american people The Best African American Actors in Film  

Ranker Film
Originally by
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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
619 120
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

2
510 94
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
432 98
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
344 99
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
398 122
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

6
301 83
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Forest Whitaker The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

7
238 91
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
268 72
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
268 91
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
233 70
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
193 73
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
214 79
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

13
240 86
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
178 65
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

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15
171 70
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
183 76
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
176 72
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
107 15
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

19
136 62
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

20
153 88
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
129 68
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
95 17
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
129 64
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
102 50
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

25
126 63
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

26
93 54
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

27
129 62
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

28
98 53
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

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29
82 50
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
92 61
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
94 59
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
108 63
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
82 55
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

34
84 52
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
64 52
Mike Epps is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Mike Epps The Hangover, The Hangover Part III, Hancock

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36
83 53
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
78 51
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

38
65 51
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
73 51
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
70 50
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
19 3
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Donald Glover The Muppets, Mystery Team, The To Do List

42
53 47
Michael K. Williams is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael K. Williams 12 Years a Slave, Robocop, Snitch

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43
36 31
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

44
63 47
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Larenz Tate The Hot Spot, Menace II Society, Love Jones

45
20 6
Daniel Kaluuya is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Daniel Kaluuya Johnny English Reborn, Welcome to the Punch, Chatroom

46
59 44
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

47
67 52
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

48
21 8
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Thor: The Dark World, The Bourne Identity, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

49
61 47
Courtney B. Vance is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Courtney B. Vance The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher's Wife, The Divide

50
14 4
Taye Diggs is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
jaelle08 added Taye Diggs Chicago, Equilibrium, Go