Summer is synonymous with Blockbuster films, but with streaming platforms increasingly offering new premium content, the buzz around movie premieres this season isn’t quite the same as it used to be. But that doesn’t mean film enthusiasts and audiences just looking for something to do on a Friday night aren’t excited to cue up the latest flick on their smart TV or possibly even head back to theaters as vaccination rates go up and fears over COVID-19 slowly subside.
However — and wherever — you choose to watch this season’s biggest movies, these leading men promise to make them worth every second. Building on our Summer Screen Kings feature in our July/August issue of ESSENCE currently on newsstands, we present a list of the Black men who’ll be stealing scenes in movies across platforms this season.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II already has a hefty number of strong roles under his belt, but this summer he appears in his first leading role in a feature film with Candyman. “I got here by staying curious, by staying humble, and also knowing that there’s so much more that I want to do,” he tells us in the July/August issue of ESSENCE
Cheadle has been a force on movie and TV screens for decades. “My first professional job was 35 years ago, and now it’s about only doing things that excite me,” the actor tells ESSENCE. You can catch him in the live-action/animated sports comedy Space Jam: A New Legacy on July 16.
There’s very little Marlon Wayans hasn’t done over the course of his three decades as an entertainer, but on the heels of his latest role he tells us, “I’m at the point in my career where I want to do great work with great people on great projects.” Wayans will star in the Aretha Franklin biopic RESPECT in theaters August 13.
“Playing Lupin is like an English actor playing James Bond,” Omar Sy tells us. Season 2 of the French spy drama is currently streaming on Netflix.
Mekai Curtis has been acting since adolescence but this summer he will star in his first lead role in Power Book III: Raising Kanan. “I want to be like the Denzels and the Will Smiths, these heavy hitters who bring you deep into the screen with everything they do,” Curtis tells us. “That’s the kind of light I want to be in.”
Coming off of a role in Barry Jenkins’ Amazon series Underground Railroad, English actor Aaron Pierre is slated to star in the horror film OLD in theaters July 23. “When it comes to projects that I’m a part of, whether it’s theater, film or television,
my decision is based on whether it speaks to me and resonates with me,” Pierre tells us. “Am I passionate about it? If the answer’s yes, then it doesn’t matter if it’s in a really small local theater or it’s a huge movie. That’s how I’m guided.”
Catch Elba in as Robert DuBois/Bloodsport in the upcoming DC Comics superhero film The Suicide Squad.
Catch action king Dwayne Johnson in the fantasy adventure film Jungle Cruise on July 30.
Colman Domingo steals every scene in the highly anticipated dark comedy based on Aziah “Zola” King’s viral twitter thread.
Vin Diesel is back on the big screen with Fast & Furious 9 in theaters now.
Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman
Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman, two of the greatest actors to ever do it, currently star in The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard.