W MAGAZINE – If you want to find the furiously beating heart of culture today, the world of television is the place to begin your search. That’s where cinematic genres continue to be reinvented and reborn, mirroring changes in society: Romantic comedies are set in high schools; supernatural horror takes campy twists; character-driven dramas put previously marginalized groups front and center. And now, plenty of those series’s previously unsung stars are finding themselves front and center in the industry, too. Billy Porter, for example, is no longer just turning heads on Pose, but also on the red carpet; even amidst the hordes of other A-list celebrities, at this year’s Met Gala, Porter—who just became the first-ever openly gay black man nominated for the Emmy’s Lead Actor in a Drama—was impossible to miss.) Aside from Pose, which has made history with scripted TV’s largest cast of transgender actors, representation has been improving elsewhere, too: Between Alison Brie in GLOW, Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll, Connie Britton in Dirty John, and Michelle Williams in Fosse/Vernon, there’s been less need than ever to throw around the phrase “strong female character” when it comes the roles women have to choose from to appear on-screen. From Maude Apatow of Euphoria to Penn Badgely of You, here are 14 stars powering the hits we can’t stop watching.
Maude Apatow, Euphoria
For my sweet 16 party, my parents knew I loved The Book of Mormon so they had Andrew Rannells, who was one of the leads in the show, come and perform. It was literally the best moment of my life.
You were named after the kooky octogenarian in the film Harold and Maude.
Yes. As a joke, my dad started calling me Maude when my mom was pregnant, and it stuck. I do love that movie.
Do you ever sing any of the Cat Stevens songs from that film when you do karaoke?
No. I sing “The Confrontation” from Les Misérables. I love musical theater. The first album I really listened to was Hairspray, and the first thing I auditioned for was Grease. I was Jan, one of the Pink Ladies. I got to sing in a musical, and I had never been happier.
Apatow wears a Dior jacket, top, and pants; Cartier earrings, necklace, and ring.