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The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time 

Ranker Film
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Updated April 24, 2020 86.6k votes 5.9k voters 171.9k views 224 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
Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 2 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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3
Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 3 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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4
Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 53 from St. Matthews, South Carolina, United States of America
Viola Davis (born August 11, 1965) is an American actress and producer. Having won an Academy Award, an Emmy Award, and two Tony Awards, she is the first black actress to achieve the Triple ...more

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5
Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 42 from New York City, New York, United States of America
Kerry Marisa Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress. She gained wide public recognition for starring as Olivia Pope, a crisis management expert, in the ABC drama series ...more

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6
Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 6 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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7
Gabrielle Union is listed (or ranked) 7 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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8
Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added Age 40 from Passaic, New Jersey, United States of America
Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario is an American actress. Following her performances with the theater group Faces, Saldana made her screen debut in a 1999 episode of Law & Order. Her ...more

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9
Regina King is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from Los Angeles, California, USA
Regina Rene King (born January 15, 1971) is an American actress and television director. She is the recipient of various accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and three ...more

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10
Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from USA, Newark, New Jersey
Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970), known professionally as Queen Latifah, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, and producer. Born in Newark, New Jersey, she signed with ...more

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11
Thandie Newton is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added Age 46 from England, London
Melanie Thandie Newton (; born 6 November 1972) is a British actress, who has appeared in British and American films. Newton is known for her starring roles, such as the title character in ...more

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12
Rosario Dawson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 39 from New York City, New York, United States of America
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13
Nia Long is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from New York City, New York, USA
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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
Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 15 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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16
Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 48 from Washington, D.C., USA
Regina Lee Hall (born December 12, 1970) is an American actress and comedian. She is best known for her multiple leading roles, most recently in Girls Trip (2017), Little (2019) and Shaft ...more

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17
Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 35 from Mexico City, Mexico
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18
Vanessa Williams is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 55 from Millwood, New York, United States of America
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19
Meagan Good is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
Age 37 from Panorama City, Los Angeles, California, United States of America
Meagan Monique Good (born August 8, 1981) is an American actress. Beginning her career as a child actor, Good has appeared in numerous television shows, films, and music videos as both a child ...more

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20
Whoopi Goldberg is listed (or ranked) 20 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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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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