actors 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
369 59
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
281 52
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
252 68
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
177 52
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
181 49
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
166 39
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

7
160 53
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

8
202 77
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

9
168 58
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
150 49
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
129 57
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

12
118 45
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

13
112 50
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

14
116 47
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

Actors Who Almost Got the Part in a Marvel Film

15
123 53
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

16
122 57
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

17
93 39
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

18
100 52
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

19
86 36
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

20
96 40
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

21
90 60
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

North and South Cast List

22
70 35
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

23
58 38
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

24
58 33
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
67 42
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith David The Princess and the Frog, The Thing, Pitch Black

26
55 34
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

27
70 44
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

28
56 33
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

The Best Songs About Angelas

29
53 46
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 29 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

30
45 33
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

31
52 34
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

32
54 36
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

33
57 40
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

34
55 48
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

35
48 41
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

The Best Songs with Club in the Title

36
57 39
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
40 36
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
39 33
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

39
34 38
Michael K. Williams is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael K. Williams 12 Years a Slave, Robocop, Snitch

40
28 35
Mike Epps is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Mike Epps The Hangover, The Hangover Part III, Hancock

41
64 64
Bill Cosby is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Bill Cosby Bill Cosby: Himself, Ghost Dad, Let's Do It Again

42
38 36
Courtney B. Vance is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Courtney B. Vance The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher's Wife, The Divide

30 Things You Didn't Know About American Sniper

43
35 33
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
40 39
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

45
26 32
Roger Guenveur Smith is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Roger Guenveur Smith Do the Right Thing, American Gangster, All About the Benjamins

46
20 25
Clarence Williams III is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
samjohn2t added Clarence Williams III American Gangster, Half Baked, The Butler

47
12 18
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

48
1 0
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

49
1 0
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

50
0 0
Keith Stanfield is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith Stanfield Selma, Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton