Shahadi Wright Joseph has been acting since she landed her first role in 2016 in the TV musical Hairspray Live!
From there, she has been featured in a handful of blockbuster films, where she steals the spotlight from established actors thanks to her unique voice and how she transforms characters with authentic emotions.
Let’s take a look back at Shahadi’s most memorable performances so far.
Zora Wilson/Umbrae in ‘Us’
Us was the first movie where Shahadi effectively displayed her raw talent. The 2019 movie had Shahadi portraying Zora Wilson aka Umbrae who was known for her evil powers and manipulation.
This is a critical-acclaimed movie where Shahadi demonstrated some of her versatility as a great actress. In this movie, she was able to delve into a darker role alongside A-list stars such as Lupita Nyong’o and Elisabeth Moss.
Nala in ‘The Lion King’
Shahadi’s story and exploits in the entertainment world are incomplete without referencing her role as the young Nala in 2019’s The Lion King. The Disney live-action movie saw Shahadi portraying the younger version of Beyoncé characters which is no easy feat. However, her performance captivated audiences globally and at a young age, she masterfully showcased her talent.
“I got kind of starstruck after meeting Beyoncé, but I think I kept it cool,” she told Refinery29 of meeting her Lion King co-star. “She’s just like, ‘You're my Nala, right?’ and I was like ‘Yes!’ Then we hugged. I also met Blue Ivy and Jay Z — it was a dream come true.”
Ruby Lee Emerson in ‘Them’
It appears Shahadi’s ability to handle characters in the horror genre paid off when she was featured in the 2021 Amazon Prime series, Them, which was set in the 1950s during the Second Great Migration. She played the role of a young Ruby, an African-American girl who found it difficult to deal with the horrors of racism mixed with supernatural activity.
Once again, her role in this movie highlights her ability to handle complex, emotional, and yet impactful roles.
What’s Next for Shahadi?
Each of the movies highlighted above explains Shahadi’s growing influence in the entertainment sector. Her performances will continue to showcase her raw talent, and ability to take on any role outside of her comfort zone.
Shahadi’s performances have also contributed to discussions surrounding social issues, and captivating storytelling that continues to engage audiences from different age and cultural backgrounds.
According to Deadline, Shahadi’s next role will be opposite Tiffany Haddish in the musical dance dramedy, Throw It Back. We can’t wait to watch!