Still, even with diversity at issue on the major networks, there are several performers appearing in new and returning shows whom we can’t wait to see. These actors may not be the stars of the shows, but you can definitely expect them to shine as they steal a scene or two.
Taraji P. Henson — Person of Interest (CBS, Thursdays, 9 p.m.; premieres Sept. 22): The Oscar-nominated actress plays homicide Detective Carter in this highly anticipated thriller from Lost creator J.J. Abrams. Henson’s character is hot on the trail of Reese, a homeless ex-CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) who’s working with a shady billionaire (Lost‘s Michael Emerson) to stop crimes before they happen by using some savvy surveillance technology.
Maya Rudolph — Up All Night (NBC, Wednesdays, 10 p.m., moves to 8 p.m. after debut; premieres Sept. 14): The Saturday Night Live alum lends her considerable comedic talents to a series starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as a couple adjusting to parenthood. Applegate is a TV producer returning to work, and Rudolph plays her boss, an inspirational daytime talk-show host who’s just as needy as a newborn. Anyone who’s seen Rudolph’s hilarious spoof of Oprah on SNL knows this role is a layup.
Annie Ilonzeh — Charlie’s Angels (ABC, Thursdays, 8 p.m.; premieres Sept. 22): Fans of General Hospital will recognize Ilonzeh, who played Maya Ward. In this reboot of the popular ’70s show, Ilonzeh is Kate Prince, a dirty cop who is blessed with a second chance as a private detective. Early word on the show hasn’t been all positive. Still, we’re willing to watch just to see Isaiah Mustafa (yes, the “Old Spice” guy), who’ll have a recurring role as Kate’s former fiancé.
Michael K. Williams — Community (NBC, Thursdays, 8 p.m., returns Sept. 22) and Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m., returns Sept. 25): No doubt Williams will be channeling a little bit of Omar, his iconic character from The Wire, when he shows up in a three-episode arc as ex-con biology professor Marshall Kane on the hit comedy Community. The show’s producers hope that Williams will be able to do more episodes down the road, but his day job — playing Chalky White on HBO’s Prohibition-era epic Boardwalk Empire — keeps him pretty busy.
Among the other black performers you’ll see on the small screen this fall is veteran actress Jenifer Lewis (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Strong Medicine). She’s in NBC’s The Playboy Club, which premieres Sept. 19 at 10 p.m., and recently shared her thoughts on her role as the bunnies’ seamstress, Pearl, with The Root.
Genetta M. Adams is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based freelance writer and editor. Follow her on Twitter .