6.3k voters

The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time

Updated September 28, 2020 101.0k votes 6.3k voters 184.9k views225 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 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.
  • Angela Bassett1

    BirthplaceNew York City, USA, New York, Harlem

    Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress and activist known for her... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Viola Davis2

    BirthplaceSt. Matthews, South Carolina, USA

    Viola Davis (born August 11, 1965) is an American actress and producer. Having won an Academy... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Kerry Washington3

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

    Kerry Marisa Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress, producer, and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Taraji P. Henson4

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., USA

    Taraji Penda Henson ( tə-RAH-jee; born September 11, 1970) is an American actress and author.... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Zoe Saldana5

    BirthplacePassaic, New Jersey, United States of America

    Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario is an American actress. Following her performances with the theater... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Halle Berry6

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

    Halle Maria Berry (born Maria Halle Berry; August 14, 1966) is an American actress. Berry won... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Thandie Newton7

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

    Melanie Thandie Newton (; born 6 November 1972) is a British actress, who has appeared in... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Regina King8

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, California, United States of America

    Regina Rene King (born January 15, 1971) is an American actress and director. She is the... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Cicely Tyson9

    BirthplaceHarlem, New York City, New York, USA

    Cicely L. Tyson (born December 19, 1924) is an American actress and former fashion model. In a... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Dorothy Dandridge10

    Dorothy Dandridge

    Age: Died at 43 (1922-1965)

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, USA

    Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an American film and theatre... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Lupita Nyong'o11

    BirthplaceMexico City, Mexico

    Lupita Nyong'o (born March 1, 1983) is a Mexican-Kenyan actress and film director. She was... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Gabrielle Union12

    BirthplaceOmaha, Nebraska, United States of America

    Gabrielle Monique Union-Wade (born October 29, 1972) is an American actress, activist, and... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Regina Hall13

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    Regina Lee Hall (born December 12, 1970) is an American actress and comedian. She is best... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Vanessa Williams14

    BirthplaceMillwood, New York, United States of America

    Vanessa Lynn Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American singer, actress, and fashion... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Octavia Spencer15

    BirthplaceMontgomery, Alabama

    Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972) is an American actress, author, and producer. She... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Nia Long16

    Nia Long

    Age: 45

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

    Nia Talita Long (born October 30, 1970) is an American actress. She is known for her roles in... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Alfre Woodard17

    BirthplaceTulsa, Oklahoma, USA

    Alfre Woodard (; born November 8, 1952) is an American actress, producer, and political... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Meagan Good18

    BirthplacePanorama City, Los Angeles, California, United States of America

    Meagan Monique Good (born August 8, 1981) is an American actress. Beginning her career as a... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Vivica A. Fox19

    BirthplaceSouth Bend, Indiana, USA

    Vivica Anjanetta Fox (born July 30, 1964) is an American actress, producer and television... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Jada Pinkett Smith20

    BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Rosario Dawson21

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

    Rosario Isabel Dawson (born May 9, 1979) is an American actress, producer, singer, comic book... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Queen Latifah22

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, USA

    Dana Elaine Owens (born March 18, 1970), known professionally as Queen Latifah, is an American... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Ruby Dee23

    Ruby Dee

    Age: Died at 92 (1922-2014)

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, USA

    Ruby Dee (born Ruby Ann Wallace, October 27, 1922 – June 11, 2014) was an American actress,... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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  • Sanaa Lathan24

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Sanaa McCoy Lathan (born September 19, 1971) is an American actress. As a voice actress, from... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button
  • Lena Horne25

    Lena Horne

    Age: Died at 93 (1917-2010)

    BirthplaceBedford-Stuyvesant, New York City, New York, USA

    Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress,... more on WikipediaAmazon_watch buy button

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