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
+ - 215 31
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
+ - 151 34
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
+ - 132 43
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
+ - 111 27
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
+ - 109 22
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
+ - 102 31
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
+ - 81 35
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

8
+ - 79 33
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

9
+ - 116 40
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
+ - 122 56
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

11
+ - 100 35
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
+ - 82 37
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
+ - 83 32
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
+ - 72 26
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
+ - 80 26
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

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16
+ - 83 38
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

17
+ - 51 23
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Halle Berry X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2

18
+ - 60 26
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

19
+ - 69 41
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

20
+ - 65 39
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

21
+ - 81 45
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

22
+ - 64 27
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

23
+ - 37 17
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Angela Bassett Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

24
+ - 37 19
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Viola Davis The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

25
+ - 48 35
Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Taraji P. Henson The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers

26
+ - 46 22
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

27
+ - 65 39
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

28
+ - 33 17
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cicely Tyson The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes, Diary of a Mad Black Woman

29
+ - 35 15
Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Alfre Woodard Scrooged, 12 Years a Slave, Star Trek: First Contact

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30
+ - 47 28
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Kerry Washington Django Unchained, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

31
+ - 35 24
Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Queen Latifah Stranger than Fiction, Set It Off, Jungle Fever

32
+ - 54 32
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

33
+ - 46 25
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
+ - 26 12
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Regina King Jerry Maguire, Friday, Boyz n the Hood

35
+ - 47 28
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

36
+ - 49 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
+ - 51 32
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

38
+ - 20 13
Vanessa L. Williams is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Vanessa L. Williams Shaft, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Eraser

39
+ - 33 26
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

40
+ - 38 31
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

41
+ - 27 25
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

42
+ - 42 29
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
+ - 21 14
Diahann Carroll is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Diahann Carroll The Five Heartbeats, Claudine, Eve's Bayou

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44
+ - 29 27
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

45
+ - 44 33
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
+ - 19 13
Della Reese is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Della Reese Harlem Nights, Dinosaur, Beauty Shop

47
+ - 27 23
Sanaa Lathan is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Sanaa Lathan Blade, Alien vs. Predator, Love & Basketball

48
+ - 18 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
+ - 16 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
+ - 21 17
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Regina Hall Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3