Entertainment

The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40  

Ranker Film
5.5k votes 741 voters 42.6k views 54 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
Michael B. Jordan is listed (or ranked) 1 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
2
Zendaya is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 23
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • K.C. Undercover
Zendaya Maree Stoermer Coleman (born September 1, 1996) is an American actress and singer. She began her career appearing as a child model and backup dancer, before gaining prominence for her ...more
3
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 36
  • 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
4
Tessa Thompson is listed (or ranked) 4 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
5
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 36
  • 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
6
Letitia Wright is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 25
  • 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
7
Daniel Kaluuya is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
Daniel Kaluuya age 30
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
8
Zoë Kravitz is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 30
  • 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
9
John Boyega is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 27
  • Star Wars cinematic universe
  • Pacific Rim Uprising
  • Attack The Block
John Boyega is an actor.
10
Amandla Stenberg is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 17
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Hate U Give
Amandla Stenberg (born October 23, 1998) is an American actress. She portrayed Rue in The Hunger Games (2012), Madeline Whittier in Everything, Everything (2017), and Starr Carter in The Hate U ...more
11
Janelle Monáe is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
  • 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
12
China Anne McClain is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 21
  • Black Lightning
  • A.N.T. Farm
China Anne McClain (born August 25, 1998) 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 ...more
13
Lakeith Stanfield is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 28
  • Dope
  • Sorry To Bother You
  • The Purge: Anarchy
Lakeith Lee Stanfield (born August 12, 1991), sometimes credited as Keith Stanfield, is an American actor and rapper. He made his feature film debut in Short Term 12 (2013), for which he was ...more
14
Yara Shahidi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 19
  • Black-Ish
  • Smallfoot
Yara Sayeh Shahidi (born February 10, 2000) is an American actress, model and activist. She gained recognition for her starring role as the oldest daughter Zoey Johnson on the sitcom Black-ish ...more
15
Zazie Beetz is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 28
  • 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
16
Winston Duke is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 32
  • Mavel Cinematic Universe
  • Modern Family
  • Us
Winston Duke (born November 15, 1986) is a Tobagonian-American actor. He is best known for his role of M'Baku in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, starting with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity ...more
17
Marsai Martin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 15
  • Black-ish
  • Little
Marsai Martin (born August 14, 2004) is an American actress, singer, and producer. She is known for her role as Diane Johnson in the ABC comedy series Black-ish. She is set to star and executive ...more
18
Tyler James Williams is listed (or ranked) 18 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
19
Storm Reid is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 16
  • A Wrinkle In Time
  • Sleight
Storm Reid (born July 1, 2003) is an American actress. She portrayed one of the lead roles, along with Oprah Winfrey, in the fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time (2018).
20
Keke Palmer is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
blurrybaby21 added age 26
Lauren Keyana "Keke" Palmer is an American singer, songwriter, actress, and television personality. Palmer was born in Harvey, Illinois and raised in Robbins, Illinois. After Palmer's ...more
21
John David Washington is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
Devante Edwards added age 35
John David Washington (born July 28, 1984) is an American actor and former American football running back. He played college football at Morehouse and signed with the St. Louis Rams as an ...more
22
Issa Rae is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
Issa Rae 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
23
Shameik Moore is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 24
  • Dope
  • The Get Down
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Shameik Moore (born May 4, 1995) is an American singer, actor, rapper, dancer, model, best known for starring as Shaolin Fantastic on Netflix series The Get Down (2016-2017) and for appearing in ...more
24
Jennifer Hudson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
age 38
  • 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
25
O'Shea Jackson Jr. is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Black Actors & Actresses Under 40
O'Shea Jackson Jr. age 28
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