african american The Best African American Actors in Film  

Ranker Film
Originally by
7.1k votes 544 voters 16.0k views 78 items Embed

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 African American actors are the best of the best and many are also among the best living actors today. From those who have portrayed classic African American film characters, to award winning actors, only the best African American actors are on this list. 

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 African American 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 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
280 43
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

The Longest Hollywood Marriages Secretly Gay, Bisexual, Or Queer Stars Of Golden Era Hollywood

2
209 44
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
190 56
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
137 38
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Forest Whitaker The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

5
118 41
Idris Elba is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Idris Elba Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Prometheus

6
135 32
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
128 40
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
144 48
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 8 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

9
152 63
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

10
100 43
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

11
98 39
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

12
118 42
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Don Cheadle Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

13
98 43
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

14
88 46
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

15
54 23
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Angela Bassett Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

The Very Best Cookie Brands, Ranked The Best Cydia Apps for iPhone

16
66 28
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Halle Berry X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2

17
80 33
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 47
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

19
59 24
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Viola Davis The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

20
94 45
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

21
86 32
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

22
77 44
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

23
73 31
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

24
64 30
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

25
75 52
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

26
65 43
Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Taraji P. Henson The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Hustle & Flow, Four Brothers

27
44 19
Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Alfre Woodard Scrooged, 12 Years a Slave, Star Trek: First Contact

28
59 32
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Kerry Washington Django Unchained, Fantastic Four, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

29
49 28
Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FatalFlaw added Queen Latifah Stranger than Fiction, Set It Off, Jungle Fever

List of the Best Black Movies The Best Mel Brooks Movies, Ranked

30
39 21
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Cicely Tyson The Help, Fried Green Tomatoes, Diary of a Mad Black Woman

31
38 29
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

32
48 27
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
33 15
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Regina King Jerry Maguire, Friday, Boyz n the Hood

34
57 38
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith David The Princess and the Frog, The Thing, Pitch Black

35
44 36
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

36
61 37
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

37
52 29
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
43 29
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

39
57 36
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

40
51 32
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
26 18
Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Zoe Saldana Avatar, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

42
47 31
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

43
25 19
Vanessa L. Williams is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Vanessa L. Williams Shaft, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Eraser

The Best Kids Cartoons of All Time The Best Scottish Actresses Working Today

44
34 26
Sanaa Lathan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Sanaa Lathan Blade, Alien vs. Predator, Love & Basketball

45
27 20
Diahann Carroll is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Diahann Carroll The Five Heartbeats, Claudine, Eve's Bayou

46
24 17
Della Reese is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Della Reese Harlem Nights, Dinosaur, Beauty Shop

47
34 31
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

48
49 38
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

49
27 18
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Lupita Nyong'o 12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

50
28 20
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Regina Hall Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3