Few personal stories evidence the rags-to-riches nature of success in Hollywood better than that of Daisy Ridley. In early 2014, she was an unknown British actress whose experience consisted of a few tiny roles and a lot of rejection. Then she heard about Star Wars. "I emailed my agent that I have this really weird feeling; I really feel like I need to audition," recalls Ridley. Months went by and her agent hadn’t booked her an audition. "But I still really had this feeling of needing to read for it. So I emailed my agent again for an audition. I had four or five auditions over seven months, and it was a very emotional time. My first few really didn’t feel good, but my last audition suddenly felt like something clicked."
What a difference a year makes. On Dec. 18, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is poised to launch Ridley and fellow 23-year-old Brit John Boyega into the galaxy of superstardom. Their stories aren't much different from those of the eight other actors age 35 and under who made THR's annual Next Gen talent list.
Edited by Matthew Belloni, written by Tatiana Siegel, Marc Bernardin, Rebecca Ford, Borys Kit, Pamela McClintock, Daniel Fienberg and Michael O'Connell