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The Greatest Black Actresses Of All Time

Updated March 25, 2021 97.0k votes 6.5k voters 196.9k views223 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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    Tessa Thompson

    Los Angeles, California

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    Diahann Carroll

    New York City, USA

    Nominated for Best Actress Oscar For Claudine (1975)

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    Lynn Whitfield

    Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Won for Best Actress Emmy for The Josephine Baker Story (1991)

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    Pam Grier

    Winston-Salem, North Carolina

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    Loretta Devine

    Houston, Texas

    Won for Best Guest Actress Emmy for Grey's Anatomy (2011)

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    Zoë Kravitz

    Venice, Los Angeles

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    Phylicia Rashād

    Houston, Texas

    Won for Best Actress Emmy For The Bill Cosby Show (1985 & 1986)

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    Naomie Harris

    London, United Kingdom

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    Whoopi Goldberg

    Manhattan, New York City

    Won For Best Actress Oscar for Ghost (1991)

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    Keke Palmer

    Harvey, Illinois

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    Kimberly Elise

    Minneapolis, Minnesota
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    Gina Torres

    Manhattan, New York City

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    Zendaya

    Oakland, California

    Won for Best Actress Emmy for Euphoria (2020)

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    Della Reese

    Black Bottom, Detroit

    Nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Touched By An Angel (1997 & 1998)

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    Paula Patton

    Los Angeles, California

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    Nichelle Nichols

    Robbins, Illinois
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    Hattie McDaniel

    Wichita, Kansas

    Won for Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Gone with the Wind (1940)

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    Maya Rudolph

    Gainesville, Florida

    Won for Best Guest Actress Emmy for Saturday Night Live (2020)

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    Jurnee Smollett

    New York City, New York

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    Tasha Smith

    Camden, New Jersey
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    Jennifer Hudson

    Chicago, Illinois

    Won for Best Actress Oscar for Dreamgirls (2007)

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    Rashida Jones

    Los Angeles, California

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    Oprah Winfrey

    Kosciusko, Mississippi

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    Bianca Lawson

    Los Angeles, California

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    Wendy Raquel Robinson

    Los Angeles, California