Entertainment The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40  

Ranker Film
2.3k votes 249 voters 13.2k views 57 items

List Rules Vote up the young Black actors who are already household names.

It can be difficult to build a notable career as a young celebrity, especially if you're a Black actor or actress. We've put together a list of Black actors and actresses under 40 who are making waves with audiences and winning acclaim for their work in television and film.

We aren't only listing the best African American actors, but famous Black actresses and actors from other countries like John Boyega and Lupita Nyong'o. We also have included Afro-Latinx actors like Alfred Enoch and Tessa Thompson. All of these young Black actors are at different points in their careers, but all of them are owning their space in Hollywood and we can't wait to see where their future takes them!

Who's your pick for the best Black actors under 40 in Hollywood right now? Check out the list of famous young Black actors below and vote up the ones you think are nailing their roles and taking the industry by storm.

list ordered by

1
89 20
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 35
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Star Wars Forces of Destiny
Lupita Nyong'o is a Mexican-Kenyan actress and film director. She was born in Mexico, but was raised in Kenya. She attended college in the United States, earning a Bachelor's degree in film and ...more

2
97 25
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 32
  • Creed
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • Fruitvale Station
Michael Bakari Jordan is an American actor. He is best known for his roles as East Dillon High School quarterback Vince Howard in Friday Night Lights, Reggie Montgomery in All My Children, Steve ...more

3
76 19
Zendaya is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 22
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • K.C. Undercover
Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman, known simply as Zendaya, is an American actress, singer and dancer. She began performing at an early age with the dance group Future Shock Oakland, the California ...more

4
68 18
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 32
  • Atlanta
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • The Lion King
Donald McKinley Glover, also known by his stage name Childish Gambino, is an American actor, writer, comedian, rapper, singer, and producer. He first came to attention for his work with Derrick ...more

5
64 17
Tessa Thompson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 35
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • Sorry To Bother You
  • Annihilation
Tessa Lynn Thompson (born October 3, 1983) is an American actress, singer, and songwriter. Her breakout role was in Tina Mabry's 2009 independent film Mississippi Damned. She gained further ...more

6
57 14
Daniel Kaluuya is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 29
Daniel Kaluuya is an English actor, comedian and writer, who is best known for playing Posh Kenneth in the E4 teen-drama Skins. He also appeared in the BBC dark comedy series Psychoville playing ...more

7
59 16
Danai Gurira is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 37
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • The Walking Dead
  • Mother of George
Danai Jekesai Gurira is a Zimbabwean-American actress and playwright, best known for her role as Michonne.

8
52 15
Letitia Wright is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 22
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • Urban Hymn
Letitia Michelle Wright (born 31 October 1993) is a Guyanese-born British actress. Beginning her professional career in 2011, she has played roles in several British TV series, including Top ...more

9
42 11
John Boyega is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 26
  • Star Wars cinematic universe
  • Pacific Rim Uprising
  • Attack The Block
John Boyega is an actor.

10
38 10
Zoë Kravitz is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 27
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Dope
  • Big Little Lies
Zoë Isabella Kravitz is an American actress, singer and model. She is the daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet. She has appeared in the films No Reservations, The Brave ...more

11
42 14
Amandla Stenberg is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 20
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Hate U Give
Amandla Stenberg is an American actress and voice actress. She is best known for her portrayal of young Cataleya in Colombiana and Rue in The Hunger Games.

12
32 8
Zazie Beetz is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 27
  • Deadpool 2
  • Atlanta
  • Easy
Zazie Beetz is a German-American actress known for the role of Vanessa "Van" Kiefer on Atlanta. In 2016, she appeared in the Netflix anthology series Easy, and in 2018, played Marvel ...more

13
34 10
Yara Shahidi is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 19
  • Black-Ish
  • Smallfoot
Yara Shahidi is an actress.

14
44 18
Gabourey Sidibe is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 35
  • American Horror Story
  • Empire
  • Precious
Gabourey Sidibe is an American actress who made her acting debut in the 2009 film Precious, a role that brought her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. From 2010 to 2013, she ...more

15
45 19
Rosario Dawson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 39
  • Marvel/Netflix Universe
  • Sin City
  • Josie and the Pusscats
Rosario Dawson is an American actress, singer, and writer. She has appeared in films such as Kids, Men in Black II, 25th Hour, Sin City, Clerks II, Rent, The Rundown, Eagle Eye, Alexander, Seven ...more

16
49 23
Kevin Hart is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 39
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  • Central Intelligence
  • Ride Along
Kevin Darnell Hart is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hart began his career by winning several amateur comedy competitions at ...more

17
36 13
Issa Rae is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 33
  • Awkward Black Girl
  • Insecure
Jo-Issa "Issa" Rae Diop (born January 12, 1985) is an American actress, writer, director, producer, and web series creator. She is best known as the creator, co-writer and star of the ...more

18
28 7
O'Shea Jackson Jr. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
O'Shea Jackson Jr. age 27
O'Shea Jackson Jr., also known by his stage name OMG, is an American actor and rapper. He is the oldest son of rapper Ice Cube, and portrayed his father in the 2015 biopic Straight Outta ...more

19
13 1
Chadwick Boseman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
Devante Edwards added age 37
Chadwick Aaron Boseman is an American actor, screenwriter, and playwright. He is best known for portraying Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get On Up.

20
35 14
Tyler James Williams is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 26
  • The Walking Dead
  • Everybody Hates Chris
Tyler James Williams is an American actor and rapper. He is most recognizable for having played the title character of the Chris Rock-inspired sitcom Everybody Hates Chris, and songwriter Cyrus ...more

21
30 10
China Anne McClain is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 20
  • Black Lightning
  • A.N.T. Farm
China Anne McClain is an American singer-songwriter, actress, dancer and member of the girl group McClain. China's career began in 2005 when she was seven years old acting in the movie The ...more

22
28 9
Kiersey Clemons is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 25
  • Dope
  • DC Extended Universe
Kiersey Clemons is an American actress and singer. Clemons is best known for her role as Diggy, the female lead in the Sundance award winning film, DOPE, and as Bianca in the award winning TV ...more

23
34 14
Jennifer Hudson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 37
  • Dreamgirls
  • Chi-Raq
  • Cats
Jennifer Kate Hudson is an American singer, actress and spokesperson. She rose to fame in 2004 as a finalist on the third season of American Idol, coming in seventh place. As an actress, she ...more

24
29 10
Jason Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 31
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Mudbound
Jason Mitchell is an actor.

25
36 16
Janelle Monáe is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 33
  • Hidden Figures
  • Welcome to Marwen
  • Dirty Computer
Janelle Monáe Robinson (born December 1, 1985) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and producer. She is signed to Atlantic Records, as well as her own imprint, the Wondaland Arts ...more