american people The Best African American Actors in Film  

Ranker Film
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List Rules Only male actors.

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 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? From Oscar winners like Denzel Washington, classic actors like Sidney Poitier, and other names such as Terrence Howard, 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 the world of film as well. 

The 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. 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
479 79
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Morgan Freeman Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

2
573 107
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Denzel Washington Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

3
395 88
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
308 90
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

5
282 76
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Forest Whitaker The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

6
353 111
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

7
216 77
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

8
250 63
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

9
246 81
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

10
214 65
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Don Cheadle Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

11
176 68
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

12
227 77
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
196 70
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

14
166 57
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

The Best Living American Actors

15
161 63
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

16
171 67
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

17
160 65
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

18
124 54
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

19
81 12
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

20
140 82
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
113 60
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Kevin Hart The 40-Year-Old Virgin, This Is the End, Scary Movie 3

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22
74 12
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

23
110 57
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

24
115 56
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
90 45
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

26
84 49
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

27
91 46
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

28
120 56
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

The Best Songs About Angelas

29
74 44
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

30
83 54
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

31
86 53
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith David The Princess and the Frog, The Thing, Pitch Black

32
76 46
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

33
97 58
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

34
76 47
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
John Amos Coming to America, Roots, Lock Up

35
73 45
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

The Best Portland Trail Blazers Point Guards of All Time

36
77 49
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

37
55 45
Mike Epps is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Mike Epps The Hangover, The Hangover Part III, Hancock

38
59 45
Mos Def is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Mos Def Be Kind Rewind, Something the Lord Made, The Italian Job

39
69 46
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

40
66 44
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

41
33 27
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

42
55 39
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

The Greatest Black Characters in Film History

43
57 41
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Larenz Tate The Hot Spot, Menace II Society, Love Jones

44
46 45
Michael K. Williams is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael K. Williams 12 Years a Slave, Robocop, Snitch

45
55 43
Courtney B. Vance is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Courtney B. Vance The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher's Wife, The Divide

46
60 48
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

47
9 1
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Donald Glover The Muppets, Mystery Team, The To Do List

48
8 1
Daniel Kaluuya is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Daniel Kaluuya Johnny English Reborn, Welcome to the Punch, Chatroom

49
38 55
T.I. is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added T.I. American Gangster, Identity Thief, Ant-Man

50
16 10
Lakeith Stanfield is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Lakeith Stanfield Selma, Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton