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The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time 

Ranker Film
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Updated April 24, 2020 80.5k votes 5.6k voters 164.4k views 229 items

List Rules Vote up the black and African-American actresses, living or passed, with the most consistent top acting performances.

This list ranks the very best black and African Americans actresses of all time. Throughout the history of Hollywood, movies have featured talented African American actresses and black actresses from all over the world. These great black actresses have starred in every genre of film from musicals, to dramas to comedies. Some of these black actresses have even won Academy Awards for their work.

Who are some of the greatest African American actresses? Halle Berry made our list. She has starred in memorable movies like Jungle Fever and Monster's Ball. Kerry Washington also appears on this list of the top black actresses. Though she is best known for her work on TV's Scandal, Washington has starred in such movies as Django Unchained and Lakeview Terrace.

Whoopi Goldberg won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Ghost. She was also nominated for her role in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple. Jackie Brown actress Pam Grier also made this list, as did the striking Think Like a Man beauty, Meagan Good.

Who do you think is the best African American actress in the history of film? Did we include all of your favorite black actresses on this list? Vote on this list and share your thoughts in the comments section.
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1
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 60 from New York City, USA, New York, Harlem
Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress and activist known for her biographical film roles, most notably her performance as Tina Turner in the biopic What's Love Got ...more

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2
Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from Washington, D.C., United States of America
Taraji Penda Henson ( tə-RAH-jee; born September 11, 1970) is an American actress and author. She studied acting at Howard University and began her Hollywood career in guest roles on several ...more

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3
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 52 from USA, Cleveland, Ohio
Halle Maria Berry (born Maria Halle Berry; August 14, 1966) is an American actress. Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the romantic drama film Monster's Ball ...more

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4
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 42 from New York City, New York, United States of America
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5
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 53 from St. Matthews, South Carolina, United States of America
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6
Gabrielle Union is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 46 from Omaha, Nebraska, United States of America
Gabrielle Monique Union-Wade (born October 29, 1972) is an American actress, activist, and author. She began her career in the 1990s, appearing on television sitcoms, before landing supporting ...more

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7
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 85 from Harlem, New York City, New York, United States of America
Cicely L. Tyson (born December 19, 1924) is an American actress and former fashion model. In a career spanning more than six decades, she became known for her portrayal of strong ...more

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8
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from Los Angeles, California, USA
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9
Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added Age 40 from Passaic, New Jersey, United States of America
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10
Rosario Dawson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 39 from New York City, New York, United States of America
Rosario Isabel Dawson (born May 9, 1979) is an American actress, producer, singer, comic book writer, and political activist. She made her feature film debut in the 1995 independent drama Kids. ...more

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11
Nia Long is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from New York City, New York, USA
Nia Talita Long (born October 30, 1970) is an American actress. She is known for her roles in the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Third Watch and Empire, and the films Boyz n the ...more

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12
Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from USA, Newark, New Jersey
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13
Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 66 from USA, Oklahoma, Tulsa
Alfre Woodard (; born November 8, 1952) is an American actress, producer, and political activist. Woodard has been named one of the most versatile and accomplished actors of her generation. She ...more

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14
Octavia Spencer is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from Montgomery, Alabama
Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972) is an American actress, author, and producer. She is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award. She is ...more

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15
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 35 from Mexico City, Mexico
Lupita Nyong'o (born March 1, 1983) 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 ...more

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16
Meagan Good is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 37 from Panorama City, Los Angeles, California, United States of America
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17
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from Washington, D.C., USA
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18
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 63 from Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States of America
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19
Vanessa Williams is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 55 from Millwood, New York, United States of America
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20
Thandie Newton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added Age 46 from England, London
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21
Dorothy Dandridge is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Dec. at 43 (1922-1965) from Cleveland, Ohio, USA
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22
Pam Grier is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 69 from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States of America
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23
Vivica A. Fox is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 54 from South Bend, Indiana, USA
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24
Ruby Dee is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Dec. at 92 (1922-2014) from Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America
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25
Jada Pinkett Smith is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 47 from Baltimore, USA, Maryland
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