CGA unveils 2022 Rising Stars

L-R (Top): Christopher Bunton, Hattie Hook, James Majoos, Mabel Li, and Maggie (Max) McKenna. Bottom are Michelle Lim Davidson, Sana’a Shaik, Shaka Cook, Steph Tisdell, and Tuuli Narkle.

The Casting Guild of Australia (CGA) has announced its Rising Stars for 2022, highlighting ten actors with the potential to break out on the world stage.

The list for the 8th year of the initiative comprises Christopher Bunton, Hattie Hook, James Majoos, Mabel Li, Maggie (Max) McKenna, Michelle Lim Davidson, Sana’a Shaik, Shaka Cook, Steph Tisdell, and Tuuli Narkle.

They follow in the footsteps of previous recipients Milly Alcock, Eliza Scanlan, Katherine Langford, Thomas Weatherall, Zoe Terakes, Olivia De-Jonge, and Alexander England.

From November 18, the 2022 Rising Stars will be featured as part of an interview series on CGA’s Instagram, with a new performer posted each day ahead of the official in-person presentation at the CGA Awards ceremony on Friday, December 2 in Melbourne.

CGA president Thea McLeod said the organisation was “so proud” to have watched the progression of this year’s cohort from the casting room to screens and stages.

“Since the guild’s inception, the CGA has seen an abundance of successful rising stars launch their careers in Australia and beyond,” she said.

“The annual Rising Star awards highlight the fantastic calibre of talent we have here in Australia. We send our deepest congratulations to the Rising Stars of 2022 – a very talented bunch.”

The program is supported by Casting Networks and Showcast, with both providing 24-month premium memberships for each of the actors.

The 2022 CGA Rising Stars are as follows:

Christopher Bunton: An actor, gymnast, and dancer who made his feature film debut in Down Under and has since gone on to star in Nude Tuesday, Relic, Lone Wolf and Kairos. In television, Bunton has appeared in Doctor, Doctor, The Other Guy and is set to grace the screen alongside Josh Gad and Isla Fisher in the second season of Stan’s Wolf Like Me. This year, he appeared in the AACTA-nominated digital series, It’s Fine, I’m Fine, which he also co-wrote. He is currently studying film at AFTRS with Bus Stop Films.

Hattie Hook: Hook has a role in Stan’s upcoming Ten Pound Poms and appeared in ABC’s Savage River alongside Rising Star alum Katherine Langford. In 2022, she debuted in her first feature, Goran Stolevski’s Of An Age, which opened the 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival. Her onstage credits include Gypsy, Mary Poppins and Annie.

James Majoos: Majoos earned an AACTA nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Drama for their role as ‘Darren’ Netflix’s Heartbreak High. On stage, they have appeared in Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Grand Horizons and Belvoir’s Fangirls, the latter of which was awarded the Best Production of a Mainstage Musical by the Sydney Theatre Awards in 2019. 

Mabel Li: Since graduating from NIDA in 2019, Li has appeared in SBS series, The Tailings, and SBS drama, New Gold Mountain, for which she was nominated for a Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Supporting Actress and won an Asian Academy award for Best Supporting Actress. Onstage, she has been seen in Never Closer (Downstairs Belvoir), Miss Peony (Belvoir), Delilah by the Hour, and D.N.A (Seymour Theatre). Next year she will star in Kindling Pictures’ Safe Home for SBS.

Maggie (Max) McKenna: Since making their professional theatre debut in 2017 as Muriel Heslop in Sydney Theatre Company’s Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical, McKenna has appeared on television in the Foxtel comedy series Open Slather, for which they wrote and performed music parodies, and the ABC drama series The Doctor Blake Mysteries. In 2018, McKenna joined the American touring production of Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen in the role of Zoe Murphy as it toured fifty U.S cities. More recently, they’ve been seen in Sydney Theatre Company’s Melbourne and Sydney seasons of the Alanis Morrissette-inspired musical, Jagged Little Pill, in which they starred as Jo.

Michelle Lim Davidson: A graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts with experience in theatre, TV and film, Davidson has had roles in Nine Network’s After the Verdict and ABC’s The Newsreader, for which she received an AACTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama. She is also a regular presenter on Play School and ABC KIDS Listen’s Story Salad

Sana’a Shaik: Born in South Africa, Shaik moved to Perth a when she was 16. She cultivated her passion and ambition for the arts while at Curtin University, where she majored in Economics with a minor in Performing Arts. After studying the Meissner technique and working closely with various Sydney-based acting coaches, she has gone on to star in Stan’s Jack Irish, US mini-series Reckoning, and as Xanthe in the sci-fi climate change feature 2067. Shaik also has roles on feature film It Only Takes a Night, Amazon Prime’s original Australian series Class of ’07 and ABC anthology series, Summer Love.

Shaka Cook: A proud Innawonga and Yindjibarndi man from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, Cook has performed across Australia in theatrical productions for numerous main stage theatre companies, including a tour of The Secret River to the Edinburgh Festival and the National Theatre in London with the Sydney Theatre Company. On television, he has appeared in Cleverman, The Leftovers, Black Comedy, and Operation Buffalo, while his film work includes Top End Wedding and The Flood. Cook also starred as James Madison/Hercules Mulligan in the Australian production of international theatrical sensation Hamilton. He will next appear in feature film Kid Snow, due for release in 2023.

Steph Tisdell: It was in 2014 that Tisdell won the Deadly Funny National Grand Final, going on to sell out award-winning shows around the country. Seven years later, she made her acting debut in ABC’s Total Control and will soon appear in the Amazon Prime series Class of ‘07.

Tuuli Narkle: Born and raised in rural Western Australia, Narkle’s first major acting role came as ‘Ruby’ in the Jane Harrison play Stolen, which was directed and produced by Leah Purcell. Graduating from NIDA in 2018, Narkle has since appeared in multiple productions for stage and screen, including returning to the Sydney Theatre Company for their production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall this year and making her Melbourne Theatre Company debut playing the role of Roxanne in a modern adaption of Cyrano. She starred in the comedy series All My Friends Are Racist for ABC iView and in the Corrie Chen-directed drama series Bad Behaviour for Matchbox Pictures. This year, she joined the cast of season 3 of ABC’s Mystery Road and received an AACTA Award nomination for Best Lead Actress in Drama.