Pull out your pom-poms. This week marks the 15th anniversary of cheerleading flick Bring It On. Gabrielle Union portrays Isis, a hard-ass cheerleading captain of the East Compton Clovers. In 2000, when the film was released, Union was 27, 10 years older than a typical high school senior. Here's a look at 12 black actors and actresses who played younger characters well into their 20s and even into their 30s.
Union fit right in with the high school persona on Bring It On, which was released Aug. 25, 2000, when Union was 27. That same year, she had a few scene-stealing lines as a teenager at a Los Angeles high school in Love & Basketball. And just one year earlier, she was in teen romantic comedies She’s All That and 10 Things I Hate About You.
Atkins portrayed Yvette Henderson, the eldest sibling on the WB’s Smart Guy, when she was 25 years old. She also had recurring roles on sitcoms Moesha and Sabrina the Teenage Witch in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Atkins, now 43, is looking as youthful as ever. Earlier this year, she was pretty in pink with her friend Union at the BET Awards.
Lawson deserves an ageless-beauty honor from the Teen Choice Awards. Of course, IMDb is keeping track of her roles, and according to the site, she has played a 17-year-old for nearly two decades. Most recently, Lawson portrayed Maya St. Germain in ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars from 2010 to 2012, beginning when she was 31. She also snagged a recurring role on The Secret Life of an American Teenager in 2009 when she was 30.
True played a teenager who was into witchcraft in thriller film The Craft. When the film was released in 1996, she was 29. Perhaps she learned a spell or two for keeping youthful looks, because she’s turning 49 this year and looks like she just stepped off the set.
Dash was 28 when fan favorite Clueless was released in 1995. And Dash’s fresh face kept her in the running for the role of Dionne in the TV-show reboot that followed, which ended in 1999, when Dash was 32.
Riley first appeared as Mercedes Jones on Glee in 2009 when she was 23. For the next six years, until she was nearly 30, she portrayed the teen in the TV musical drama.
Harris is best-known for his role as drug kingpin Avon Barksdale in The Wire. But in 2000, when he was 30, his young looks landed him a role as high school football player Julius Campbell in Remember the Titans.
Tia and Tamera Mowry
Kids of the ’90s grew up with Tia and Tamera Mowry while watching them on hit sitcom Sister, Sister. So perhaps the Mowry sisters will always seem like your cool, slightly older cousins. In 2000, when the twins were 22, they starred in the Disney Channel’s Seventeen Again as a high school student and her grandmother who has turned into her 17-year-old self.
In 2006 Weaver starred opposite T.I. in the coming-of-age story ATL. One of the running jokes throughout the film is that no one is quite sure how old his character is because he’s on his umpteenth senior year. His character’s age aside, Weaver was 25 when the film was released.
Charles was 23 when TV’s Texas high school football drama Friday Night Lights debuted in 2006. He portrayed headstrong running back Smash Williams at Dillon High School.
The Fresh Prince was fresh-faced at age 22 in 1990, when he started in his role as Vivian Banks’ nephew from Philly on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. For the show’s first three seasons, he played a high school student at Bel-Air Prep.
Erin E. Evans is a writer and editor in Brooklyn, N.Y. Follow her on Twitter.