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The Greatest Black Actresses of All Time

Updated September 28, 2020 97.6k votes 6.2k voters 180.2k 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
    1,918
    646

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

    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
    1,465
    506

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Kerry Marisa Washington (born January 31, 1977) is an American actress, producer, and... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Viola Davis
    1,949
    583

    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
  • 4
    Zoe Saldana
    1,377
    282

    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
    Halle Berry
    2,001
    762

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

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

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  • 6
    Thandie Newton
    1,094
    173

    BirthplaceLondon, England

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

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  • 7
    Taraji P. Henson
    1,770
    661

    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
  • 8
    Regina King
    1,246
    497

    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 Wikipedia
  • 9
    Dorothy Dandridge
    691
    254

    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
    1,261
    505

    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
    Lupita Nyong'o
    1,236
    367
    Lupita Nyong'o (born March 1, 1983) is a Mexican-Kenyan actress and film director. She was... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Regina Hall
    1,022
    350

    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

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  • 13
    Vanessa Williams
    749
    308

    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
    1,306
    598

    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
    1,157
    479

    BirthplaceMontgomery, Alabama

    Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972) is an American actress, author, and producer. She... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Alfre Woodard
    963
    413

    BirthplaceTulsa, Oklahoma, USA

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

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  • 17
    Meagan Good
    837
    370

    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 Wikipedia

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  • 18
    Vivica A. Fox
    717
    327

    BirthplaceSouth Bend, Indiana, United States of America

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

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  • 19
    Jada Pinkett Smith
    900
    368

    BirthplaceBaltimore, Maryland, United States of America

    Jada Pinkett Smith (born September 18, 1971) is an American actress, comedian,... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Nia Long
    1,221
    508

    Nia Long

    Age: 49

    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 Wikipedia
  • 21
    Rosario Dawson
    1,038
    542

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, USA

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

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  • 22
    Ruby Dee
    621
    277

    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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  • 23
    Queen Latifah
    1,201
    591

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, USA

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

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  • 24
    Sanaa Lathan
    837
    271

    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 Wikipedia
  • 25
    Lena Horne
    328
    93

    Lena Horne

    Dec. at 93 (1917-2010)

    BirthplaceBedford-Stuyvesant, New York City, New York, United States of America

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

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