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The Greatest Black Actresses Of All Time

Updated April 19, 2021 97.2k votes 6.7k voters 202.7k views214 items

List RulesVote 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 American actresses of all time. These great Black actresses have starred in every genre of film from musicals and dramas to comedies. Some of these Black actresses, like Viola Davis, 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. Angela Bassett is another of the famous Black actresses.

Who do you think is the best African American actress in the history of film? Vote up your favorite Black female actors below. Then check back to see if your favorite popular Black actresses topped the list! 

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  • 1
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    Angela Bassett

    Harlem, New York City

    Won for Best Actress Golden Globe for What's Love Got To Do With It (1994)

     

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  • 2
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    Kerry Washington

    New York City, New York

    Nominated for Best Actress Emmy for Little Fires Everywhere (2020)

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  • 3
    1,769
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    Taraji P. Henson

    Washington, D.C.

    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2009)

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  • 4
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    Viola Davis

    St. Matthews, South Carolina

    Won for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences (2016)

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  • 5
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    Halle Berry

    Cleveland, Ohio

    Won for Best Actress Oscar for Monster's Ball (2002)

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    Zoe Saldana

    Passaic, New Jersey

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    Thandiwe Newton

    London, United Kingdom

    Won for Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy for Westworld (2016)

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  • 8
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    Regina King

    Los Angeles, California

    Won for Best Supporting Actress Oscar forIf Beale Street Could Talk (1994)

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    Cicely Tyson

    Harlem, New York City

    Won for Best Actress Emmy for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1982)

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    Dorothy Dandridge

    Cleveland, Ohio

    Nominated for Best Actress Oscar for Carmen Jones (1954)

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  • 11
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    Lupita Nyong'o

    Mexico City, Mexico

    Won for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 12 Years a Slave (2014)

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  • 12
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    Regina Hall

    Washington, D.C.

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    Gabrielle Union

    Omaha, Nebraska

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  • 14
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    Octavia Spencer

    Montgomery, Alabama

    Won for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Help (2012)

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  • 15
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    Alfre Woodard

    Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Won for Best Actress Emmy for Miss Evers' Boys (1997)

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  • 16
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    Meagan Good

    Panorama City, Los Angeles

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  • 17
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    Vanessa Williams

    Millwood, New York

    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress Emmy for Ugly Betty (2007 - 2009)

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  • 18
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    Nia Long

    New York City, New York

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    Sanaa Lathan

    New York City, New York

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  • 20
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    Ruby Dee

    Cleveland, Ohio

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    Queen Latifah

    Newark, New Jersey

    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Chicago (2003)

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    Vivica A. Fox

    South Bend, Indiana

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    Rosario Dawson

    New York City, New York

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    Jada Pinkett Smith

    Baltimore, Maryland

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    Lena Horne

    Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York City

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