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
482 80
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
577 108
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
400 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
310 90
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
284 77
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
356 111
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

7
220 77
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
251 63
James Earl Jones is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
James Earl Jones The Lion King, Return of the Jedi, Field of Dreams

9
248 82
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

10
179 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
216 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 77
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
198 70
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
162 63
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

The Best Living American Actors

15
166 58
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
173 68
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
161 66
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
125 55
Ving Rhames is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ving Rhames Pulp Fiction, Dawn of the Dead, Mission: Impossible

19
84 12
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

20
141 82
Wesley Snipes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Wesley Snipes Blade, White Men Can't Jump, Demolition Man

21
114 62
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 21 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

List of Famous Bands from Los Angeles

22
77 12
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

23
114 57
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
117 56
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
92 46
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
86 49
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

27
93 46
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 57
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

The Best Songs About Angelas

29
76 44
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
85 54
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 54
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 47
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
98 58
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 47
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
57 45
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

The Best Portland Trail Blazers Point Guards of All Time

36
78 49
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 45
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 46
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 45
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 47
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
34 27
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

42
59 41
Larenz Tate is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Larenz Tate The Hot Spot, Menace II Society, Love Jones

The Greatest Black Characters in Film History

43
56 39
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
47 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
56 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
61 48
Jeffrey Wright is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Jeffrey Wright The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Casino Royale, Source Code

47
10 1
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
GabeBallard added Donald Glover The Muppets, Mystery Team, The To Do List

48
17 10
Lakeith Stanfield is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Lakeith Stanfield Selma, Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton

49
12 5
Kadeem Hardison is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
bems7 added Kadeem Hardison I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, White Men Can't Jump, Vampire in Brooklyn

50
30 33
Clarence Williams III is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
samjohn2t added Clarence Williams III American Gangster, Half Baked, The Butler