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.

1
689 132
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
558 107
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
481 107
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
383 112
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
448 131
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
332 85
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
270 98
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
297 99
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

9
285 80
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

10
253 75
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
205 80
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
233 85
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
254 93
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
189 70
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
178 74
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
200 81
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
188 75
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
130 20
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
123 21
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

20
149 65
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

21
148 74
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
165 93
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

23
142 69
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

24
124 52
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
101 56
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

26
133 67
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

27
96 53
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

28
136 65
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

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29
100 56
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

30
97 67
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
99 63
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
116 64
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
84 58
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
72 57
Mike Epps is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Mike Epps The Hangover, The Hangover Part III, Hancock

35
87 55
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

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36
88 56
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
John Amos Coming to America, Roots, Lock Up

37
30 6
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Donald Glover The Muppets, Mystery Team, The To Do List

38
68 54
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
80 55
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

40
28 8
Daniel Kaluuya is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Daniel Kaluuya Johnny English Reborn, Welcome to the Punch, Chatroom

41
76 53
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

42
72 49
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Larenz Tate The Hot Spot, Menace II Society, Love Jones

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43
75 54
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

44
56 49
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
22 5
Taye Diggs is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
jaelle08 added Taye Diggs Chicago, Equilibrium, Go

46
41 34
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

47
66 49
Courtney B. Vance is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Courtney B. Vance The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher's Wife, The Divide

48
63 47
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

49
70 54
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

50
27 15
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