african american The Best African American Actors in Film  

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From any era and genre, these are the greatest African American actors in film history, ranked by the community to determine who is the best African American actor of all time. These African American actors are the best of the best and many are also among the best living actors today. From those who have portrayed classic African American film characters, to award winning actors, only the best African American actors are on this list. 

Who are the greatest African American actors in film? From Oscar winners like Denzel Washington, classic actors like Sidney Poitier, and other names such as Terrence Howard, each of the African American actors on this list has earned his place with an excellent body of work and memorable performances. Some African American comedians and rappers are also on this list, having found success in the world of film as well. 

The actors that are featured on this list include some of the best actors of all time including, Morgan Freeman, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Ossie Davis, Forest Whitaker, Danny Glover, and Eddie Murphy. Is the African American actor you think is best not on the list? Add him to make a truly comprehensive list to determine the best African American actors in film history.

list ordered by

1
232 34
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Denzel Washington Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

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2
167 37
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Morgan Freeman Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

3
149 47
Samuel L. Jackson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Samuel L. Jackson Pulp Fiction, The Avengers, Django Unchained

4
117 28
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Forest Whitaker The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

5
117 24
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

6
107 32
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

7
88 36
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

8
121 42
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Sidney Poitier Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, Lilies of the Field

9
132 57
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

10
83 36
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

11
105 37
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Don Cheadle Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

12
87 39
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

13
86 33
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

14
74 28
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

15
56 24
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Halle Berry X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2

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16
81 28
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

17
88 45
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

18
73 42
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

19
84 40
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

20
42 19
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Angela Bassett Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

21
68 43
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

22
44 19
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Viola Davis The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

23
60 27
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

24
66 28
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

25
67 40
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

26
39 16
Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Alfre Woodard Scrooged, 12 Years a Slave, Star Trek: First Contact

27
51 36
Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Taraji P. Henson The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers

28
46 23
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

29
35 18
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Cicely Tyson The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes, Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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30
49 28
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Kerry Washington Django Unchained, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

31
39 24
Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FatalFlaw added Queen Latifah Stranger than Fiction, Set It Off, Jungle Fever

32
30 12
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Regina King Jerry Maguire, Friday, Boyz n the Hood

33
48 26
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

34
55 33
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

35
31 25
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

36
51 36
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith David The Princess and the Frog, The Thing, Pitch Black

37
36 26
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

38
48 29
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

39
52 33
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

40
22 14
Vanessa L. Williams is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Vanessa L. Williams Shaft, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Eraser

41
38 32
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

42
42 30
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

43
22 15
Diahann Carroll is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Diahann Carroll The Five Heartbeats, Claudine, Eve's Bayou

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44
30 23
Sanaa Lathan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Sanaa Lathan Blade, Alien vs. Predator, Love & Basketball

45
45 34
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

46
30 28
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

47
20 14
Della Reese is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Della Reese Harlem Nights, Dinosaur, Beauty Shop

48
19 14
Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Zoe Saldana Avatar, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

49
18 13
Vivica A. Fox is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Vivica A. Fox Independence Day, Kill Bill Volume 1, Kill Bill Volume 2

50
24 17
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Regina Hall Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3