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
485 82
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
582 110
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
404 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
316 91
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
361 111
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
285 79
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
223 78
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
253 83
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
253 66
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
182 68
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

11
218 65
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
228 79
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
200 73
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
164 64
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

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15
168 59
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

16
174 69
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
163 67
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
90 12
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
127 57
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
82 12
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

21
141 84
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

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22
115 64
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
115 58
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
118 57
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
93 48
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
87 51
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

27
94 47
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
121 59
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
76 46
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
86 56
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
87 56
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 49
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
99 59
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
77 48
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
58 47
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
78 50
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
60 46
Mos Def is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Mos Def Be Kind Rewind, Something the Lord Made, The Italian Job

38
73 47
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

39
67 46
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

40
69 48
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

41
60 42
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Larenz Tate The Hot Spot, Menace II Society, Love Jones

42
34 28
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

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43
56 40
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

44
48 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
57 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
11 1
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Donald Glover The Muppets, Mystery Team, The To Do List

47
61 49
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
10 2
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
18 10
Lakeith Stanfield is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Lakeith Stanfield Selma, Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton

50
8 1
Taye Diggs is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
jaelle08 added Taye Diggs Chicago, Equilibrium, Go