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The Best African-American Film Actors 

Ranker Film
Originally by
Updated July 21, 2020 36.3k votes 5k voters 268.3k views 101 items

List Rules Vote 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. 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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list ordered by
1
Denzel Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Antwone Fisher, Book of Eli, American Gangster

Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States of America

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2
Morgan Freeman is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, Million Dollar Baby

Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America

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3
Samuel L. Jackson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Pulp Fiction, The Avengers, Django Unchained

Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America

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4
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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5
Forest Whitaker is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, The Last Stand

Birthplace: Longview, Texas, United States of America

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6
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

Birthplace: Augusta, Georgia, United States of America

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7
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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8
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

Birthplace: Arkabutla, Mississippi, United States of America

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9
Don Cheadle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Crash, Hotel Rwanda, Iron Man 3

Birthplace: Kansas City, USA, Missouri

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10
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, Lilies of the Field

Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States of America

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11
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
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Birthplace: Texas, USA, Terrell

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12
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

Birthplace: California, United States of America

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13
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois

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14
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

Birthplace: New York City, USA, New York

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

Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Illinois

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16
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
17
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

Birthplace: Anderson, South Carolina

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18
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
19
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

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

Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America

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22
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
takizm777 added The 40-Year-Old Virgin, This Is the End, Scary Movie 3

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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

Birthplace: Peoria, Illinois, United States of America

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24
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
takizm777 added The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

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25
Mahershala Ali is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best African-American Film Actors
MichaelTimpson added Mahershala Ali The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Place Beyond the Pines, Predators

Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States of America

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