Sean Patrick Thomas
A charming and handsome African-American actor who made the most of the late 1990s teen film popularity with his youthful looks and sensitive portrayals, Sean Patrick Thomas acted extensively in regional theater, and landed supporting roles in film and television before earning notice with a featured turn in 1999's "Cruel Intentions," a teen reworking of "Dangerous Liaisons. " The unabashedly over-the-top film became an instant camp classic, and Thomas served as the perfect foil to his outlandish co-stars with a realistic turn as lovestruck cello instructor Ronald Clifford. Poor Ronald was not only faced with the racism that kept him away from his adored Cecile (Selma Blair), but he was also being manipulated by the very people who were supposed to be helping him (Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe). Thomas managed to make his character the most traditionally likable, displaying neither the self-serving machinations of the evil characters nor the equally unattractive sanctimoniousness of the good ones. His impressive performance in the film and the outcry over the overwhelmingly white casts on TV's 1999 fall schedule led to Thomas landing a regular role on the "Cruel Intentions"-based TV series "Manchester Prep." Unfortunately for Thomas and for audiences eager to see how the characters' debauched antics would translate to the small screen, the Fox series was cancelled before the airing of any episodes.