Breakout Actors From Ensemble Casts Who’ve Managed To Stay Relevant On Their Own
You know the saying that there can only be one star of the show. Well, when it comes to these ensemble casts it seems there can only be one star who survives the show as well. When you’re a part of a TV cast with four or more other actors, odds aren’t high that everyone will go on to flourish as a successful solo star. And for most of the shows in this list, there’s been only one breakout actor or actress whose managed to command roles and media attention since their series was cancelled.
Check out who’s still winning.
Mario Lopez: Saved By the Bell
Mario Lopez is undeniably the most popular actor from Saved By the Bell today. And who would’ve expected that? Mark Paul Gossler and Tiffani Amber Thiessen would’ve been most people’s guesses for stars who could go on to have successful solo careers, and though they’ve each had a number of roles in prime time dramas and lifetime movies, Mario is the only one who’s a mainstream success today as a host for Extra and X Factor.
Jada Pinkett-Smith: A Different World
Jada wasn’t even the main star of A Different World, but she is the only one who’s still making headlines today. Though most of that media attention has to do with her husband and their two starlet children, Jada is the only one of her crew to successfully make the switch from sitcom to big screen, with a number of major movie parts under her belt.
Queen Latifah: Living Single
Queen Latifah came into Living Single as the most well-known name, aside from Kim Fields, so it makes sense that she’s the only one still making big waves in the industry. Dana Owens has gone on to do movies, Broadway, a jazz album, a talk show, produce television shows, and snag a Cover Girl contract. Not once has the Queen’s star power dimmed in the 15 years since Living Single went off the air.
Jennifer Aniston: Friends
It’s gotta be the hair, right? Jennifer Aniston was the favorite on Friends as Rachel, and she’s remained Hollywood’s favorite girl ever since the 90s. Hardly a year has gone by without a romantic comedy starring the 44-year-old, and though her marriage to Brad Pitt has had a lot to do with our lingering interest in her love life, Jen has proven her star quality remains whatever role she’s in.
John Stamos: Full House
We all would’ve expected Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen to be the breakout stars from Full House, and they were for a while, going on to do several successful movies and build an entire twin franchise. But after shying away from the spotlight, uncle Jesse, a.k.a. John Stamos, is the face we regularly see on the tube. The actor has had parts in a number of TV movies and dramas, the latest of which is USA’s Necessary Roughness, and he’s still picking up endorsements as the handsome face of Oikos Greek Yogurt.
Tracee Ellis Ross: Girlfriends
To be frank, no one has seen Persia White, Jill Marie Jones, or Golden Brooks since Girlfriends came to an end. Tracee Ellis Ross, however, has been everywhere. From parts in movies like Daddy’s Little Girls to her own sitcom, Reed Between the Lines, Tracee’s fanbase has been heavily supportive of her evolving career, if for no other reason than to see her fabulous wardrobe and hair.
Will Smith: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
He was the star of the show, so it only makes sense that Will Smith, a.k.a. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is the guy we’re still talking about today. But who knew the goofy jokester from the ’90s sitcom had such versatility as an actor? Will has gone on to do blockbuster after blockbuster, from action to serious dramas, and though Tatyana Ali is starting to make her way back into the spotlight. Will is indisputably the most notable character in Hollywood. (Shout out to Karryn Parsons [Hillary], our Mommy-in-Chief host.)
Jennifer Lopez: In Living Color
Yeah, the Wayans brothers are still kinda doing their thing, but no one from In Living Color has stayed as consistently relevant as Jennifer Lopez — not even Jim Carrey, although that may be by choice. Who would’ve thought a fly girl backup dancer would be the most relevant girl from this insanely talented group of comedic performers? But whether we’re talking about her backside or her boyfriend, we’re always up in J. Lo’s business.
Jamie Foxx: In Loving Color
Oops, almost forgot about Jamie! If we’re talking about true cast members form In Living Color who we still line up at the box office for, Jamie would be it. From having his own sitcom to dropping two R&B albums, to becoming an Academy Award winning actor, Jamie’s versatility has kept him steadily employed since the 90s and we always want to know what he’s going to do next.
Ashton Kutcher: That 70’s Show
Wilmer Valderrama has been seen here and there over the years, and Mila Kunis is slowly establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with after her knockout performance in Black Swan, but it’s a no-brainer that Ashton Kutcher has capitalized on his 70’s show fame the most. From endorsements galore to his own TV show, Punk’d, to a Twitter presence that kept everyone glued to his timeline for a bit, we’re still checking for this 35-year-old even when he isn’t doing anything but running around on Demi Moore.
Eva Longoria: Desperate Housewives
Eva Longoria might be bite-size, but her name means big bucks in Hollywood. As the most talked about star of ABC’s Desperate Housewives, Eva has established herself as more than just an attractive face, but an intelligent, politically active citizen. She was heavily active on the Obama campaign in 2008, is currently a spokesperson for Lay’s potato chips, and an executive producer of the upcoming Lifetime series Devious Maids.
Phylicia Rashad: The Cosby Show
We still talk about Cliff Huxtable affectionately, but no one from The Cosby show gets more love today than Phylicia Rashaad. Claire Huxtable has become the embodiment of the perfect wife and mother, which is why the black community still has a love affair with Miss Rashad. And she’s earned that affection having gone on to snag Tony Awards on Broadway and make a return to the big and small screen with parts in Just Wright, For Colored Girls, and the all-black remake of Steel Magnolias.
Tia Mowry: The Game
Tia Mowry was clearly the star of The Game, but when she left the show, she didn’t leave any of that star power behind. These days Tia is linked with everything from PETA to a Nickelodeon show to a burgeoning mommy empire, complete with her own book, Oh Baby! Tia is the only person on the show whose had such visibility in other arenas and things are still going well for her even without the series.