The Most Anticipated Rising Stars of 2014

Editor’s Note: Fame’s like money, it begets itself. That’s why we’ll set up news alerts around Jennifer Lawrence’s haircuts. But while there’s comfort in common interests — a comfort that will keep us leaping into the media whirlpool of Justin Bieber bookings and Miley Cyrus mishaps — there are countless people creatively toiling away in the shadows, producing extraordinary work worthy of wider appeal.

Signature is turning its focus to six such people, ones who may already have successful careers but whose attention is not necessarily commensurate with the quality of their work. Below are rising stars who are coming into their own (if they haven’t already) and people who we anticipate will be moving and shaking their respective worlds of music, movies and literature in 2014. 

Garth Risk Hallberg

All that we seem to know about Garth Risk Hallberg is filtered through his writing, and perhaps that’s fitting for an author. But when your debut novel fetches for a dizzying $2 million, as Hallberg’s City on Fire did to gasps in 2013, you’d think there’d be more to work from. Sating the public’s sudden curiosity, Vulture ran a piece chronicling Hallberg’s life to date through the bones he’s thrown the online community.

For instance, we know he published a novella back in 2007 called A Field Guide to the North American Familya quiet title with an indie embrace. We know he’s written for The New York Times Book Review and The MillionsWe know he’s a Gen-X man, with a wife and two kids in Brooklyn, and we know he’s able to articulate modern dilemmas — “When I get online there’s this cycle of anxiety and narcissism that takes over, which is the part of me that I like the least” — with piercing accuracy. And now I think it’s safe to say we know he’s going to break big on the lit scene in 2014, no matter when his book actually publishes. With $2 million in the bag and all eyes on Hallberg, he’ll be making waves, just mark his words. -Joe Muscolino

JoJo (Joanna Levesque)

JoJo, née Joanna Levesque, broke into the music scene in 2004 at thirteen years old with powerhouse vocals. Her single “Leave (Get Out)” went to the top of the charts, and made her the youngest solo act to receive the honor in the US. She followed it up with a 2006 album that had the hit single “Too Little Too Late.” It seemed that JoJo was poised to take her place in the pantheon of female pop stars, so why haven’t we heard from her in seven years?

As it turns out, the singer has been embroiled in a legal battle with her former label, Blackground Music, whom she accused of holding her music from the public. As of mid-January, however, JoJo is a free bird, and has announced a new record deal with Atlantic. JoJo’s devoted fans (look them up on Twitter with the hashtag #FreeJoJo) are eagerly awaiting her long-anticipated 3rd album — although leaked tracks, like Demonstrate, Paint, and a cover of Drake’s Marvin’s Room, have been making the rounds for a while. But we think 2014 is the year JoJo’s alt-RB sound and powerful pipes go mainstream, for real this time. Check out some of her other covers: Aaliyah’s Are You That Somebody, Crazy In Love/Crazy. –Naina Sharma


Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o

One of the stars of the incredible cast that made up Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” — the adaptation of Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir — is barely into her thirties, and her resume is already morphing into the stuff legacies are made of. The Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised, Yale-educated actress has worked production on “The Constant Gardener” and “The Namesake,” among other films. She also wrote, produced, and directed “In My Genes,” a documentary about albinos in Kenya.

Her recent turn as Patsey in McQueen’s film was stunning, launching Lupita into the Hollywood spotlight and garnering her an Oscar nom, a Golden Globes nom, and a Critics’ Choice win. Her appearances on the red carpet have left fashion critics drooling in adoration, and she’s been chosen as one of the next faces of Miu Miu. After we watch her first go at the Oscar on March 2, we’ll next watch Lupita in Jaume Collet-Serra’s “Non-Stop” alongside Julianne Moore and Liam Neeson. Watch her acceptance speech at this year’s Critics’ Choice Awards and see why we’re certain that this is going to be a great year for Lupita. –Kristin Fritz

Colin Jost

Colin Jost

On Thursday, Lorne Michaels announced that Saturday Night Live head writer Colin Jost would be succeeding Seth Meyers as co-anchor of Weekend Update. The segment has proven to be an effective star vehicle, most recently catapulting Jimmy Fallon, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler to superstardom. Jost joined SNL at twenty-two, after graduating from Harvard, where he was president of the Harvard Lampoon. He was named head writer in 2012. Jost’s 2014 will be marked by his transition from writers’ room to anchors’ desk, where all eyes are certain to be on him. He has some big shoes to fill. -Rachel Jacobs

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer

In 2010, comedy duo Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer took to YouTube to build their fan base from the ground up. With the exposure that comes from being Upright Citizens Brigadiers, and the confidence that comes with years-long fine-tuning of their deadpan, off-kilter dynamics bandied about on the babbling streets of NYC, their Broad City video series is now edging towards 800,000 views. If you haven’t stumbled upon their videos yet, don’t worry.

UCB co-founder Amy Poehler is lending her name, her skills and her blessing to their new, eponymous Comedy Central series that just debuted this week. With no filters, no boundaries, and no taboos left unturned, the Broad City girls are poised in 2014 to give a new generation the humor it needs to cope with its urban growing pains. -Joe Muscolino

Megan Ellison © Debby Wong

Megan Ellison

Keep a close eye on Megan Ellison this year. The film producer, founder of Annapurna Pictures, and daughter of billionaire Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, made history in early 2014 when she became the fourth person — and first woman — to receive two best picture Academy Award nominations in the same year. Her production company, which finances riskier, auteur works, ushered “American Hustle,” “Her,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Master,” and “Spring Breakers” into theaters in the last two years, and garnered thirty-five Oscar nominations in the past three, including seventeen last week. Ellison has quickly become one of the most in demand producers in the business, and her career has only just begun. -Rachel Jacobs

Who are you most excited to see make waves in 2014? Add your thoughts in the comments below.