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6.6k voters

The Best African-American Film Actors

Updated April 21, 2021 46.5k votes 6.6k voters 344.1k views103 items

List RulesVote up the African American male actors, living or passed, with the most consistent top acting performances.

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 top 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? Including Oscar winners, like Denzel Washington, classic actors, like Sidney Poitier, and movie stars, like Will Smith, 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 a movie, or two. 

From young to old, the popular 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. Of course, you'll also find young Black actors who've recently risen to the top, like John David Washington, Chadwick Boseman, LaKeith Stanfield, and Donald Glover. 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 leading Hollywood men.

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    Denzel Washington

    Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli

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    Morgan Freeman

    Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy

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  • 3
    1,920
    390

    Samuel L. Jackson

    Pulp Fiction, The Avengers

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  • 4
    1,751
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    Will Smith

    After Earth, I Am Legend

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    Laurence Fishburne

    The Matrix, Man of Steel

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    Forest Whitaker

    The Butler, The Last King of Scotland

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    Chadwick Boseman

    42, The Express

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    James Earl Jones

    The Lion King, Return of the Jedi

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  • 9
    775
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    Sidney Poitier

    Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night

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  • 10
    997
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    Eddie Murphy

    Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America

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  • 11
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    Danny Glover

    Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple

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    898
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    Michael B. Jordan

    That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station

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    Don Cheadle

    Crash, Hotel Rwanda

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  • 14
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    Jamie Foxx

    Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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    Michael Clarke Duncan

    Planet of the Apes, Daredevil

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    433
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    Mahershala Ali

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Place Beyond the Pines

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  • 17
    657
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    Cuba Gooding, Jr.

    What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire

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    Ving Rhames

    Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead

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    560
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    Wesley Snipes

    Blade, White Men Can't Jump

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    Terrence Howard

    Iron Man, The Best Man

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    Ice Cube

    Friday, 21 Jump Street

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    Louis Gossett, Jr.

    An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle

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    Chris Tucker

    The Fifth Element, Friday

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    Morris Chestnut

    Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2

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    #1766 of 1,883 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History#31 of 178 The Greatest Black Actors In Film History

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    Bernie Mac

    Transformers, Friday

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