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The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time

Updated September 28, 2020 96.5k votes 6.1k voters 177.2k 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.
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  • 1
    Angela Bassett is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,891
    639

    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 Wikipedia

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  • 2
    Kerry Washington is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,454
    490

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Kerry Marisa Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress. She gained wide public... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Viola Davis is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,919
    582

    BirthplaceSt. Matthews, South Carolina, United States of America

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

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  • 4
    Zoe Saldana is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,362
    272

    BirthplacePassaic, New Jersey, United States of America

    Zoë Yadira Saldaña Nazario is an American actress. Following her performances with the theater... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    Taraji P. Henson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,750
    654

    BirthplaceWashington, D.C., United States of America

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

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  • 6
    Halle Berry is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,976
    749

    BirthplaceUSA, Cleveland, Ohio

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

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  • 7
    Thandie Newton is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,081
    162

    BirthplaceLondon, England

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

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  • 8
    Regina King is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,224
    494

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, USA, California

    Regina Rene King (born January 15, 1971) is an American actress and television director. She... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Dorothy Dandridge is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    681
    252

    Dorothy Dandridge

    Dec. at 43 (1922-1965)

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

    Dorothy Jean Dandridge (November 9, 1922 – September 8, 1965) was an American film and theatre... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    Cicely Tyson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,242
    503

    BirthplaceHarlem, 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... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Regina Hall is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,001
    346

    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 Wikipedia
  • 12
    Lupita Nyong'o is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,216
    361

    BirthplaceMexico City, Mexico

    Lupita Nyong'o (born March 1, 1983) is a Mexican-Kenyan actress and film director. She was... more on Wikipedia

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  • 13
    Vanessa Williams is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    733
    301

    BirthplaceMillwood, New York, United States of America

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

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  • 14
    Gabrielle Union is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,282
    595

    BirthplaceOmaha, Nebraska, United States of America

    Gabrielle Monique Union-Wade (born October 29, 1972) is an American actress, activist, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Octavia Spencer is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,138
    476

    BirthplaceMontgomery, Alabama

    Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972) is an American actress, author, and producer. She... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Meagan Good is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    818
    366

    BirthplaceLos Angeles, Panorama City, USA, California

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

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  • 17
    Nia Long is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,210
    506

    Nia Long

    Age: 49

    BirthplaceNew York City, USA, New York

    Nia Talita Long (born October 30, 1970) is an American actress. She is known for her roles in... more on Wikipedia
  • 18
    Ruby Dee is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    618
    275

    Ruby Dee

    Dec. at 92 (1922-2014)

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

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

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  • 19
    Alfre Woodard is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    949
    413

    BirthplaceTulsa, Oklahoma, United States of America

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

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  • 20
    Vivica A. Fox is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    707
    326

    BirthplaceSouth Bend, Indiana, United States of America

    Vivica Anjanetta Fox (born July 30, 1964) is an American actress, producer and television... more on Wikipedia
  • 21
    Rosario Dawson is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,030
    541

    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 on Wikipedia
  • 22
    Jada Pinkett Smith is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    890
    366

    BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland, United States of America

    Jada Pinkett Smith (born September 18, 1971) is an American actress, comedian,... more on Wikipedia
  • 23
    Lena Horne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    324
    91

    Lena Horne

    Dec. at 93 (1917-2010)

    BirthplaceNew York City, USA, New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant

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

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  • 24
    Queen Latifah is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    1,185
    590

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, United States of America

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

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  • 25
    Sanaa Lathan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time
    827
    271

    BirthplaceNew York City, USA, New York

    Sanaa McCoy Lathan (born September 19, 1971) is an American actress. As a voice actress, from... more on Wikipedia
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