In Honor of Black History Month We Bring You Our Top 10 Rising Stars

By Dana Kasser

Being the shortest month of the year, a mere 28 days (29 if you count leap day that comes along once every four years), February may easily be disregarded. However, when taking a closer look, it is the month that pays recognition to love, presidents and the black community. Black History Month is the opportunity to honor and highlight the significant achievements of African Americans, and that is precisely what we at Hollywood Crush intend to do.

So, we’re going to take you through this past year’s top 10 break-out performances. From the Grammys to the Golden Globes to the Oscars even to the Broadway stage — the following rising stars most certainly carved out their spot in the world of entertainment!

Mehcad Brooks

Easy ladies! We all know Mehcad Brooks (pictured above) is super sexy, even Calvin Klein thinks so! The fashion model-turned actor has had quite the year, with his role as Eggs on HBO’s vampire hit “True Blood,” as well as being one of the faces of Calvin Klein Underwear’s new X collection. And for all of you blood-sucking “True Blood” fans that are still crying at the fact Eggs has died, whip those tears away because now you can watch Brooks on ABC’s new hit “The Deep End.”

Katerina Graham

While we are on the topic of vampires, 20 year-old Katerina Graham makes the magic happen on the CW’s “Vampire Dairies” portraying young witch, Bonnie Bennett. In the past Kat has taken on smaller roles, however, this year we find ourselves under her spell. Here’s a little fun fact: she is the original voice in the chorus of “I Got It From My Mama,” a song that belongs to our next break-out performer, Will.I.Am.

Will.I.Am

Now I am sure you are all saying to yourselves Will.I.Am is not a break-out performer, the Black Eyed Peas have been around for years … well by all means you are right, but besides releasing an album which was given a Grammy nod, Will.I.Am also made a mark in the Hollywood orbit last year when he made his big screen acting debut as the powerful teleporter, John Wraith in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

Gabourey Sidibe

Many actors can only dream that their first onscreen appearance is recognized and potentially nominated for awards, but it doesn’t happen often. For Gabourey Sidibe, this dream came to life when she landed the role portraying Claireece “Precious” Jones in the dramatic film “Precious.” Gabourey was up for Best Actress at this year’s Golden Globes and has also found herself on the list of nominees for Best Actress at the Oscars.

Quinton Aaron

When it comes to the heartwarming true story of “The Blind Side” one name seems to stand out: Sandra Bullock. Well, I have another name for you to consider as well: Quinton Aaron. Aaron tackled — and scored big — in his first lead role as footballer Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens in this Oscar nominated Best Picture.

Amber Riley

If you haven’t heard of Amber Riley you’ve definitely heard of Mercedes Jones, the dynamic diva from this year’s Golden Globe winning television series “Glee.” Amber’s character has belted out hits such as “Proud Mary” and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” from “Dream Girls,” which we hope she stands by! “I am not living without her and you…and you…and you…you’re gonna love her.”

Aubrey “Drake” Graham

We originally fell in love with Aubrey Graham as “Degrassi” student Jimmy Brooks but now Aubrey has left his wheelchair behind only to take a stand as rap superstar Drake. For the first time in Grammys history, Drake (who was MTV New’s #8 Man Of The Year for 2009) was the only artist to be nominated for awards (Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song) without having released an album yet.

Keri Hilson

Early in 2009 our next recording artist, Keri Hilson, released her debut solo album, In a Perfect World at number one on the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums. Keri’s most successful single “Knock You Down” (featuring Kanye West and Ne-Yo) won her BET’s Best New Artist award as well as earned her nominations at the AMAs and Grammys. All I have to say about Keri is that in this [world], she sure did [knock us down]!

Corbin Bleu

Some of you may recognize Corbin Bleu as Chad Danforth, BFF to teen heartthrob Zac Efron, in Disney’s ever so popular “High School Musical” franchise. However, Corbin has since turned his attention toward Broadway. He just recently took on the role of Bodega owner Usnavi in the Tony-winning musical, “In The Heights.” Danforth may ignited the basketball court, but now Corbin is lighting up the stage.

Naturi Naughton

The 2009 remake of the 80s classic “Fame” appeared to have disappointed its audience, but if there was one thing we could take away from it, it was “Notorious” star Naturi Naughton’s powerful performance as as Denise Dupree, a talented piano player with a passion for singing. Audiences can next see Naturi in the comedy “Lottery Ticket.”

Click on any of the above photos to be taken to our full flipbook celebration of Black History Month.

Well there you have it! This past year’s breakout performers, how do you think they did? Do you expect them to stick around for years to come? Leave your comments below!