american people 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
472 85
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
367 62
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
317 79
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
234 71
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
227 58
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
207 50
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
268 94
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

8
204 67
Laurence Fishburne is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Laurence Fishburne The Matrix, Man of Steel, Boyz in the Hood

9
164 63
Jamie Foxx is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
eilish added Jamie Foxx Django Unchained, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Ray

10
179 55
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
144 56
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

12
195 67
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
141 52
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

14
147 59
Terrence Howard is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Terrence Howard Iron Man, The Best Man, Hustle and Flow

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15
156 64
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

16
136 52
Danny Glover is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Danny Glover Lethal Weapon, The Color Purple, Shooter

17
128 58
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
108 46
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
32 2
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael B. Jordan That Awkward Moment, Fruitvale Station, Hardball

20
115 70
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
99 45
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

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22
106 47
Louis Gossett, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Louis Gossett, Jr. An Officer and a Gentleman, Iron Eagle, Roots

23
72 41
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

24
80 38
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
74 37
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
81 51
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
35 4
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chadwick Boseman 42, The Express, Get on Up

28
80 53
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Ice Cube Friday, 21 Jump Street, Boyz n the Hood

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29
78 47
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith David The Princess and the Frog, The Thing, Pitch Black

30
66 38
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

31
61 37
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

32
85 49
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

33
66 36
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

34
68 44
Chris Tucker is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Chris Tucker The Fifth Element, Friday, Silver Linings Playbook

35
67 43
Charles S. Dutton is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Charles S. Dutton Gothika, Alien 3, Badass

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36
62 40
Yaphet Kotto is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Yaphet Kotto Alien, Live and Let Die, Midnight Run

37
57 37
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

38
66 42
John Amos is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
John Amos Coming to America, Roots, Lock Up

39
51 39
Mos Def is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Mos Def Be Kind Rewind, Something the Lord Made, The Italian Job

40
29 21
Omar Sy is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Omar Sy Jurassic World, The Intouchables, Micmacs

41
42 38
Mike Epps is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Mike Epps The Hangover, The Hangover Part III, Hancock

42
46 35
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

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43
42 41
Michael K. Williams is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael K. Williams 12 Years a Slave, Robocop, Snitch

44
48 38
Courtney B. Vance is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Courtney B. Vance The Hunt for Red October, The Preacher's Wife, The Divide

45
45 36
Giancarlo Esposito is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Giancarlo Esposito Do The Right Thing, The Usual Suspects, Last Holiday

46
51 42
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 3
Keith Stanfield is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith Stanfield Selma, Short Term 12, Straight Outta Compton

48
79 75
Bill Cosby is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Bill Cosby Bill Cosby: Himself, Ghost Dad, Let's Do It Again

49
8 2
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Thor: The Dark World, The Bourne Identity, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

50
33 37
Roger Guenveur Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Roger Guenveur Smith Do the Right Thing, American Gangster, All About the Benjamins