Actresses The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time  

Ranker Film
Originally by
47k votes 3.4k voters 90.6k views 198 items

List Rules Vote for your favorite black and African-American actresses

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.

1
974 341
Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Angela Bassett Jumping the Broom, Boyz n the Hood, How Stella Got Her Groove Back

2
982 256
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Viola Davis Antwone Fisher, Doubt, The Help

3
964 279
Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Taraji P. Henson Something New, Four Brothers, Hustle & Flow

4
1,032 409
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Halle Berry Jungle Fever, X2, Monster's Ball

5
769 241
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Kerry Washington A Thousand Words, Django Unchained, Lakeview Terrace

6
658 240
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Cicely Tyson Because of Winn-Dixie, The Help, Alex Cross

7
688 237
Gabrielle Union is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Gabrielle Union The Honeymooners, Bring It On, Bad Boys II

8
668 232
Nia Long is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Nia Long Good Hair, Friday, Boyz n the Hood

9
672 288
Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Queen Latifah Jungle Fever, Bringing Down the House, Chicago

10
537 200
Octavia Spencer is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Octavia Spencer The Help, Beauty Shop, Black or White

11
569 240
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Regina King Jerry Maguire, Poetic Justice, Ray

12
533 236
Rosario Dawson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Rosario Dawson Grindhouse, Rent, Clerks II

13
506 193
Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Alfre Woodard How to Make an American Quilt, Scrooged, Grand Canyon

14
651 355
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Whoopi Goldberg Girl, Interrupted, Ghost

The 15 Hottest Actresses You Will Never See Naked on Film

15
455 179
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Regina Hall Last Holiday, The Honeymooners, Think Like A Man

16
453 226
Pam Grier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Pam Grier Bucktown, Foxy Brown, Jackie Brown

17
539 212
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Lupita Nyong'o 12 Years a Slave, Non-Stop, Star Wars: Episode VII

18
348 194
Ruby Dee is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Ruby Dee A Thousand Words, Jungle Fever, A Raisin in the Sun

19
363 174
Dorothy Dandridge is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Dorothy Dandridge Carmen Jones, Island in the Sun, Porgy and Bess

20
463 195
Sanaa Lathan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Sanaa Lathan Something New, Blade, A Raisin in the Sun

21
469 91
Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added Zoe Saldana Avatar, Star Trek, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The Best Women's Fashion Blogs

22
430 197
Loretta Devine is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Loretta Devine Kingdom Come, Jumping the Broom, Dreamgirls

23
380 170
Vanessa Williams is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Vanessa Williams Under the Gun, Eraser, Johnson Family Vacation

24
435 184
Meagan Good is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Meagan Good One Missed Call, Jumping the Broom, Friday

25
501 218
Jada Pinkett Smith is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Jada Pinkett Smith The Women, The Matrix Revolutions, Menace II Society

26
416 191
Vivica A. Fox is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Vivica A. Fox Born on the Fourth of July, Independence Day, Kill Bill

27
347 69
Thandie Newton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added Thandie Newton Crash, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Pursuit of Happyness

28
275 169
Diahann Carroll is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Diahann Carroll Carmen Jones, Paris Blues, Starfest

List of Black Movies, Ranked Best to Worst

29
350 156
Phylicia Rashād is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Phylicia Rashād Just Wright, For Colored Girls, A Raisin in the Sun

30
271 168
Hattie McDaniel is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Hattie McDaniel Nothing Sacred, Gone with the Wind, Show Boat

31
341 197
Jennifer Hudson is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Jennifer Hudson The Three Stooges, The Secret Life of Bees, Dreamgirls

32
378 245
Oprah Winfrey is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Oprah Winfrey Beloved, The Color Purple, The Butler

33
254 117
Della Reese is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Della Reese Harlem Nights, Dinosaur, Beauty Shop

34
320 189
Keke Palmer is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Keke Palmer Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, Joyful Noise, Akeelah and the Bee

35
283 144
Kimberly Elise is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Kimberly Elise John Q, Set It Off, The Great Debaters

The Worst Movies That Have Grossed Over $1 Billion

36
290 218
Mo'Nique Imes-Jackson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Mo'Nique Imes-Jackson Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Soul Plane, Welcome Home

37
262 187
Maya Rudolph is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Maya Rudolph Bridesmaids, The Way, Way Back

38
339 216
Whitney Houston is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Whitney Houston The Bodyguard, Sparkle, Waiting to Exhale

39
252 175
Lisa Bonet is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Lisa Bonet Enemy of the State, High Fidelity, Bank Robber

40
232 159
Zoë Kravitz is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Zoë Kravitz X-Men: First Class, After Earth, Divergent

41
220 123
Gina Torres is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
mixmaster reid added Gina Torres The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Serenity

42
271 199
Gabourey Sidibe is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Gabourey Sidibe Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Tower Heist, Seven Psychopaths

The Greatest Black Characters in Film History

43
228 136
Tisha Campbell-Martin is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Tisha Campbell-Martin Little Shop of Horrors, House Party, Zack and Miri Make a Porno

44
176 64
Tracee Ellis Ross is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Mike Williams Mendes added Tracee Ellis Ross Daddy's Little Girls, Labor Pains, Hanging Up

45
239 181
Paula Patton is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Paula Patton Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Idlewild, Jumping the Broom

46
266 181
Janet Jackson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Janet Jackson Poetic Justice, Why Did I Get Married, For Colored Girls

47
177 105
Nichelle Nichols is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Nichelle Nichols Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock

48
187 165
Margaret Avery is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Margaret Avery Heat Wave, The Color Purple, Welcome Home

49
216 154
Tina Turner is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
ColinBoddy added Tina Turner Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Last Action Hero, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

50
192 133
Tatyana Ali is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
FranciscodeSouza added Tatyana Ali Glory Road, Jawbreaker, Kiss the Girls