actors The Best African American Actors in Film  

Ranker Film
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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
318 53
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

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2
242 47
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
220 62
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
146 42
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
159 42
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
151 35
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
141 45
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
173 68
Will Smith is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Will Smith After Earth, I Am Legend, Independence Day

9
154 53
Sidney Poitier is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
116 48
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
130 45
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
106 43
Michael Clarke Duncan is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Michael Clarke Duncan Planet of the Apes, Daredevil, The Green Mile

13
100 46
Chiwetel Ejiofor is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Chiwetel Ejiofor Twelve Years a Slave, American Gangster, Children of Men

14
110 47
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

15
106 46
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

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16
64 24
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Angela Bassett Boyz n the Hood, Green Lantern, Malcolm X

17
87 35
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
69 24
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Viola Davis The Help, Traffic, Out of Sight

19
109 52
Eddie Murphy is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Norbit

20
74 31
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Halle Berry X-Men, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men 2

21
91 35
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
81 33
Richard Pryor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Richard Pryor See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Stir Crazy

23
88 48
Cuba Gooding, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Cuba Gooding, Jr. What Dreams May Come, Jerry Maguire, Boyz in the Hood

24
73 32
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
83 54
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
74 46
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
49 20
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
66 33
Gregory Hines is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Gregory Hines White Nights, Tap, Running Scared

29
59 31
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

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30
49 32
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Whoopi Goldberg The Lion King, Toy Story 3, Ghost

31
43 24
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
34 20
Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
51 37
Djimon Hounsou is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Djimon Hounsou Blood Diamond, Gladiator, Amistad

34
50 31
Morris Chestnut is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Morris Chestnut Boyz n the Hood, Kick-Ass 2, Identity Thief

35
52 30
Redd Foxx is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Redd Foxx Harlem Nights, Cotton Comes to Harlem, On Location: Redd Foxx

36
37 18
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Regina King Jerry Maguire, Friday, Boyz n the Hood

37
65 38
Billy Dee Williams is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Billy Dee Williams Return of the Jedi, Batman, Brian's Song

38
61 40
Keith David is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Keith David The Princess and the Frog, The Thing, Pitch Black

39
54 30
Paul Winfield is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Paul Winfield The Terminator, Sounder, White Dog

40
54 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
58 36
Ossie Davis is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Ossie Davis Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Grumpy Old Men

42
36 18
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
Lupita Nyong'o 12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

43
50 31
LeVar Burton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
LeVar Burton Roots, Smart House, Star Trek Nemesis

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44
28 19
Vanessa L. Williams is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Vanessa L. Williams Shaft, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Eraser

45
39 26
Sanaa Lathan is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Sanaa Lathan Blade, Alien vs. Predator, Love & Basketball

46
40 31
Omar Epps is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
takizm777 added Omar Epps Scream 2, Love & Basketball, Juice

47
34 20
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Regina Hall Scary Movie, Scary Movie 2, Scary Movie 3

48
53 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
44 44
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
25 17
Della Reese is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best African American Actors in Film
FranciscodeSouza added Della Reese Harlem Nights, Dinosaur, Beauty Shop