Who to Watch: Dominique Fishback, Star of ‘Swarm’ and ‘Transformers’

The actress is having a breakout year thanks to her ferocious performance in 'Swarm' and her role in the blockbuster 'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.'

Dominique Fishback at the IMDb Portrait Studio at SXSW 2023 ahead of the premiere of Swarm. Photo by Corey Nickols/Getty Images for IMDb

From her star-making turn in Swarm to her first big-screen blockbuster role in the new Transformers: Rise of the Beast, Dominique Fishback is having quite the year. With a potential Emmy nomination on the horizon and an almost surefire box office hit on her hands, the actress should be on everyone’s radar as one to watch.

Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dominique Fishback in Season 2 of The Deuce. Photograph by Paul Schiraldi / HBO

Dominique Fishback, as seen on prestige TV

The era of Peak TV has helped boost plenty of creatives, including Fishback, who’s built an impressive resume on equally impressive TV shows. The Americans and The Affair both enjoyed a one-episode stint from the actress, but she seems to have been on HBO’s speed dial: Show Me a Hero and Random Acts of Flyness featured her in notable recurring roles and she was a crucial series regular as Darlene on The DeuceMore recently, the actress starred in her own episode of the Amazon (AMZN) Prime anthology series Modern Love, and she got the chance to star opposite Samuel L. Jackson in Apple (AAPL) TV+ six-episode series The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. For the latter, she and her legendary co-star were both nominated for Critics’ Choice Awards.

A BAFTA-nominated performance

In 2021, Fishback’s career got a major boost thanks to her role in Judas and the Black Messiah. The film tells the true story of the fall of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was betrayed by an FBI informant. LaKeith Stanfield stars as the undercover informant, Daniel Kaluuya plays Hampton, and Fishback plays the activist’s girlfriend and fellow Black Panther, Deborah Johnson. For her stirring performance she was nominated for several awards, including the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Embracing genre fare 

Satirical horror and sci-fi are the secrets to Fishback’s success this year, as the actress steps away from the straight dramas in which she’s already done so well. For her role in this week’s big Transformers: Rise of the Beasts premiere, she’s been hailed as “incandescent” and “relatable” in a film filled with monstrous robots, helping to ground the CGI-heavy blockbuster in something a little more human.

And though Transformers is the flashier title, Swarm is the main event. A twisted take on a certain queen bee’s fandom, the seven-episode horror-comedy stars Fishback as a particularly unhinged fan who will go to great lengths to defend her favorite artist. The series itself (created by Janine Nabers and Donald Glover) has received near-universal acclaim, and critics and audiences alike can’t take their eyes off of Fishback’s killer performance. It’s a “spectacular showcase” for the actress, who brings an “off-kilter physicality” to the role that gives her character the same vibe as other infamous cinematic psychos, from Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman to Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. Fishback has been “one of entertainment’s most reliable and overlooked actresses,” but that’s likely to change this year. 

Who to Watch: Dominique Fishback, Star of ‘Swarm’ and ‘Transformers’