6.4k voters

The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time

Updated September 28, 2020 97.9k votes 6.4k voters 190.0k 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

    BirthplaceHarlem, New York City, New York, USA

    Angela Evelyn Bassett (born August 16, 1958) is an American actress and activist known for her...  more
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  • Viola Davis2

    BirthplaceUSA, South Carolina, St. Matthews

    Viola Davis (born August 11, 1965) is an American actress and producer. Having won an Academy...  more
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  • Halle Berry3

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

    Halle Maria Berry (born Maria Halle Berry; August 14, 1966) is an American actress. Berry won...  more
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  • Kerry Washington4

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Kerry Marisa Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress, producer, and...  more
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  • Taraji P. Henson5

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    Taraji Penda Henson ( tə-RAH-jee; born September 11, 1970) is an American actress and author....  more
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  • Zoe Saldana6

    BirthplacePassaic, New Jersey, United States of America

    Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario is an American actress. Following her performances with the theater...  more
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  • Thandie Newton7

    BirthplaceLondon, United Kingdom

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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
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  • Cicely Tyson9

    BirthplaceHarlem, New York City, New York, United States of America

    Cicely L. Tyson (December 19, 1924 – January 28, 2021) was an American actress and former...  more
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  • 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
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  • Regina Hall11

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

    Regina Lee Hall (born December 12, 1970) is an American actress and comedian. She is best...  more
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  • Lupita Nyong'o12
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  • Octavia Spencer13

    BirthplaceMontgomery, Alabama

    Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972) is an American actress, author, and producer. She...  more
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  • Gabrielle Union14

    BirthplaceOmaha, Nebraska, United States of America

    Gabrielle Monique Union-Wade (born October 29, 1972) is an American actress, activist, and...  more
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  • Vanessa Williams15

    BirthplaceMillwood, New York, United States of America

    Vanessa Lynn Williams (born March 18, 1963) is an American singer, actress, and fashion...  more
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  • Alfre Woodard16

    BirthplaceTulsa, Oklahoma, United States of America

    Alfre Woodard (; born November 8, 1952) is an American actress, producer, and political...  more
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  • Meagan Good17

    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
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  • Nia Long18

    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
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  • Vivica A. Fox19

    BirthplaceSouth Bend, Indiana, United States of America

    Vivica Anjanetta Fox (born July 30, 1964) is an American actress, producer and television...  more
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  • Queen Latifah20

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, United States of America

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  • Ruby Dee21

    Ruby Dee

    Age: Died at 92 (1922-2014)

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, USA

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  • Sanaa Lathan22

    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
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  • Jada Pinkett Smith23

    BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland, United States of America

    Jada Pinkett Smith (born September 18, 1971) is an American actress, comedian,...  more
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  • Rosario Dawson24

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Rosario Isabel Dawson (born May 9, 1979) is an American actress, producer, singer, comic book...  more
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  • 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
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