Teyonah Parris is a name that recently made waves in Hollywood for her captivating performance and magnetic presence on screen. From her breakthrough performance in the highly praised drama Dear White People to her riveting portrayal in the popular series Mad Men, Parris has demonstrated her range and capacity to bring intricate characters to life.
She also makes her MCU debut in 2021 as Monica Rambeau in WandaVision, opening the door for future parts with greater prominence. Most recently, fans can recognize her from the Netflix mystery comedy They Cloned Tyrone, where she portrayed Yo-Yo, a skillful and clever sex worker. Now is the perfect time for fans to see previous performances by Paris that have helped her become well-known.
10 ‘The Photograph’ (2020)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
The Photograph primarily focuses on Mae Morton (Issa Rae), a curator at a museum in New York City. Following the death of her estranged mother, Mae discovers a photograph taken by her mother, Christina Eames (Chanté Adams). The photograph reveals a hidden love affair and unlocks the mystery of her mother’s past.
Parris portrayed Rachel Miller, the best friend of Mae Morton. As Rachel, Parris demonstrates her versatility and aptitude by bringing warmth and charisma to the screen. Rachel also provides a grounding presence and serves as a confidante for Mae throughout the film. Moreover, Parris’ chemistry with Rae adds depth and amusement to their on-screen friendship, making Rachel a memorable character.
9 ‘Charm City Kings’ (2020)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
Set in Baltimore, Maryland, Charm City Kings explores a young teenager named Mouse’s Jahi (Di’Allo Winston) journey as he navigates the challenges of growing up in a neighborhood plagued by poverty, violence, and limited opportunities. Mouse idolizes the local dirt bike riders, known as “The Midnight Clique,” and dreams of joining their ranks.
Parris played Mouse’s single mother, grieving his older brother’s loss. Terri is a powerful and supportive figure in Mouse’s life who does her best to offer advice and support despite the difficult circumstances of their Baltimore area. Consequently, Parris also gave a terrific performance, bringing her entire being to the screen and excelling as a distraught mother.
8 ‘Chi-Raq’ (2015)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Chi-Raq is a contemporary adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes that is set in the crime-ridden neighborhood of Englewood in Chicago and focuses on the fictional gang violence between rival groups: the Spartans, led by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes), and the Trojans, led by Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon).
Parris played the lead role of Lysistrata, a strong and determined woman who takes a stand against the violence in her community. In her performance, Parris successfully captured Lysistrata’s unrelenting commitment to establishing peace in her society, making it one of her most notable and well-regarded roles.
7 ‘Candyman’ (2021)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Candyman is a supernatural horror film and a direct sequel to the original 1992 film of the same name set in present-day Chicago and follows visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) as he explores the legend of Candyman for inspiration in his artwork. As he delves deeper into the myth, he unravels the dark history of Cabrini-Green, a neighborhood plagued by poverty and racial tensions.
Parris portrayed Brianna “Bri” Cartwright, Anthony’s girlfriend and an art gallery director in the film. Parris gives Brianna dimension and honesty, expressing her character’s affection for Anthony and having a distinct voice and her own goals. Her emotional range is extremely broad as the horrors get worse, as well as the subtleties of Brianna’s connection with Anthony.
6 ‘WandaVision’ (2021)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
WandaVision is a television miniseries that follows Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as they navigate an idyllic suburban life in Westview. However, there is a mysterious and surreal quality to their reality, as it becomes evident that not everything is as it seems. Each episode pays homage to different sitcom eras, beginning with the 1950s and progressing through the decades.
Parris portrays Monica Rambeau, a vibrant and determined S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division) agent who becomes entangled in the mysterious events taking place in Westview. It is a really excellent debut for Parris in the MCU as she brilliantly portrays Monica’s emotional journey and captures the character’s tenacity and resolve to learn the truth and help Wanda.
5 ‘Dear White People’ (2014)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Dear White People revolves around a group of Black students, including; Samantha White (Tessa Thompson), a biracial film student and radio host; Lionel Higgins (Tyler James Williams), a socially awkward journalist; Coco Conners (Parris), an ambitious student aspiring to popularity; and Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell), the son of the university’s dean, as they navigate the challenges of racial stereotypes, cultural appropriation, and systemic racism.
Parris demonstrated range and complexity in her depiction of Coco, adding nuance to the character’s journey and putting herself on the map. Through her portrayal, Parris also contributes to the movie’s discussion of racial identity and the challenges of living in largely white environments.
4 ‘Mad Men’ (2007-2015)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Set primarily in the 1960s, Mad Men follows Don Draper (Jon Hamm), a creative director at an advertising agency in New York City. The show also explored the advertising industry and the people working in it in-depth.
Parris joined the cast of Mad Men in its fifth season and played the character Dawn Chambers, an African-American secretary at the advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Parris’ portrayal of her character, which captured the challenges of being a Black woman in a predominately white, male-dominated industry, received recognition for its depth and nuance.
3 ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (2018)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Based on James Baldwin‘s novel of the same name, If Beale Street Could Talk explores the challenges faced by the couple, Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James), when Fonny is wrongfully accused of rape and imprisoned. As Tish discovers she is pregnant with Fonny’s child, she and her family work tirelessly to prove his innocence and reunite their family.
In the film, Parris played Ernestine Rivers, Tish’s older sister. Even though Parris doesn’t have much screen time in this movie, her character’s protectiveness is perfect every time she appears, proving that Parris did a terrific job playing the part.
2 ‘Survivor’s Remorse’ (2014-2017)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Survivor’s Remorsefollows a young basketball player named Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) after he signs a multi-million dollar contract to play professional basketball. As a result of his success, Cam’s life changes dramatically, and he must learn to navigate the pressures and temptations of his newfound wealth.
Parris portrayed Missy Vaughn, the wife of Cam’s cousin, Reggie (RonReaco Lee). The show’s critics and viewers unanimously agree that Parris’ portrayal of the character is one of its highlights.
1 ‘A Picture of You’ (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
A Picture of You revolves around two siblings, Jen (Jo Mei) and Kyle (Andrew Pang), who come together to sort through their deceased mother’s belongings in her secluded country home. As they search the house, they stumble upon an intimate and explicit photo of their mother that challenges their perception of her. This discovery leads them on a journey of self-discovery and reflection as they confront their dilemmas and secrets.
Parris portrayed Mika, the siblings’ pal who shows up to help. Even though Parris’ role in this movie is a supporting one, her skills make the character memorable.
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