6.9k voters

The Best African-American Film Actors

Updated June 8, 2021 48.7k votes 6.9k voters 354.7k views104 items

List RulesVote up the African American male actors, living or passed, with the most consistent top acting performances.

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 top Black actors are the best of the best and many are also among the best living actors today. From those who have portrayed classic Black characters, to award winning actors, only the best African American male actors are on this list. (Click here to vote on the best Black actresses.)

Who are the greatest African American actors in film? Including Oscar winners, like Denzel Washington, classic actors, like Sidney Poitier, and movie stars, like Will Smith, each of the famous Black 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 a movie, or two. 

From young to old, the popular Black male 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. Of course, you'll also find young Black actors who've recently risen to the top, like John David Washington, Chadwick Boseman, LaKeith Stanfield, and Donald Glover. 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 leading Hollywood men.

  • 1

    Morgan Freeman

    Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy

    BirthplaceMemphis, Tennessee, USA

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  • 2

    Denzel Washington

    Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli

    BirthplaceMount Vernon, New York, United States of America

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  • 3

    Samuel L. Jackson

    Pulp Fiction, The Avengers

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

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  • 4

    Laurence Fishburne

    The Matrix, Man of Steel

    BirthplaceAugusta, Georgia, USA

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  • 5

    Forest Whitaker

    The Butler, The Last King of Scotland

    BirthplaceLongview, Texas, USA

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  • 6

    Will Smith

    After Earth, I Am Legend

    BirthplacePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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  • 7

    James Earl Jones

    The Lion King, Return of the Jedi

    BirthplaceArkabutla, Mississippi, USA

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  • 8

    Chadwick Boseman

    42, The Express

    BirthplaceAnderson, South Carolina


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  • 9

    Sidney Poitier

    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night

    BirthplaceMiami, Florida, USA

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  • 10

    Don Cheadle

    Crash, Hotel Rwanda

    BirthplaceKansas City, Missouri, USA

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  • 11

    Eddie Murphy

    Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

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  • 12

    Danny Glover

    Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple

    BirthplaceSan Francisco, California, USA

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  • 13

    Michael B. Jordan

    That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station

    BirthplaceSanta Ana, California, USA

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  • 14

    Jamie Foxx

    Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

    BirthplaceTerrell, Texas

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  • 15

    Michael Clarke Duncan

    Planet of the Apes, Daredevil

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

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  • 16

    Mahershala Ali

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Place Beyond the Pines

    BirthplaceOakland, California, USA


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  • 17

    Cuba Gooding, Jr.

    What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire

    BirthplaceNew York City, USA, New York

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  • 18

    Ving Rhames

    Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead

    BirthplaceNew York, New York, USA

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  • 19

    Wesley Snipes

    Blade, White Men Can't Jump

    BirthplaceUSA, Florida, Orlando

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  • 20

    Terrence Howard

    Iron Man, The Best Man

    BirthplaceChicago, Illinois, USA

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  • 21

    Louis Gossett, Jr.

    An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle

    BirthplaceSheepshead Bay, New York City, New York, USA

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  • 22

    Morris Chestnut

    Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2

    BirthplaceCerritos, California, USA

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  • 23

    Ice Cube

    Friday, 21 Jump Street

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California

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  • 24

    Chris Tucker

    The Fifth Element, Friday

    BirthplaceAtlanta, Georgia, United States of America

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  • 25

    Anthony Mackie

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Million Dollar Baby

    BirthplaceNew Orleans, Louisiana, USA

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