thematically linked by dreams about love, death, parenthood and marriage.”
This summer, she's following up Us with equally huge role: Voicing Nala in the upcoming Lion King remake, coming out July 19. She'll star alongside A-listers like Beyoncé, Donald Glover, James Earl Jones, and more.
It's a full circle moment, since Joseph actually got her start on Broadway as Young Nala in The Lion King stage musical, performing from 2014 to 2015. And that’s not her only Broadway credit, either. She was part of School of Rock’s original cast, playing Madison, and was the understudy for the role of Tomika. According to her Playbill bio, the young actor began taking dance lesson when she was just two. In 2016, the School of Rock cast was nominated for an Astaire Award (now Chita Rivera Award) for Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show, which goes to show how much having that early passion for dance paid off.
After School of Rock, Joseph appeared in the televised musical Hairspray Live! in 2016 as Little Inez, who auditions for the Corny Collins show but is rejected due to her race. This role allowed Joseph to show off her dancing and voice to an even wider audience.
But, for now, it looks like Joseph wants to focus on working in the film industry instead of being onstage. In an interview with Culturess, the actor explained why she decided to transition to acting onscreen. “I think I wanted a different environment change to get up to the level that I am [at] today doing film,” she said.
Being part of Us is giving these young actors so many incredible opportunities already, and they're loving it. Joseph posted on Instagram earlier this month that she was overjoyed to be part of this year's SXSW, where the cast did press and premiered the film. "Thank you @SXSW!!! The festival is incredible! The city, the attendees, and activities were all electric with energy! I can't wait to come back! ❤ ," she captioned a photo.
She also shared her excitement over the movie receiving the coveted 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "I don't think I've ever been this excited to share a story!," wrote Joseph.
And her costar Alex is equally ecstatic. "Today was a blast. I got a new jacket and met some new people. Press junkets day 2. #UsMovie #pressday," he captioned one post.
Their faces may be new to you when you see Peele's latest, but these two budding stars are just getting started.