2022 CGA Rising Stars Revealed
L-R (Top-Bottom): Christopher Bunton, Hattie Hook, James Majoos, Mabel Li, Maggie (Max) McKenna,
Michelle Lim Davidson, Sana’a Shaik, Shaka Cook, Steph Tisdell, Tuuli Narkle.
Highlighting up to ten extraordinary actors with the potential to break out on the world stage, this year’s CGA Rising Stars include Christopher Bunton (Nude Tuesday, Wolf Like Me Series 2), Hattie Hook (Ten Pound Poms, Savage River), James Majoos (Heartbreak High), Mabel Li (Safe Home, New Gold Mountain), Maggie (Max) McKenna (Jagged Little Pill), Michelle Lim Davidson (After the Verdict, The Newsreader), Sana’a Shaik (Summer Love, Class of ‘07), Shaka Cook (Kid Snow, Hamilton), Steph Tisdell (Total Control, Class of ‘07) and Tuuli Narkle (Bad Behaviour, Mystery Road: Origin).
The annual list has a strong track-record of picking Australian talent who are truly on the cusp of greatness. Previous recipients include Milly Alcock (House of Dragon), Eliza Scanlan (Little Women), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Thomas Weatherall (Heartbreak High), Zoe Terakes (Nine Perfect Strangers) Olivia De-Jonge (Elvis) and Alexander England (Little Monsters).
CGA President Thea McLeod said: “Since the guild’s inception, the CGA has seen an abundance of successful rising stars launch their careers in Australia and beyond. We’re so proud to watch these talented performers skyrocket from the casting room to our screens and stages. 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!”
Actor, gymnast and dancer, Christopher Bunton made his feature film debut in Down Under and since then has 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.
Hattie Hook most recently starred in Stan’s Ten Pound Poms and ABC’s Savage River alongside Rising Star alum Katherine Langford. This year she debuted in her first feature, Goran Stolevski’s Of An Age, which opened the 2022 Melbourne International Film Festival. Onstage Hook’s credits include Gypsy, Mary Poppins and Annie.
James Majoos’ recent role as ‘Darren’ in the worldwide Netflix reboot hit, Heartbreak High, has this year earned them an AACTA nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Drama. On stage Majoos has 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.
This year Mabel Li was nominated for a Silver Logie for Most Outstanding Supporting Actress and won an Asian Academy award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the SBS drama, New Gold Mountain. Since graduating from NIDA in 2019, Li has appeared in the 2021 AACTA award winning SBS series, The Tailings and the AACTA nominated short, Voice Activated. 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 Picture’s Safe Home for SBS.
Maggie (Max) McKenna made their professional theatre debut in 2017 as Muriel Heslop in Sydney Theatre Company’s award-winning stage show, Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical. Their performance garnered them the 2017 Sydney Theatre Award for Best Newcomer. 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. Most recently they’ve been seen in Sydney Theatre Company’s Melbourne and Sydney seasons of the Alanis Morrisette-inspired musical, Jagged Little Pill, in which they starred as Jo.
Michelle Lim Davidson graduated from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2010 and has since worked extensively in theatre, TV & film. Most recently she has been seen on Nine Network’s After the Verdict and prior to that, The Newsreader, for which she received an AACTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama. Filming for the second season of The Newsreader has just wrapped and is set to air in 2023. Davidson is also a regular presenter on Play School and ABC KIDS Listen’s Story Salad.
Born in South Africa, Sana’a Shaik moved to Perth, Western Australia when she was 16. Majoring in Economics with a minor in Performing Arts at Curtin University, her passion and ambition for the arts was cultivated. Studying the Meissner technique and working closely with various renowned 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. Most recently Shaik has been working on the feature film It Only Takes a Night, Amazon Prime’s original Australian series Class of ’07 and ABC’s anthology series, Summer Love.
Shaka Cook is a proud Innawonga and Yindjibarndi man from the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Since graduating from NIDA in 2012, he has performed across Australia in theatrical productions for numerous main stage theatre companies, including an acclaimed 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, and in film, Top End Wedding and a lead role in critically acclaimed The Flood. Most recently Cook 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 is one of the brightest stars to explode on the Australian comedy scene in recent years. In 2014 she won the Deadly Funny National Grand Final and has gone on to sell out award-winning shows around the country. In 2021 Tisdell made her acting debut in ABC’s Total Control and will soon appear in the Amazon Prime series Class of ‘07.
Tuuli Narkle was born and raised in rural Western Australia and is of Aboriginal and Finnish descent. Her first major acting role came as ‘Ruby’ in the play Stolen by Jane Harrison, directed and produced by Leah Purcell. Graduating from NIDA in 2018, Narkle has since appeared in multiple productions for stage and screen. This year, she returned to the Sydney Theatre Company for their production of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and made 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 a stellar cast for Season 3 of ABC TV’s Mystery Road and received an AACTA Award Nomination for Best Lead Actress in Drama.
From November 18, audiences can meet this year’s Rising Stars as part of a 10 day series on CGA’s Instagram, with a new interview posted each day in the lead up to the official in-person presentation at the CGA Awards ceremony on Friday 2 December in Melbourne.
The Rising Stars program is proudly supported by Casting Networks & Showcast, with both providing 24-month premium memberships for each of the actors.